Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
Other Sellers on Amazon
+ $3.99 shipping
Home to War: A History of the Vietnam Veterans' Movement Paperback – March 19, 2002
See the Best Books of the Month
Want to know our Editors' picks for the best books of the month? Browse Best Books of the Month, featuring our favorite new books in more than a dozen categories.
Customers who bought this item also bought
Customers who viewed this item also viewed
Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.
From Chapter One: Coming Up with a Politics: Vietnam Veterans Against the War
1. Six Vets and a Banner
He was twenty-three years old and had not yet taken his pen name of Jan Barry. He was moderately tall, gangly rather than muscular, and with his long nose and lank dark hair looked something like a pensive Henry David Thoreau. He was, in short, nobody out of the ordinary in that crowd of 50,000 antiwar protestors marching through New York City on April 7, 1967. Since he wore a suit and tie and tan raincoat, there was no way to identify him as a Vietnam veteran, except by inference, since he was marching along with a small, ragtag bunch of guys -- none of them in uniform -- who carried an impromptu painted banner that read vietnam veterans against the war! The irony was that at that point there was no such organization -- just a hastily improvised slogan that a few guys chose to identify themselves with. But within two months there would be such an organization -- Vietnam Veterans Against the War, known more popularly as VVAW -- and Jan Barry would be its founder. The organization would put Richard Nixon into a panic, provoke FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover into breaking the law in order to destroy it, precipitate the last major conspiracy trial of the era, and bring to prominence at least one leader of national stature, John Kerry, who would eventually become the junior United States senator from Massachusetts.( 1.Interviews: JBC, 1,2,3; MS. Documents: FBI files on VVAW, 1968-1977, received through Freedom of Information Act) And the man who had founded it -- far from becoming a household name -- would be forgotten.
His real name was Jan Barry Crumb, and he had been born and raised in the Finger Lakes region of upstate New York. He had been to Vietnam in 1963 in the U.S. Army's 18th Aviation Company, at a time when the United States was not even supposed to have a military presence in Indochina other than "advisors." Upon his return, he enrolled in West Point. But he was deeply troubled about what he had seen in Vietnam -- especially what he perceived as the utter callousness and disdain of the American military toward the human needs of the Vietnamese people. He resigned from the academy in November 1964, feeling completely alone, unable to believe that anyone else felt as he did. To finish out his enlistment he was sent back into the Army, to an installation in Alabama. In spring 1965, the civil rights movement was in full bloom as Martin Luther King Jr. led 50,000 protesters from Montgomery to Selma, and it opened Crumb's eyes a bit further to the injustice in America. That same spring, 22,000 American troops were dispatched to Santo Domingo to save the Dominican Republic from "Communism." Meanwhile, the war in Vietnam took a quantum leap when the Marines landed in Da Nang in March. Jan Crumb did not yet know there was an American peace movement, but when he got out of the military, he went in search of what he called "some other way."
It took him two years to find that other way. He lived in New Jersey for a while, then moved to Manhattan and began working for a newspaper. He left the paper for a job at the New York Public Library, where his coworkers were mostly university students. One day, in March 1967, he heard some of them talking about a big peace demonstration that was scheduled to take place on April 7 outside the United Nations. The day of the demo, he met with a group of friends, planning to attend it in their company. It was a momentous day in his life for more than one reason -- he would meet his future wife, Paula, in that group.
Jan Crumb was not the only Vietnam veteran in attendance at what was being called the Fifth Avenue Peace Parade. Prior to the event, a group of less than a dozen vets had gone to the Peace Parade Committee's office to announce that they would like to be featured prominently in the march. When asked their affiliation, they had answered simply that they were "Vietnam veterans against the war." Some worker in the office who had a good sense for publicity immediately made them up a banner with their phrase in bold letters, as if it were a title. (2. Interviews: JBC, 1; BR, 1.)
The demonstration was starting off in Central Park, and when Crumb arrived there, he heard someone say, "Vietnam veterans to the front." So Crumb said goodbye to his friends and walked toward a large contingent of older veterans wearing blue overseas caps that read veterans for peace.
At the head of that group was a handful of guys his own age, six of whom were in the lead with the long vietnam veterans against the war! banner. Behind these Vietnam vets was a scattering of their wives and children.
Crumb did not know any of the Vietnam vets, but he took his place among them, at the very front of the parade. In those days, a lot of people in the country were still furious about antiwar protesters, and Crumb worried that there might be snipers lying in wait for them along the route -- or at the very least, counterdemonstrators. Sure enough, as the parade moved along, groups of construction workers began to hurl construction materials at the marchers. They did not throw anything at the veterans, however. He was relieved, but also intrigued by the immunity their military service had apparently earned them.
When the marchers reached the United Nations, the group of Vietnam veterans disbanded. Curious about who their leader was, Crumb inquired among some of the older Veterans for Peace, who led him to a VFP meeting. There, Crumb learned that there was no group called Vietnam Veterans Against the War; that in fact the marchers who carried the banner had hoped that it would draw other Vietnam vets to join them -- which, except for the arrival of Crumb and possibly a couple of others, had not happened.
