Vietnam: The Heartland Remembers

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Overview

This oral history offers the voices of thirty-three Oklahomans. Some of them fought in the Vietnam War, and others waited—some are still waiting—for their loved ones to come home, alive or in a body bag. In the ranks of Stanley W. Beesley’s compilation are reluctant warriors, gung ho marines, skeptics, embittered former patriots, and humanists—whites, blacks, Indians, and Hispanics; men and women; officers and grunts. These men and women recount their experiences not as heroes but as ordinary people thrust by politics and fate into the uncommon circumstances of the Vietnam War. In Vietnam, they bring to life their deadened memories and remind us of what some have chosen to forget.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
The 30-odd people represented here have two things in common: ``They went to Vietnam without a whimper and returned without whining,'' and they are all from Oklahoma. Intended as an oral history in the spirit of Al Santoli's Everything We Had and Mark Baker's Nam, this collection lacks the power of either, although the short reminiscences are not uninteresting. Doctor Jack Welch comments on the callousness of journalists. Infantry scout Wilber Brown recalls what it was like to become lost in the jungle and nearly captured. Ranger Billy Walkabout describes his initiation into his tribe's warrior society on his return home. David Price, former counterintelligence scout, relates his struggle to overcome the stigma of being an ex-POW and Vietnam vet. Kathryn Fanning, widow of a Marine pilot, describes her attempts to learn what happened to her husband's remains, accusing the Marine Corps of a cover-up. (September)
Library Journal
Beesley's oral history of 33 Oklahomans who foughtor who waited for those who didin the Vietnam War joins a growing number of personal accounts of that conflict, among them Philip Caputo's A Rumor of War (LJ 5/15/77), Al Santoli's Everything We Had (LJ 4/15/87) and To Bear Any Burden (LJ 5/1/85), Mark Baker's Nam (LJ 3/15/81), etc. Beesley's work makes its own distinctive contribution. He presents the stories of men, women, whites, minorities, grunts, nurses, etc., born in the ``heartland'' but fighting a war in a faraway land filled with natural beauty and unnatural death. All the nomenclature of the war is here (there is a glossary), along with the sense of this as both national episode and personal tragedy. Beesley provides an update on what these participants are doing today. Highly recommended. James L. Jablonowski, History Dept., Marquette Univ., Milwaukee
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780806121628
  • Publisher: University of Oklahoma Press
  • Publication date: 9/28/1987
  • Edition description: REPRINT
  • Pages: 214
  • Sales rank: 1,490,540
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.50 (h) x 0.49 (d)

Meet the Author

Stanley W. Beesley, who was a Ranger team leader in Vietnam and twice was awarded the Bronze Star, teaches school in Shawnee, Oklahoma. Of the other contributors, whose accounts he compiled and edited, he says, "They opened up their souls and trusted me and let me carry their hearts around in my hands."

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