Vietnam Journal

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Written and illustrated by veteran Don Lomax, here is the Vietnam War told in an extraordinary graphic novel. The stories may be fiction, but their intensity and emotional resonance point to social and personal truths that go beyond mere facts.

The troops in Vietnam call war correspondent Scott Neithammer "Journal." His editors sent him to Southeast Asia to write what was happening in South Vietnam. But Neithammer discovers quickly that the real story about the Vietnam War was ...

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Overview

Written and illustrated by veteran Don Lomax, here is the Vietnam War told in an extraordinary graphic novel. The stories may be fiction, but their intensity and emotional resonance point to social and personal truths that go beyond mere facts.

The troops in Vietnam call war correspondent Scott Neithammer "Journal." His editors sent him to Southeast Asia to write what was happening in South Vietnam. But Neithammer discovers quickly that the real story about the Vietnam War was not at division or battalion headquarters. It was in the bush with soldiers who live with the slime, sthe stink, the constant fear and frustration of fighting a war that "the powers that be" would not let them win.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Lomax bases his fictional work on his real experiences in Vietnam in 1966, with powerful results. Narrator Scott Neithammer, in Vietnam as a war correspondent, follows foot soldiers' combat experiences, with each chapter focusing on a personality, a battle or even, as in the first chapter, the history of a lucky field jacket. Lomax's characters and topics include an opportunistic television reporter, a military attack dog, helicopters and the first contact between American and North Vietnamese troops in the Ia Drang Valley. Although Lomax doesn't have much patience for antiwar protesters, he doesn't think the U.S. should've gotten involved in the war. In commenting on the age of Vietnamese civilization, a GI remarks, "Thousands of years of tradition. That's why it's so damned arrogant of us to force these people to live their lives on our terms.... Anyone can see the stupidity here-on both sides." Eventually, a number of American troops have had their fill of war of any kind. A career soldier announces, "Twenty years and I'm out. Then I'm moving into the backwoods as far away from the phonies and the politicians as I can get." It is Lomax's concern for average soldiers that, in the end, makes his work significant. The author sees them as "caught between a rock and a hard place," urged on by politicians but with nothing much to gain by fighting. Lomax's drawing is lean and solid, with strong characterization that never veers into the maudlin. Adults will best understand the book, although junior high and high school students can certainly learn from it. (Aug.) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
School Library Journal
Adult/High School-A powerful collection of stories and history of the Vietnam War, created by a veteran of both the war and of war comics. While some of the work is reprinted, the mix of fact and fiction will be fresh to most readers. Sent to Vietnam to report on the conflict, Scott "Journal" Neithammer expects to do no more than produce another sterilized war report. However, he soon realizes that, "the real story was in the bush with the slime, the stink, the constant fear and frustration." Each episode is a mix of the absurd and horrific as Journal befriends an ever-changing cast of doomed soldiers. As he confronts the death, illogic, and contradiction around him, he becomes as conflicted as the war itself, finally losing his journalistic objectivity in a fit of frustrated rage. The black-and-white artwork is powerful, and Journal's world is a rumpled fusion of realism and caricature. Particularly moving are the few instances where a single image fills the page, but, unfortunately, the colorful, gung-ho cover illustration belies the work's complex content. Very strong language, brutal violence, and sexuality make this one most appropriate for older teens.-Douglas P. Davey, Guelph Public Library, Ontario, Canada Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780743458948
  • Publisher: ibooks, Incorporated
  • Publication date: 2/25/2003
  • Edition description: Graphic Novel
  • Pages: 192
  • Product dimensions: 6.60 (w) x 10.40 (h) x 0.51 (d)

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 22, 2003

    I'm not an objective critic, but...

    ...but here is my two cents, anyway. Vietnam Journal was ahead of its time, treating all concerned with the conflict with empathy, while reckoning quite honestly with the reality of war. Particularly interesting was the eighth issue, 'To Face the Beast', which really hammered the last nails in the coffin of nostalgia for war protestors of the 1960s. Why that particular story didn't win an Eisner for 1988 is beyond me. Like I said, I am not an objective critic: I lettered every issue of the series. For a letterer, Vietnam Journal was a nightmare -- incredibly loaded down with copy, including the minutia of armaments and the like. But it was a joy to be a part of. I'm glad it's been reprinted. Long overdue. Best of luck, Don. Email me sometime.

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