By this time, however, Jan Crumb was convinced that there were a sizable number of Vietnam veterans against the war, and that they should exist as a real organization. He took it upon himself to make that organization a reality.
Crumb began tracking down some of the Vietnam veterans who had marched in the April 7 Peace Parade, or who had come forward later to express their interest, and by Memorial Day he had gathered a group of about ten men. This small group went to Washington for a Memorial Day peace demonstration that had been organized by Veterans for Peace. Two days later, on June 1, 1967, six of those Vietnam veterans met in Crumb's New York apartment at 208 E. 7th Street on the Lower East Side. It was the same day the Six Day War in Israel began.
The meeting took place in Crumb's kitchen, and from the start there was dissension. One vet was Jewish, another had studied Arabic, and a fierce debate began about the merits of each side's cause in the Mideast conflict. Crumb was quick to perceive that they could not, and should not try to, agree on anything except the one issue that had brought them together -- the need to end the war in Vietnam.
From the Inside Flap
An epic narrative history that chronicles, for the first time, the experience of America's Vietnam veterans who returned home to fight a different kind of war.
The courageous Americans who served in Vietnam fought two wars: one on the other side of the world and one when they returned home. The battle abroad took place in war-scarred Asian hamlets, rice paddies, and jungles where thousands of Americans risked life, limb, and spirit in a conflict few of them fully understood. The second war began when these same soldiers came home to face another fight, this one for the hearts and minds of their countrymen, and for their own health, sanity, and peace of mind.
Home to War presents a vivid portrait of a generation of American warriors who faced rejection by the nation in whose name they fought and virtual abandonment by the government that sent them to risk their young lives in Southeast Asia. In spite of formidable obstacles, including the still-fresh physical and mental traumas of the war, these young veterans joined together and committed themselves to heroic battles on the home front, from their unsung role in the antiwar movement to their unflagging campaign for medical help and compensation for Agent Orange exposure and post-traumatic stress wounds.
Home to War tells the gripping stories of these veterans and the social and political movements they inspired. In its pages you?ll meet Jan Barry, a disillusioned former West Point cadet who founded Vietnam Veterans Against the War, a volatile organization that would become a lightning rod for controversy and a beacon of hope for returning vets; Al Hubbard, a charismatic former Black Panther who led thousands of angry veterans to the steps of the nation?s capital to protest the war and the government?s shabby treatment of its veterans; Ron Kovic, whose outrageous ? and courageous ? stunts, uncensored comments, and provocative politics drew needed attention to the cause; Dr. Chaim Shatan, whose pioneering ?rap groups? speeded the psychological healing process for countless vets; Victor Yannacone Jr., who launched a precedent-shattering ? and ultimately successful ? legal case to gain compensation for veterans harmed by Agent Orange exposure; and many others whose inspiring struggles served themselves, their fellow soldiers, and their country.
Home to War is a passionate work of contemporary history and an essential addition to the literature of America?s Vietnam experience. Encompassing some thirty years of activism, readjustment, and healing, it is a fitting tribute to the unbreakable courage, idealism, and decades-long endurance of this generation of American soldiers. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
Browse award-winning titles. See more
If you are a seller for this product, would you like to suggest updates through seller support?
Top customer reviews
Maybe in his next edition, he will include some of the findings from the extensive files the FBI kept on VVAW, and lay to rest some of the urban legends being spread even by at least one reviewer here.
For instance, the VVAW "meeting" in Kansas City was actually a series of meetings over a four day period. Neither the participants nor the FBI files show Kerry present at any meeting where "assassinations" were discussed in any form. In fact, the FBI informants do not mention any such discussion at all, much less a vote. By all accounts of those there, one individual stood up and started riffing, and once people realized he wasn't joking, he was shouted down. As Nicosia points out time and again, nonviolence was an underlying principle of VVAW.
Even the FBI concluded that Kerry was in no way associated with any sort of violent activity or discussion, ever.
Nicosia is a myth-buster. He has his hands full in this election year.
The subjectivity of Nicosia can be readily ascertained by reviewing his treatment of Mark Lane's book "Conversations with Americans" starting on page 79. Lane was an attorney who enjoyed a rather close relationship with Jane Fonda who kept Lane in a leadership role in the Winter Soldier Investigation that she funded. Nicosia states that Neil Sheehan questioned Lane about his book and asked why he (Lane) did not cross check any of his interviewees' stories. Further down in the same paragraph, "As the War crimes heated up, Lane doubtless knew that his book would be challenged to it's authenticity and accuracy; so it was in his interest both literary and commercial, to have a group of veterans corroborate his stories". The implication being that Lane's work wasn't flawed but simply lacked cross checking.
This isn't quite what happened. Neil Sheehan, a New York Times Reporter and clearly antiwar in his views was asked to prepare a review of Lane's book for the "New York Time Book Review". Sheehan would soon break the Pentagon Papers story and win a Pulitzer Prize for later work.
