Without sanctifying the women in Vietnam, these interviews open an important window to the difference between how men and...



Women who served in the Vietnam War offer a moving set of reflections.

Steinman (Television’s First War, not reviewed), a television journalist who reported from Vietnam for more than two years, produced a documentary on the women in Vietnam. He has edited for print 16 taped interviews from that show, representative of the thousands of women who were stationed in Vietnam during the decade when the US was militarily involved. Most of them (and most of the interviewees) were nurses, others were civilian employees of the US government, and still others were volunteers who routinely visited frontline detachments to bolster the morale of US troops with coffee, doughnuts, and a willing ear. Most vivid are the experiences of the nurses, who saw American soldiers and Vietnamese civilians decimated by mortars, mines, bullets, and shrapnel. Nurses at the frontline medical units lived under frequent bombardment themselves, scurrying to rat-infested bunkers when the mortar fire started, and seeing some of their own number die. Even the women based in or near Saigon suffered their share of mortar fire, sleepless nights, and vermin. Most of them young and inexperienced (but adventurous and idealistic), the women, testifying from hindsight, recall how they walled off the sorrow, anger, and confusion that would have interfered with their duties, displaying instead empathy and concern, good cheer and professionalism. Returning home, they encountered the same resistance to their Vietnam service as the combat veterans, so they shut up and took up their expected roles as good wives, daughters, mothers, and citizens. Post-traumatic stress disorder and other psychological consequences surfaced eventually. Testified one nurse, “It affected me on such a profound level. . . . It took me years to find that out.”

Without sanctifying the women in Vietnam, these interviews open an important window to the difference between how men and women view war. (b&w photos, not seen)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 2000

ISBN: 1-57500-139-X

Page Count: 256

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2000

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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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Buffs of the Old West will enjoy Clavin’s careful research and vivid writing.



Rootin’-tootin’ history of the dry-gulchers, horn-swogglers, and outright killers who populated the Wild West’s wildest city in the late 19th century.

The stories of Wyatt Earp and company, the shootout at the O.K. Corral, and Geronimo and the Apache Wars are all well known. Clavin, who has written books on Dodge City and Wild Bill Hickok, delivers a solid narrative that usefully links significant events—making allies of white enemies, for instance, in facing down the Apache threat, rustling from Mexico, and other ethnically charged circumstances. The author is a touch revisionist, in the modern fashion, in noting that the Earps and Clantons weren’t as bloodthirsty as popular culture has made them out to be. For example, Wyatt and Bat Masterson “took the ‘peace’ in peace officer literally and knew that the way to tame the notorious town was not to outkill the bad guys but to intimidate them, sometimes with the help of a gun barrel to the skull.” Indeed, while some of the Clantons and some of the Earps died violently, most—Wyatt, Bat, Doc Holliday—died of cancer and other ailments, if only a few of old age. Clavin complicates the story by reminding readers that the Earps weren’t really the law in Tombstone and sometimes fell on the other side of the line and that the ordinary citizens of Tombstone and other famed Western venues valued order and peace and weren’t particularly keen on gunfighters and their mischief. Still, updating the old notion that the Earp myth is the American Iliad, the author is at his best when he delineates those fraught spasms of violence. “It is never a good sign for law-abiding citizens,” he writes at one high point, “to see Johnny Ringo rush into town, both him and his horse all in a lather.” Indeed not, even if Ringo wound up killing himself and law-abiding Tombstone faded into obscurity when the silver played out.

Buffs of the Old West will enjoy Clavin’s careful research and vivid writing.

Pub Date: April 21, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-21458-4

Page Count: 400

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Jan. 20, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2020

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