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.....and it's happening all over again........
on December 2, 2013
This is an important book for anyone interested in the fields of mass communications, media, politics and government. It would make a good text for a media class. It is an analysis of how and why an anti-war activist became a symbol of betrayal as well as a scapegoat for a country that did not want to admit defeat and its own errors. Hershberger does an excellent job of documenting her work and makes copious use of documents released under the Freedom of Information Act, as well as a vast amount of documents released by the FBI regarding their illegal activities. A mountain of documents if you get the picture.
Fonda is a highly intelligent and thoughtful woman who did not take her decisions and actions lightly, but only after much investigation and thought. One of the most important things she did was organizing the Winter Soldier platform, providing a place for returning Vietnamese vets to tell about what was happening in Vietnam during a time when their government did not want to hear it. Illegal bombing, undeclared war, Cambodia, you know the story. The important thing that Fonda wanted to happen with this process was for responsibility to be placed NOT ONLY on individual soldiers in instances such as the My Lai Massacre, but also on the people giving the orders, the officers and the government. This involved a big freedom of speech battle.
It is intriguing to read the story and follow the thread of lies that led to the many myths surrounding Fonda, which Hershberger clearly draws. Here is the lesson in rumors, media games, purposeful political games and it is fascinating. The way the stories about POWs being tortured were told is worth a media course in itself. It is amazing to hear POWs claim they were tortured in a time and place that did not happen, and important to look at the effects of trauma on eye witnesses once again. I certainly wouldn't expect the details to be kept straight in traumatic situations. And so we see another lesson in the need for multiple sources and other methods of corroboration. One of the thing that made this timing important was that because he did not want to withdraw, Nixon specifically targeted Fonda and blamed her for torture.
The fact that Hershberger is here focused on a very specific issue, the activism of Jane Fonda, makes this a quick and clean read. 5 stars.