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Home to War: A History of the Vietnam Veterans Movement 1st Edition

3.9 out of 5 stars 21 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0812991031
ISBN-10: 0812991036
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Editorial Reviews

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.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 688 pages
  • Publisher: Crown; 1st edition (April 24, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0812991036
  • ISBN-13: 978-0812991031
  • Product Dimensions: 9.4 x 6.6 x 2.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.6 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #630,689 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
As one of the participants in many of the demonstrations so eloquently described in Home to War, Gerry Nicosia has accurately portrayed historic events in a powerful movement that continues today. People of all ages and backgrounds will benefit from reading this book that recounts the Vietnam Veteran's "battles" at home, battles often worse than those they encountered on the field of war. Home to War describes the struggle that Vietnam Veterans went through on their own to obtain help in healing with herbicide exposure (Agent Orange)and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
Gerry's description of some key players in this movement, such as Jack McCloskey, Ron Kovic and Ron Bitzer is right on target and helps the reader to better understand the struggle and the motivations behind the Vietnam Veteran's movement.
Senator Bob Kerry's recent disclosure of his participation in atrocities in Vietnam underscores the anguish and scars that Vietnam Veterans still live with more than 30 years after the end of the war.
While much has been written and portrayed in films about this unpopular war, this book is the most comprehensive in detailing the positive actions taken by returning veterans in what seemed to be an unending struggle to heal, in what can be called the greatest "self-help" movement of all time.
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Format: Hardcover
As a Vietnam Veteran (U.S. ARMY)I suffered the neglect, indifference and prejudice that all Veteran's did. I heard of other Vets who were making noise about it, and was curious enough to go see for myself what was going on at the Westwood VA, but I didn't participate. I was sprayed with Agent Orange when I was in Phan Thiet in 1969, and I got the wrong answers from the VA when (in 1979) I complained about symptoms of Agent Orange. I also had been told that my Medical Records were lost. Many of my experiences, I must confess I didn't understand, this book explains what was happening and Why! If you want to find the truth about your experiences, or are the family of a Vet who wants to understand, you need!!! to read this book. It's long and hard reading, but it will give you the truth, it will make you angry, nervous, and disgusted, but it will make you cry too for the Veterans who died after the War, At Home, Fighting the VA, Government and Chemical Companies.
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Format: Hardcover
For those of us who came of age during the Vietnam era, this book vividly recalls the heady temper of the times, as well as the manifest ways in which the gruesome everyday reality of the war in Vietnam affected everyone in the society. It is difficult today to try to explain to younger readers how deeply the issue of the war divided the country internally, or how it acted to continually tighten the vise of political differences around the neck of the majority of our citizens. In this sense, it is hard to overestimate the impact the war had on everyone living in the United States during the sixties and early seventies, and the narrative in this book emphasizes just how profound the action of a number of Vietnam veterans was in framing that impact.
Unlike those of us ex-servicemen who were already involved in the anti-war movement in our new identity as college undergraduate students, the organized Vietnam veteran movement against the war didn't really gain impetus until the very late sixties, and then only as a result of the frustration the vets experienced regarding the senseless continuation of obvious failed policies even after anyone with an intact brain could see it was leading us nowhere. The veterans only became involved as it became obvious something new had to be injected into the ongoing national debate regarding the progress of the war. Of course, once they did become seriously involved, the whole tenor of the debate changed profoundly. No one could counter the reality they alone had experienced, and the degree of authenticity they brought to the national forefront was undeniable.
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Format: Hardcover
Just finished all 626 pages of Gerald Nicosia's scrupulously-researched tome, Home to War. While I at first thought that it might be dense and difficult to read, I found that I couldn't put it down. And while I was reasonably certain that I was already familiar with the Big Picture, I discovered in Home to War a wealth of illuminating detail about how our government operates to suppress unpleasant and uncomfortable truths, as well as the people who put their very lives on the line to try to tell those truths...
I certainly can't swear that every statement on every page of Nicosia's book is true down to the minutest detail. Given human fallability, I would be extremely surprised if it was. At the same time, one does not need a PhD in American History, but only a modicum of life experience, to know how often and how predictably the American government and its "free-market" culture exploits its citizens' youth and strength in its service - sucking the very marrow from their bones in the process - and then hangs them out to dry, casting them on the scrapheap of discarded humanity when they become an inconvenience, a "burden" on society. We are not, of course, the only country in the world to do this, but the hypocrisy of it in light of our professed national ideals makes it doubly shameful.
My own experience in this regard arose not as a Viet Nam or "Operation Desert Storm" vet but as a disabled firefighter, yet it's exactly the same phenomenon. The importance of Nicosia's book is to make us aware of the recurring patterns of official government denial, mendacity, hypocrisy, and abandonment of its own citizens, not to "prove" whether or not certain dikes were bombed in a specified location in Viet Nam.
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