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From Melos to My Lai: A Study in Violence, Culture and Social Survival Hardcover – June 26, 2000

ISBN-13: 978-0415171601 ISBN-10: 0415171601

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Routledge (June 26, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0415171601
  • ISBN-13: 978-0415171601
  • Product Dimensions: 0.8 x 6.5 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #6,195,877 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

This is a tough, uncompromising, and provocative study in which Tritle (history, Loyola Marymount Univ.; The Greek World in the Fourth Century: From the Fall of the Athenian Empire to the Successors of Alexander) tells the bitter history of the Vietnam War against the background of the wars of classical Greece. The citizens of Melos in the title surrendered unconditionally to the Athenians only to have the men of military age put to death and their women and children sold as slaves. The author equates that event with the My Lai massacre of 1968, when U.S. soldiers indiscriminately killed Vietnamese villagers, mostly women and children. That analogy is only one of many drawn between the classics and Vietnam. Tritle, himself a Vietnam vet, says that "a generation of Americans was deceived in almost criminal fashion [in Vietnam] and exposed to horrific situations of violence in which they were both its agents and objects." Recommended for public and academic libraries.-Chet Hagan, Historical Soc. of Berks Cty., Reading, P.-- and exposed to horrific situations of violence in which they were both its agents and objects." Recommended for public and academic libraries.
Chet Hagan, Historical Soc. of Berks Cty., Reading, PA
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Review

This narrative of how an intelligent and reflective person can articulate so violent and disturbing an experience, and consider its meaning,is is finely expressed...has many layers of interest for those who think about continuing Classical Tradition..
International Journal of the Classical Tradition, Summer 2002

...very fascinating perspectives.
–Choice

This is a tough, uncompromising, and provocative study. Recommended for public and academic libraries.
Library Journal, July 2000

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Charles E. Patterson on January 31, 2002
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
With impeccable scholarship and remarkable insight, Lawrence Tritle has unearthed and exposed the history of the ordinarily unremarked trauma of war. While deaths are faithfully recorded and wounds usually obvious, the lasting effect of war on the remaining warriors and those close to them has only recently been examined. Shay's "Achilles in Vietnam" was the first to look back at the Illiad and draw a parallel between the "post traumatic stress disorder" found in Vietnam vets and the descriptions of the effect of the Trojan war on Achilles.
Lawrence Tritle has used the juxtaposition of a remote massacre in the Peloponnesian War and the massacre at My Lai some 2500 years later to connect the experience of Greek warriors such as the Spartan general Clearchus with Vietnam veterans to demonstrate that the emotional damage of war, while sometimes recognized, but usually quickly forgotten between wars, is universal.
This book is a great service to Vietnam veterans who can take some comfort that the battles they have fought within themselves have been fought by a long line of others before them, almost always in darkness and silence. For the historian this is a fresh view of war,well researched and analyzed An impressive achievement.
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6 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Steven Zoraster on September 5, 2000
Format: Paperback
I recently read a book review in a liberal magazine that suggested that "heroism" in future wars would be displayed by "soldiers" typing away at keyboards, protected by distance from physical harm. Naturally, that magazine did not publish my letter disputing its view. That someone could publish such stupidity suggests that the truth about the nature of state-organized military violence has disappeared from the consciousness of certain sections of the American public in the 3 decades since the end of American participation in the Vietnam War.
Of course, "the truth", whatever it is, may have already been hidden from Americans during the Vietnam War. Or, it may be hidden from protected "civilians" - like me - for all time. Which is why I found this book, which examines parallels in personal experience in the Vietnam War and Classical and Homeric Greek soldiers fighting over 2 thousand years ago, so interesting.
The author's stated purpose for writing this book is "to show how the experience of surviving [sustained conflict and violence] for prolonged periods, and how the experience of surviving that violence ripples through societies and cultures from one generation to the next". Most of the book consists of comparisons between the military and civilian experience of war as revealed in historical writing and plays produced by Homeric and Classical Greeks, and history books, novels, and movies about Vietnam. The comparisons are intermixed with some of the author's own combat experiences in Vietnam. Using this material the author attempts to show that the secret life of those who have been exposed to violence is very similar through the ages. Certainly anyone with an interest in warfare in ancient Greece and modern military history will find this interesting material.
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1 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Michael Young on June 22, 2001
Format: Paperback
"From Melos To My Lai: Violence, Culture and Survival" explores the relationship between combat experiences recorded from antiquity to the present day, with a particular emphasis on the experiences of the ancient Greeks during their various conquests and those of Americans during the Vietnam War. Through his comprehensive research, Dr. Lawrence A. Tritle provides compelling evidence confirming that "shell shock" and "combat fatigue" were present in ancient civilization and long before the condition was recognized as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
Because I am a veteran myself, and have worked professionally in the field of Trauma and PTSD for most of my adult life, I am often puzzled at the claims of those disputing the authenticity of war's psychological effects. What does not surprise me is that the majority of these claims are frequently made by individuals who are neither combat veterans nor mental health professionals. Even more disturbing is the idea that somehow our veterans suffering from PTSD warrant less recognition for their combat induced psychological wounds then those that received a battle related physical injury. In "Melos to My Lai," Tritle works valiantly to dispel any myth that PTSD is somehow a fabrication of sympathy seeking Vietnam veterans.
Although it has been called by many other names throughout the ages (Combat Fatigue, War Neurosis, Delayed Stress, etc.), there is no doubt that PTSD is indeed an ugly reality of war. The following information on PTSD among Vietnam War veterans is taken from the National Vietnam Veterans Readjustment Survey (NVVRS, 1990) report and provided by the National Center for PTSD (NCPTSD): "The estimated lifetime prevalence of PTSD among American Vietnam theater veterans is 30.9% for men and 26.9% for women.
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3 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Patricio Garrahan on June 25, 2001
Format: Hardcover
I felt rather disappointed reading this book. I seems to me that the author failed in giving a convincing picture. His comparisons of the Vietmam experience and classical or Homeric Greece are either superficial or forced. I suppose that the book may attract persons more involved in the Vietnam affair than I but I am convinced that this is caused by the Vietnam experience and not by the comparisons with classical Greece.
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From Melos to My Lai: A Study in Violence, Culture and Social Survival
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