M.I.A. OR MYTHMAKING IN AMERICA by H. Bruce Franklin

M.I.A. OR MYTHMAKING IN AMERICA

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KIRKUS REVIEW

A calm and thoughtful book on a firestorm of a subject, by Franklin (English and American Studies/Rutgers; War Stars, 1988, etc.). Are there any POWs in Vietnam now? Does it matter to those who have made political capital of the POW cause? Franklin observes that while the US blatantly violated the Paris Agreement ending the war, ""about the only proviso...scrupulously carried out...was Hanoi's implementation with respect to POWs."" He points out that there were proportionately far more MIAs in WW II and Korea, and that the Viet Cong had nothing to gain in holding postwar prisoners. Franklin suggests we consider, in proportion to this handful of ""supposed victims,"" the devastation of an entire land, civilians included, by state-of-the-art weapons. Going to specific cases, he concludes that there are no POWs, and he undercuts the demonizing of North Vietnam with anecdotal evidence that Vietnamese, despite being bombed out of their homes, took captured airmen to safety and performed other kind acts. As in his earlier work, Franklin digs deep: Why is the POW/MIA flag, he wonders, the only one other than Old Glory ever to fly over the White House? Why does every state fly this flag at capitals, toll plazas, and rest areas, and mandate observance of National POW/MIA Recognition Day--when a 1976 Congressional committee concluded that ""no Americans are still being held."" Because, says Franklin, quoting David Cline, left for dead on a Vietnam battlefield, ""Americans want to believe that we were the good guys...."" And also because, the author adds, of the power of a myth, now embodied in such culture-heroes as Chuck Norris and Sylvester Stallone--""a story of ostensibly historic events...that...no matter how bizarre...appears as essential truth to its believers."" Intelligent, provocative, and courageous.

Pub Date: March 1st, 1992
ISBN: 0813520010
Page count: 240pp
Publisher: Lawrence Hill/Chicago Review