In this book James E. Westheider explores the social and professional paradoxes facing African-American soldiers in Vietnam. Service in the military started as a demonstration of the merits of integration as blacks competed with whites on a near equal basis for the first time. Military service, especially service in Vietnam, helped shape modern black culture and fostered a sense of black solidarity in the Armed Forces. But as the war progressed, racial violence became a major problem for the Armed Forces as they failed to keep pace with the sweeping changes in civilian society. Despite the boasts of the Department of Defense, personal and institutional racism remained endemic to the system. Westheider tells this story expertly and accessibly by providing the history and background of African American participation in the U.S. Armed Forces then following all the way through to the experience of African Americans returning home from the Vietnam war.
About the Author
James E. Westheider is associate professor of American history and interim chair of the Humanities Division at the University of Cincinnati-Clermont College and a faculty member there since 1998. He is the author of Fighting on Two Fronts: African-Americans and the Vietnam War.
Table of Contents
Chapter 1: African Americans in the Armed Forces before Vietnam
Chapter 2: American Involvement in Vietnam and the Draft
Chapter 3: The Black Military Experience in the Vietnam Era
Chapter 4: Anti-War Sentiment and Black Disillusionment
Chapter 5: Racial Violence in the Military and the Military Response
Chapter 6: Vietnamization and Going Home
What People are Saying About This
Westheider reminds us why he is the pre-eminent authority on the history of the African American experience in Vietnam. Alongside a detailed assessment of the relationship between African Americans and their nation's armed forces, and of the racism confronting African Americans during the Vietnam era, he provides a nuanced analysis of Black responses to the hardships they encountered during this turbulent period of American history. In clear and accessible language Westheider tells a story of both adversity and achievement that will appeal to specialists and non-specialists alike.
James Westheider has used groundbreaking research and thoughtful historical chronology to tell a story within a story; that of the African American experience in the Vietnam War. He brings to the surface issues and concerns that have been long forgotten or hidden from the American conscious. From this work we can rewrite the history of the Vietnam War and include, as a central part, the experience of African Americans.
Westheider analyzes the intersection of racial politics at home and in Vietnam, Civil Rights and the antiwar movement, the promise of equality with the reality of continued discrimination, and ultimately, the attempts to remedy those problems. This is both an excellent introduction to the topic, and a great addition to anyone who has begun studying Blacks in the military. Again, Westheider has provided us with an outstanding resource.
This is a work that any serious African American history class or African American studies class will need. Westheider does a masterful job of analyzing how African American soldiers met the challenges of racism in the services and shaped African American culture. Westheider's expertise shines through a beautifully crafted, well-researched book. Scholars and students will appreciate this contribution to the field.