From Publishers Weekly
A former draft resister who felt he had "a moral duty not to fight in Vietnam," Nicosia (Memory Babe: A Critical Biography of Jack Kerouac) interviewed some 600 men who did take part in the war and who then became active in the antiwar movement, or later worked as veterans' advocates. The result, after a decade's worth of work, is this sprawling, politically charged, personality-driven book. Nicosia takes the story beyond the antiwar years, but concentrates on detailed re-creations of the actions, during the war, of antiwar veterans primarily the leaders of Vietnam Veterans Against the War (VVAW), the often fractious, vehemently antiwar group. Nicosia spins a riveting story at least for the first 300 or so densely packed pages. He clearly empathizes with VVAW leaders such as Jan Barry, Larry Rottman, Scott Camill, Al Hubbard and Ron Kovic (of Born on the Fourth of July fame) all of whom are vividly and compellingly portrayed. And that is the book's main problem, as well as one of its strengths: Nicosia writes with passion, but barely a whit of dispassion, about VVAW's sometimes inspired, sometimes haphazard actions and of the group's turn toward anarchy and ultra-leftist politics, while other, less confrontational Vietnam veterans and groups get short shrift. Long, fine-grained chapters on the Veterans Administration's shameful postwar record on Agent Orange and on post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) tell an important story, but won't be for everyone. It's difficult to envision anyone even remotely concerned with the subject reading this deeply informed account without having an opinion about it the mark of an important book. (May 1) Forecast: Nicosia's aim here seems to be as much advocacy as history and he succeeds at both. This book should generate discussion, and consequent sales, as the Bush administration undertakes a review of the military and its compensation packages, particularly since Gulf War syndrome issues are so analogous to those faced by vets exposed to Agent Orange.
Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.
From Library Journal
The frequently heroic, more often tragic saga of the veterans who fought in the war and then fought against it is told in this gripping narrative, which takes hold of the reader with its haunting cover and doesn't let go for almost 700 pages. While not a vet himself, Nicosia (Memory Babe: A Critical Biography of Jack Kerouac) spent ten years compiling 600 interviews to write the definitive history of this little-understood movement. The Vietnam Veterans Against the War was the most prominent veteran antiwar organization, but it was only one of many loosely bound coalitions that often fell prey to petty internal jealousies and government trickery. During the war, the veterans were known for such prominent gatherings as Operation Raw, a mass protest held at Valley Forge Park in 1970, and Dewey Canyon III, a memorable event held the following year in Washington that culminated in vets returning their medals to the government in disgust. As Nicosia movingly relates, the greatest struggles followed the war, as veterans battled for years to have Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and cancer-inducing Agent Orange recognized as maladies related to service. The tales of the famous and unknown heroes of the movement fill the pages of this War Without Peace. Highly recommended for all public and academic Vietnam-era collections. Karl Helicher, Upper Merion Twp. Lib., King of Prussia, PA
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc.