Rethinking Camelot: JFK, the Vietnam War, and U.S. Political Culture

Overview

Nom Chomsky dismisses efforts to resurrect Camelot—an attractive American myth portraying JFK as a shinning knight promising peace, foiled only by assassins bent on stopping this lone hero from withdrawing from Vietnam. Chomsky argues that US institutions an political culture, not individual presidents, are the key to understanding US behavior during the Vietnam War.

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Overview

Nom Chomsky dismisses efforts to resurrect Camelot—an attractive American myth portraying JFK as a shinning knight promising peace, foiled only by assassins bent on stopping this lone hero from withdrawing from Vietnam. Chomsky argues that US institutions an political culture, not individual presidents, are the key to understanding US behavior during the Vietnam War.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Veteran critic/activist Chomsky ( Deterring Democracy ) analyzes the issue most prominently posed in Oliver Stone's film JFK : was President Kennedy a secret dove whose assassination extinguished a chance to end the Vietnam War? Those willing to follow Chomsky's dry, prosecutorial style will find strong arguments against Kennedy mythologists. He provides context for the Vietnam War with a history of U.S. ``economic warfare'' against ``lesser breeds'' and the roots of world inequality. Then, he analyzes the record of planning the war from 1961 to 1964. He notes that studies of the Vietnamese countryside showed overwhelming sympathy for the Vietcong, leading the U.S. to choose escalated violence. One of Kennedy's trusted, dovish advisors described the president in September 1963 as supporting the war, and Chomsky calls the record on this issue consistent. Shortly after the assassination, Kennedy doves supported Johnson's Vietnam policies, but changed their stance--and their historical memory--after the 1968 Tet Offensive. Chomsky suggests that fascination with Camelot, like support for H. Ross Perot, indicates a desire to project heroism in a time of cultural malaise. (July)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781608464036
  • Publisher: Haymarket Books
  • Publication date: 12/9/2014
  • Edition description: Second Edition
  • Pages: 172

Meet the Author

Noam Chomsky is Institute Professor in the Department of Linguistics and Philosophy at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Boston. A member of the American Academy of Science, he has published widely in both linguistics and current affairs. His books include At War with Asia, Towards a New Cold War, Fateful Triangle: The U. S., Israel and the Palestinians, Necessary Illusions, Hegemony or Survival, Deterring Democracy, Failed States: The Abuse of Power and the Assault on Democracy and Manufacturing Consent: The Political Economy of the Mass Media.

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