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Hanoi Jane: War, Sex, and Fantasies of Betrayal (Culture, Politics & the Cold War)

3.7 out of 5 stars 9 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-1558498150
ISBN-10: 155849815X
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Editorial Reviews

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"This is not a narrowly focused effort to compare the 'real' Jane Fonda to the image of 'Hanoi Jane.' Rather, Lembcke shows how Fonda's demonization played an important part in a powerful right-wing campaign to attribute American defeat in Vietnam to left-wing scapegoats and to reconstitute U.S. power as well as the ideal of aggressive masculinity."―Christian G. Appy, author of Patriots: The Vietnam War Remembered from All Sides

"Pulsing with brilliant insights and invaluable scholarship, Hanoi Jane is much more than a biography of a single myth. It is an exploration of some of the tangled cultural, psychological, and historical strands that constitute American memory of the Vietnam War, memory with profound influence on American culture and behavior in the last quarter of the twentieth century and the first decade of the twenty-first."―H. Bruce Franklin, author of Vietnam and Other American Fantasies

"As Lembcke tackles the question of where the moniker Hanoi Jane first appeared, he offers fascinating anecedotal evidence of the fervent beliefs that continue to fuel the betrayal myth in the twenty-first century. . . . In this provocative study, Lembcke probes the way in which political dissent combined with American anxieties about class, gender, and celebrity to vilify a woman who followed her political conscience."―Women's Review of Books

"Lembke argues that popular perception of Jane Fonda's trip to North Vietnam as representative of left-wing subversive anti-Americanism is a part of right-wing myth making. Recommended [for] general readers and undergraduate students."―Choice

"In his provocative book, Lembcke, a Vietnam veteran, challenges many of the conventional wisdoms surrounding the Vietnam War. . . . [It] is crucial that we carefully examine the work of Lembcke and exorcise some of the ghosts of Vietnam and their contemporary political manipulation in support of war and militarism."―The Journal of American Culture

"Hanoi Jane is an important contribution to scholarship on American public memory-making of the Vietnam War and our efforts to consolidate Vietnam with the Gulf wars through the use of a political trope. It is a well-researched book that explores the national identity, the politics of war narratives, gendered constructions and anxieties during the post-wartime, public memory, and the power of myth-making."―Journal of Vietnamese Studies

About the Author

Jerry Lembcke is professor of sociology at The College of the Holy Cross and author of The Spitting Image: Myth, Memory, and the Legacy of Vietnam.
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Product Details

  • Series: Culture, Politics & the Cold War
  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: University of Massachusetts Press (May 6, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 155849815X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1558498150
  • Product Dimensions: 0.8 x 6.2 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #954,613 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Format: Paperback
Interesting book; I picked it up at my local library while carrying out a self-taught, crash-course primer on the Vietnam era. My own thoughts are that because of the way the American government carried out the war in Vietnam, it was a mistake, but the young men who were drafted are the very best America had to offer--real "citizen soldiers" in the tradition of Cincinnatus. On pages 60-61 when describing the ordeals faced by some American POWs in captivity, Dr. Lembcke writes: "It is possible that it was not the extinguishing of (them)Selves that they feared...so much as their conversion to the ways of the Vietnamese and the righteousness of their cause." This is what the book is really about; the "righteousness" of the Vietnamese "cause". The rest of the book argues that the concept of "Hanoi Jane" was a post-war myth spun by American right-wingers who tried to explain the nation's defeat in terms of an age-old cultural trope focusing on the emasculation of male warriors by women during time of war. Along the way Lembcke tries very hard to downplay the sufferings of American POWs in captivity; he disputes pretty much every detail about Jane Fonda's cavorting with the North Vietnamese, and he seems to admire female combatants who served with the Vietcong and North Vietnamese Army during the war. I gave the book 5 stars because he got the book published--always a very difficult task. But Dr. Lembcke should have prefaced the text by stating at the outset that his principal identification is with the side Fonda sympathized with. Is he a traitor? Of course not. We have freedom of thought in America (unlike other parts of the world, such as Vietnam). But why not state your position more clearly at the outset? What do you have to loose?Read more ›
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Jerry Lembcke has provided a fine analysis of how Jane Fonda came to be a symbol of betrayal for a lot of hawks in the aftermath of the VN War. This is a fine analysis, right up there with Lembcke's explanation of one of the continuing myths, the idea that we VN vets were spat on by hippies, anti-war activists, etc., when we got off the Freedom Birds back home. That book is titled Spitting Image and is worth reading, too. I strongly recommend Hanoi Jane. This book helps explain why so many people still go nuts whenever her name is mentioned.
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Extremely interesting and objective.. I am a Vietnam Veteran who was with the VVAW after I came home from Vietnam. I appreciate her efforts to expose the war as very wrong for America and for those who had served or were serving at the time, and our involvement was especially wrong for the Vietnamese. Over 5 million killed. It took great courage for her to travel to North Vietnam. She was wealthy, an international star, and member of the "jet set". She didn't have to do anything. The war would never affect her, but she chose to travel Vietnam, and put herself in harm's way. She in an honorable, classy woman who should be praised for her efforts, because her being there may have brought our servicemen and woman home earlier thus saving many lives. I respect and admire her for standing up to help end that senseless war.
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Lembcke is a Vietnam vet who has been intensely interested in how the lost Vietnam War has been reinterpreted and understood by conservative veteran groups and the broader U.S. right wing. In his earlier book The Spitting Image Lembcke researched and wrote a fact driven book that proved, contrary to massive propaganda to the contrary, that returning GI's from Vietnam had NOT BEEN spit upon by anti-war protesters as alleged in Hollywood films, novels, GI memoirs, and journalists. In Hanoi Jane Lembcke continues his de-bunking analysis by looking at Jane Fonda/Hanoi Jane. The book is not at all about Fonda, but instead about Hanoi Jane, a fictional creation in the tradition of Tokyo Rose and Mata Hari. The Hanoi Jane myth targets Fonda as a treasonous figure responsible for the loss of the Vietnam War. The right's Hanoi Jane characterization serves to erase historical memory of the valiant Vietnamese struggle for independence along with the large scale resistance within the U.S. military itself that eventually forced the government to mercifully end the war. Lembcke also explains how the "spit upon vet" and Hanoi Jane have been used to sell the Gulf War and the post-9/11 wars to the American public. To the hard core right this book will be further evidence of left wing venality, but to those with open minds who understand and can recognize reason, research, evidence, and skilled argumentation, Hanoi Jane will provide a valuable educational experience.
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HANOI JANE: WAR, SEX & FANTASIES OF BETRAYAL offers a historic and scholarly analysis of the myth and origins of Hanoi Jane, considering fantasies of home-front betrayal and considering how the Hanoi Jane expression and myth began. Anxieties about America's declining global status and deteriorating economy fueled an antiwar movement and popular conflicts with the military: this reconsiders the origins of the myth and its impact on American social and military culture alike.
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