In the predawn morning of May 9, 1970, Richard Nixon left the White House and went to the Lincoln Memorial to speak with a handful of antiwar protesters, most of them college students. The nervous president, who, an assistant later said, "wanted to know what they thought," and the awed students talked amiably for a time, and then all concerned went about their business, Nixon conducting a war, the students trying to end it. So reported Dan Oberdorfer for the Washington Post
in one of the dozens of stories, profiles, articles, and dispatches collected in this volume of Vietnam War-era journalism, the second of two content-packed books in a Library of America set. Among the many highlights of the second volume are reports by New York Times
correspondent Sydney Schanberg (of The Killing Fields
fame) on the deadly aftermath of the American invasion of Cambodia; Seymour Hersh's coverage of the My Lai massacre, in which American soldiers under the command of Lt. William Calley killed 109 South Vietnamese civilians; U.S. Senator John McCain's account for U.S. News and World Report
of his six years as a prisoner of war; and, for a weird home-front spin, Hunter S. Thompson's hallucinogen-fueled reportage from the 1972 Democratic National Convention. The complete text of Michael Herr's Dispatches
, an influential and estimable book, is included, as well. Students of Vietnam War history will find this and its companion volume
to be essential sources. --Gregory McNamee
From Library Journal
One of the few achievements of the long Vietnam conflict seems to have been its reporting, as distinct in its own way as the World War II stories of Ernie Pyle and A.J. Liebling. The Vietnam correspondents overcame the official "credibility gap" with a journalistic style that could be cool and defiantly factual, or personal, or sometimes exuberantly paranoid, echoing the soldiers themselves. The style develops as you read these two marvelous volumes: the early news accounts of advisers give way by mid-decade to a mission confusion and a growing respect for the underestimated Vietcong ("We used to call the enemy Victor Charlie. But now we call him Charles. Mr. Charles."). After the 1968 Tet Offensive, a more personal, sardonic voice emerges to match the bitter experience. In all, 80 writers survey the complex scene from all angles?from Don Moser's terrific anatomy of a 1968 guerrilla bombing to first-person accounts by POWs like John McCain, while Norman Mailer watches the street battles waged back home. Not everything here is literature, but the average is high. The collection concludes with Michael Herr's masterly, jungle-weary memoir, "Dispatches." Highly recommended for history, journalism, and literature collections.?Nathan Ward, "Library Journal"
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