VIETNAM SHADOWS

THE WAR, ITS GHOSTS, AND ITS LEGACY

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. 30, 1997

ISBN: 0-8018-5605-1

Page Count: 248

Publisher: Johns Hopkins Univ.

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1997

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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...

NIGHT

Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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A PEOPLE'S HISTORY OF THE UNITED STATES

For Howard Zinn, long-time civil rights and anti-war activist, history and ideology have a lot in common. Since he thinks that everything is in someone's interest, the historian—Zinn posits—has to figure out whose interests he or she is defining/defending/reconstructing (hence one of his previous books, The Politics of History). Zinn has no doubts about where he stands in this "people's history": "it is a history disrespectful of governments and respectful of people's movements of resistance." So what we get here, instead of the usual survey of wars, presidents, and institutions, is a survey of the usual rebellions, strikes, and protest movements. Zinn starts out by depicting the arrival of Columbus in North America from the standpoint of the Indians (which amounts to their standpoint as constructed from the observations of the Europeans); and, after easily establishing the cultural disharmony that ensued, he goes on to the importation of slaves into the colonies. Add the laborers and indentured servants that followed, plus women and later immigrants, and you have Zinn's amorphous constituency. To hear Zinn tell it, all anyone did in America at any time was to oppress or be oppressed; and so he obscures as much as his hated mainstream historical foes do—only in Zinn's case there is that absurd presumption that virtually everything that came to pass was the work of ruling-class planning: this amounts to one great indictment for conspiracy. Despite surface similarities, this is not a social history, since we get no sense of the fabric of life. Instead of negating the one-sided histories he detests, Zinn has merely reversed the image; the distortion remains.

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1979

ISBN: 0061965588

Page Count: 772

Publisher: Harper & Row

Review Posted Online: May 26, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 1979

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