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FOUR DECADES ON: VIETNAM, THE UNITED STATES, AND THE LEGACIES OF THE SECOND INDOCHINA WAR

In Four Decades On, historians, anthropologists, and literary critics examine the legacies of the Second Indochina War, or what most Americans call the Vietnam War, nearly forty years after the United States finally left Vietnam. They address matters such as the daunting tasks facing the Vietnamese at the war’s end — including rebuildng a nation and consolidating a socialist revolution, while fending off China and the Khmer Rouge — and “the Vietnam syndrome,” the cynical, frustrated, and pessimistic sense that colored America’s views of the rest of the world after its humiliating defeat in Vietnam. The contributors provide unexpected perspectives on Agent Orange, the POW/MIA controversies, the commercial trade relationship between the U.S. and Vietnam, and representations of the war and its aftermath produced by artists, particularly writers. They show how the war has continued to affect not only international relations but also the everyday lives of millions of people around the world. Most of the contributors take up matters in the United States, Vietnam, or both nations, while several utilize transnational analytic frameworks, recognizing that the war’s legacies shape and are shaped by dynamics that transcend the two countries.

Contributors. Alex Bloom, Diane Niblack Fox, H. Bruce Franklin, Walter Hixson, Heonik Kwon, Scott Laderman, Mariam B. Lam, Ngo Vinh Long, Edwin A. Martini, Viet Thanh Nguyen, Christina Schwenkel, Charles Waugh

 

ENDORSEMENTS

Four Decades On meets the clear scholarly need for a volume that explores the aftermath of the Vietnam War in Vietnam and the United States. This strong collection of essays demonstrates that the war continued to shape critical dimensions of Vietnamese and American history after 1975 and that these postwar developments must be conceived in a transnational frame.”

Mark Philip Bradley, University of Chicago

Four Decades On is a most valuable collection of essays analyzing the legacies of the Second Indochina War from inside Vietnam and the United States and, in some essays, from broader transnational perspectives. Addressing film, literature, politics, memory, Agent Orange, the environment, trade, and reconciliation and its absence, this collection would make an excellent concluding assignment to any course on the Vietnam War.”

Marilyn B. Young, New York University

 

REVIEWS

“The editors rely upon a remarkable band of scholars to render the lasting memory of the conflict not only in the U.S. but, more importantly, in Vietnam. [...] The participating authors take readers on a journey long overdue: from the 'catfish wars’ to debunking the myth of American MIAs. Libraries seeking materials involving the history of memory will not go wrong by adding this excellent book to their collections. Highly recommended.”

C. C. Lovett, Choice

“Scott Laderman and Edwin Martini have edited an important collection of essays analyzing the ways in which Americans and Vietnamese have remembered the conflict. [...] Authored by respected scholars in the fields of history, anthropology, literature, Asian studies, English, and American studies, the individual chapters offer a fascinating diversity of approaches, rigorous research, and compelling arguments. [...] [T]his is a needed addition to the Vietnam War and postwar historiography, and hopefully scholars will use it as a starting point for deconstructing the conventional wisdom that has shaped the memory of the war and its aftermath for the past four decades.”

Heather Marie Stur, Journal of American Studies

“[T]hose seriously interested in plumbing where Vietnam is headed or where the United States has been will want to have it on a handy bookshelf.”

David Brown, Contemporary Southeast Asia

“This outstanding collection of eleven essays focuses on the legacies of the Vietnam wars in postwar America and Vietnam, with emphasis on the American choice of denial over closure, illustrating the aptness of Socrates' comment that it is worse to commit a crime than to be the victim of one. [...] Each of the [chapters] is a gem, for which the editors are to be congratulated.”

Moss Roberts, Pacific Affairs

Four Decades On is a rich collection that provides insight into the complex legacies of the Viet Nam War, which manifest themselves in local, national, and global contexts. The anthology reminds us of the need for multi-lingual, multi-shore, and interdisciplinary methodologies to more fully grapple with the meaning of war.”

Judy Tzu-Chun Wu, Journal of Military History

“Scholars of the Vietnam War, Vietnamese and Asian studies, the Cold War, and film will find cutting-edge analyses that are critical for staying abreast of historiographical and methodological develpments in their respective fields.”

Joshua Akers, H-War

“[E]ven to those who are familiar with the realities that there was 'A My Lai a Month’ and that the Gulf of Tonkin incident was utterly manufactured through botched intelligence reports, Four Decades On provides deep, updated analyses on a wide variety of topics that drive, in the end, toward the reconstruction of the narrative of the Second Indochina War through an emphasis on social history that brings new light to a troubling past.”

William Noseworthy, New Asia Books

“The richly contextualized and varied essays in this book go a long way towards addressing an imbalance in how the Vietnam War -- or the American War, depending on the perspective taken -- has been portrayed and represented, both in popular media and in scholarly texts. [...] It ... contributes considerably to studies of war and the challenges of reconciliation elsewhere.”

Jane Derges, Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute

 

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