21 STAYED by Virginia Pasley


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Virginia Pasley traveled some 15,000 miles in twenty-three states in search of some answers to the question that caused so much concern at the close of the Korean War -- namely, why twenty-one Gis refused repatriation. Talking to relatives, teachers, neighbors, priests, Virginia Pasley wondered whether there were any common denominators in the stories of the boys who stayed behind. The results were provocative. She found that while the boys came from city, town, country, and great majority were from unstable homes, many of which knew loss; that they were mainly non-mixers, had suffered need in material as well as psychic terms; were mostly the oldest or the only boy in the family, undereducated (only two had gone to college, and these were not highly endowed boys). Her conclusion is that the Communists chose these boys from a number of willing volunteers to comprise an example for propaganda, a group with a few leaders and a number of followers, already softened by their particular backgrounds and ready for a final workover by the Communist come-on. Working from the knowledge gained by fifty-page autobiographies, they appealed to each individual in particular terms, while allowing the group itself to work. The author makes three recommendations: that soldiers be armed with the tools necessary to fight ideological warfare, that education take into greater account the slow learner or emotionally disturbed child, that we must have knowledge of Communism rather than repressing its mention in schools. Reasonable, not claiming to be the final or complete word, this is a revealing document.

Pub Date: June 22nd, 1955
Publisher: Farrar, Straus