American Rhetoric and the Vietnam War

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Rhetoric during wartime is about the creation of consensus, writes Justin Gustainis. In American Rhetoric and the Vietnam War, he discusses efforts to build or destroy public support of America's most controversial war of the century. Gustainis analyzes several important aspects of Vietnam era rhetoric: presidential rhetoric, protest rhetoric, and the war as portrayed in popular culture. Broadly defining rhetoric as the deliberate use of symbols to persuade, the author explores partisan use of speeches, marches, ...

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Overview

Rhetoric during wartime is about the creation of consensus, writes Justin Gustainis. In American Rhetoric and the Vietnam War, he discusses efforts to build or destroy public support of America's most controversial war of the century. Gustainis analyzes several important aspects of Vietnam era rhetoric: presidential rhetoric, protest rhetoric, and the war as portrayed in popular culture. Broadly defining rhetoric as the deliberate use of symbols to persuade, the author explores partisan use of speeches, marches, songs, military campaigns, gestures, destruction of property, comic strips, and films.

Part One, Prowar Rhetoric, opens with a chapter devoted to the domino theory as a condensation symbol. Subsequent chapters discuss the hero myth in reference to Kennedy and the Green Berets, rhetoric and the Tet Offensive, and Nixon's Silent Majority. Part Two examines antiwar rhetoric, and includes studies of Daniel Berrigan, SDS and the Port Huron Statement, and the Weathermen. Gustainis argues that the antiwar movement did not stop the war, and may have prolonged it. In Part Three, he analyzes Doonesbury as antiwar rhetoric, then turns to an examination of how the war has been portrayed in popular film. Gustainis includes a political, military, and rhetorical chronology of the war as an appendix. Recommended for scholars and students of rhetoric and political communication.

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Editorial Reviews

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Gustainis (communications, State U. of New York) analyzes the rhetoric of Americans who supported the Vietnam War: domino theory, the hero myths of Kennedy and the Green Berets, the Tet offensive, and the "silent majority"; and of those who opposed it, such as Daniel Berrigan, SDS, and the Weathermen. In a third part, he looks at the Doonsebury comic strip as antiwar rhetoric, and the portrayal of the war in popular film. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
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Product Details

Meet the Author

J. JUSTIN GUSTAINIS is Associate Professor of Communication at the State University of New York at Plattsburgh.

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Table of Contents

Series Foreword
Acknowledgments
Introduction
Pt. 1 Prowar Rhetoric 1
1 Dangerous Metaphor: The Domino Theory as Condensation Symbol 3
2 John F. Kennedy and the Green Berets: The Rhetorical Use of the Hero Myth 21
3 "Waist Deep in the Big Muddy": Rhetorical Dimensions of the Tet Offensive 39
4 Nixon and the Silent Majority: The Rhetoric of Shared Values 55
Pt. 2 Antiwar Rhetoric 65
5 Daniel Berrigan and the Rhetoric of Ultra-Resistance 67
6 The Rhetoric of Paradox: SDS and The Port Huron Statement 79
7 Bringing the War Home: The Rhetoric of the Weathermen 87
8 While the Whole World Watched: Rhetorical Failures of Antiwar Protest 107
Pt. 3 The Rhetoric of the Media 127
9 B. D. Goes to 'Nam: Doonesbury as Antiwar Rhetoric 129
10 From Savior to Psycho and Back Again: The Changing Role of Green Berets in Vietnam Films 137
11 Apocalypse Now: A Burkeian Analysis of Cinematic Rhetoric 145
Appendix: The Vietnam War: A Political, Military, and Rhetorical Chronology 153
Selected Bibliography 159
Index 165
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