VIETNAM SHADOWS by Arnold R. Isaacs


The War, Its Ghosts, and Its Legacy
Email this review


 Isaacs (Without Honor: Defeat in Vietnam and Cambodia, 1983) covers a good deal of territory in this sober, strongly written, and persuasively argued book. According to the former Baltimore Sun foreign correspondent, the ``lingering legacies'' of the Vietnam War include a continuing impact on American veterans, on nonveterans of the Vietnam generation, and on American foreign and military policy, as well as the POW/MIA issue, Indochinese immigration to the US, US-Vietnam relations, and reconciliation efforts in this country. Examining those topics is a huge, complicated task, but Isaacs does so extremely capably. He amasses a large amount of solid information in each area, carefully analyzes it, and comes up with honest, insightful conclusions. In the chapter on veterans, for example, he serves up a mixture of previously published and original interviews, along with a catalog of factual data to back up his conclusions. These include a strong condemnation of Hollywood and the news media for consistently presenting stories of Americans perpetrating atrocities in Vietnam. That situation, he argues effectively, ``made a clichÇ of atrocities'' and unfairly portrayed veterans as ultraviolent misfits, causing many Americans for years to blame the veterans for the war. Elsewhere, Isaacs marshals a vast amount of evidence to buttress his contention that the widely held belief that Vietnam continues to hold American POWs is a myth. The majority of Americans still listed as missing in Vietnam, Isaacs says, were ``undoubtedly killed at the time they disappeared.'' It is ``virtually inconceivable that any [are] still alive,'' he says, nor will it ever ``be known exactly how or where'' they died. Those blunt conclusions are sure to be controversial, given opinion polls indicating that two-thirds of the public believes Vietnam continues to hold American prisoners. A valuable book that shows vividly how the Vietnam War continues to have a wide impact on American society.

Pub Date: Oct. 30th, 1997
ISBN: 0-8018-5605-1
Page count: 248pp
Publisher: Johns Hopkins Univ.
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1st, 1997


IndieA Long Way Back by J. Everett  Prewitt
by J. Everett Prewitt
IndieHEAVEN HELP US ALL by Moose Eliot
by Moose Eliot
IndieUNAUTHORIZED ACTS by Criss  Hinson
by Criss Hinson