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"Well-argued and documented"
"The image is ingrained: A Vietnam veteran, arriving home from the war, gets off a plane only to be greeted by an angry mob of antiwar protesters yelling, 'Murderer!' and 'Baby killer!' Then out of the crowd comes someone who spits in the veteran's face. The only problem, according to Jerry Lembcke, is that no such incident ever has been documented. It is instead, says Lembcke, a kind of urban myth that reflects our lingering national confusion over the war."
-Los Angeles Times,
"The myth of the spat-upon veteran is not only bad history, but it has been instrumental in selling the American public on bad policy."
-Maurice Isserman,Chicago Tribune
"The best history I have seen on the impact of the war on Americans, both then and now."
"Lembcke builds a compelling case against collective memory by demonstrating that remembrances of Vietnam were almost at direct odds with circumstantial evidence."
-San Francisco Chronicle,
|1||Introduction: The Spitting Image||1|
|2||Yellow Ribbons and Spat-Upon Veterans: Making Soldiers the Means and Ends of War||11|
|3||Dear Spiro Agnew: About Soldiers, Veterans, and the Anti-war Movement||27|
|4||The Nixon-Agnew Counteroffensive: "Good Veterans" vs. "Bad Veterans"||49|
|5||Spat-Upon Veterans: The Evidence (or Lack Thereof)||71|
|6||From Odysseus to Rambo: Coming-Home Stories||84|
|7||From Badness to Madness: The Mental Labeling of Vietnam Veterans||101|
|8||Women, Wetness, and Warrior Dreams||127|
|9||Myth, Spit, and the Flicks: Coming Home to Hollywood||144|
|10||We Are What We Remember||183|
|About the Author||217|
Posted October 29, 2001
The Spitting Image : Myth, Memory, and the Legacy of Vietnam by Jerry Lembcke-July-1998-New York Univ. Press. Lembke dissects dozens of stories of `Nam vets being spat on by the anti-war movement at home, (usually, legend has it, by a young woman in the San Francisco airport). But even more importantly he eloquently exposes and breaks down who the myth serves, and the importance of accurate recollection; ¿¿Ironically if the real [emphasis added] Vietnam War had been remembered, the Gulf War might not have been fought. We need to take away the power of political and cultural institutions to mythologize our experiences. We need to show how myths are used by political institutions to manipulate the decision making process. And we need to dispel the power of myths like that of the spat-upon Vietnam veteran by debunking them.¿ ¿¿instances of attacks of U.S. officers by their own men are all but forgotten in the popular remembrances of the Vietnam War. Many Americans today ¿know¿ that GIs were mistreated upon their return from Vietnam. Their images of Vietnam veterans run from the hapless sad sack to the freaky serial killer; for them post-traumatic stress disorder is a virtual synonym for the Vietnam veteran. But they have never heard of ¿fragging,¿ the practice of soldiers killing their own officers. The true story of the widespread rebellion of troops in Vietnam and the affinity of GIs and veterans for the politics of the left has been lost in the myth of the spat-upon Vietnam veteran.¿ This is a must read for anyone fighting to keep the real legacies of the Vietnam War alive. Lembcke goes into the history of how important past wars, their veterans, and the common summation of the public, are invaluable in building for support for the next war. He¿s also got a great filmography and references for further study. ¿¿ How Vietnam is to be remembered looms large on the agenda of the turn-of-the-century legacy studies. Remembered as a war that was lost because of betrayal at home, Vietnam becomes a modern day Alamo that must be avenged, a pretext for more war and generations of more veterans. Remembered as a war in which soldiers and pacifists joined hands to fight for peace, Vietnam symbolizes popular resistance to political authority and the dominant images of what it means to be a good American. By challenging myths like that of the Spat-upon Vietnam veteran, we reclaim our role in the writing of our own history, the construction of our own memory, and the making of our own identity.¿ *****Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.