Sheehan published his review of Lane's book on December 27, 1970 and he hammered both Lane and the publisher Simon and Schuster.
In case after case, Sheehan found the witnesses story were fabricated and that Lane hadn't bothered to cross check the facts.
One witness told Lane his father was an ex-Nazi tank commander and now commanding U.S. Troops in Vietnam. That Lane could simply accept that a Nazi Tank Commander was now in the US Army is scary. When the names were checked by Sheehan, the officer simply did not exist.
Tracking down the commanding officer of another witness, Sheehen discovered the witness wasn't anywhere near where he said he was.
Another witness a medic, refused orders into a combat area twice, then admitted to stealing morphine and committing a homosexual act resulting in a court martial and undesirable discharge. Lane accepted the man's claims to have been in combat and a witness to all kinds of atrocities without bothering to check.
Another GI who told Lane of atrocities went AWOL, was captured and then discovered to be wanted for a murder in Denver. He was then committed to a hospital for the criminally insane. And he had never been in Vietnam.
The publisher Simon and Shuster was embarrassed by their lack of due diligence and admitted they had failed to follow up on Lane's research.
Sheehan was upset as he believed that atrocities probably were being committed and that Lane's book did more harm than good. In short, Lane's book was thoroughly debunked. Hardly the impression one would get in reading Nicosia's account. But then Nicosia is trying to validate VVAWs Winter Soldier Investigations and Lane's work was an integral part of the build up to this investigation. Nicosia's treatment fails to debunk Lane's work which casts some serious doubts on Nicosia's work.
As to VVAW, there were 9.6 million GIs who served during the Vietnam War. VVAW had no more than 8,000 members and not all were even military. No VVAW protest ever garnered more then about 2,000 Vets and from experience, we know not all the vets were in fact vets. Hardly the voice of Vietnam Vets.
Politically, the guys that this book is about weren't accomplishing much on their own, so they tried to support Senator Eugene McCarthy in his run for president early in 1968. At least McCarthy wanted an end to the war in Vietnam, and that's what they wanted. "On March 12, McCarthy stunned the nation by winning 20 of New Hampshire's 24 convention delegates." (p. 30). That month, Larry Rottmann, who had been wounded in the Tet offensive, was discharged from the Army. Then he spent a week in Wisconsin working for McCarthy. When they went to Indiana, "Rottman was in charge of a group of vets that followed Kennedy around in order to wave their McCarthy placards in his face every time he spoke to the media." (p. 30). Robert Kennedy was then a Senator from New York, formerly Attorney General of the United States and popular enough to get "42 percent of the vote in Indiana, compared to McCarthy's 27 percent. Rottmann took his group of vets to the airport in Lincoln, Nebraska, to await Kennedy's arrival for the primary there. Exasperated to see the same guys in his face once again, Kennedy confronted Rottmann and demanded, `Why are you working against me?' Rottmann replied that they weren't . . ." (p. 30). They were just trying to remind him that some people "simply found McCarthy `more down-to-earth and more sincere, both in his politics and in his lifestyle.' Kennedy evidently failed to appreciate Rottmann's point of view; he restated his dismay that Vietnam veterans weren't campaigning on his behalf instead of McCarthy's." (p. 30). It can be embarrassing to try to tell a frontrunner what the multitude of radicals really think, when the idea that they all think gets this fuzzy. Elections are too important to let the candidates who are best politically, with their illusion that they agree with everybody, think that anyone really cares about them. Another President Kennedy might have been able to end the Vietnam war at that time by letting the Pope tell him how, and a lot of people thought that he would, until "... Sirhan Sirhan aimed a pistol at his head, taking him out of politics forever and enshrining him as one more dead American hero." (p. 31). I'm not sure that the bullet in Robert Kennedy's head came from Sirhan Sirhan, since a security guard was behind Kennedy and a lot more shots were fired than Sirhan Sirhan's pistol could manage, but this book is more about perceptions than about what was actually going on, and the police in Los Angeles, California, typically take a pretty simple view of what was going on, as well as taking as much of the evidence as they could get their hands on. HOME TO WAR isn't supposed to be about a war in the United States between the police and people who are politically active, but pages 33 on to 36, about "what a battlefield Chicago was destined to become that August," show how much it helped veterans realize "that lying on a big scale had become the American way of life, and it was just such lying that had kept the war going, and going nowhere, for so many years."
Finally, on page 59, "VVAW was just beginning to initiate the `rap groups,' which were groups of veterans sitting around in a room and confiding to one another the most troubling aspects of both their military service and their experiences in coming home from the war. Toward the end of 1970, Al Hubbard would bring in two psychiatrists, Chaim Shatan and Robert Jay Lifton, to guide the discussions." (p. 59). It isn't too surprising that, with all this introspection, the political situation came to reflect a deeper shudder, with the participation of guys who had served in graves registration, who "naturally gravitated toward the crazies." (p. 120). I believe in the reality of this kind of book.
Most recent customer reviews
By Gerald Nicosia
Richard Edward Noble
I thought I knew a lot about this issue.Read more