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Vietnam Wall Resources

(Thanks to John Lennon for providing most of the annotations)

Find here a collection of article, book, film, and web resources not only relating to the Vietnam Memorial and the controversies but also some material on memorials in general, on the Vietnam War in general, and on some of the major players in the controversies: Jan Scruggs, Maya Lin, Tom Carhart, James Webb, and John Wheeler.

Abramson, Daniel. "Maya Lin and the 1960s: Monuments, Time Lines and Minimalism." Critical Inquiry 22 (1996): 679-709.
Analysis of three of Maya Lin's monuments—The Vietnam Wall, The Civil Rights Memorial, and The Woman's Table—with the focus on how history is presented as a chronological time line. While all three of her works are culturally distinct, the chronological format is unprecedented in monumental commemorative art.
The American Experience -- Vietnam Online. PBS. http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/amex/vietnam/index.html
An online companion to Vietnam: A Television History.
Amundson, Jhennifer A. "What's Behind the Wall: Why Progressive Public Memorials are Designed for Private Commemoration." Reflections (Spring 1995): 50-66.
A discussion of the change in the character/taste of contemporary designers, patrons and viewers of public memorials, and their early 19th century counterparts and the distinctive aspects of modern memorials. The VVM is praised for its progressiveness (there is a brief discussion of the Hart sculpture and the Vietnam Women's Memorial Project), and Amundsen specifically compares it with Segal's In Memory of May 4th, 1970: Abraham and Issac, and Lin's The Civil Rights Memorial.
Anderson, David L. The Columbia Guide to the Vietnam War. New York: Columbia UP, 2002.
Concise narrative; a section of encyclopedia-like entires of people, places, events; a chronology; and collections of resources. Very, very useful book.
Ashabranner, Brent. Always To Remember: The Story of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. New York: G.P. Putnam's Sons, 1988.
A pictorial and narrative history of the VVM; chapters outline the major events of the construction and dedication of the wall, specifically looking at Jan Scruggs and Maya Lin. While only an overview and written for a grammar school/high school level audience, it is a good first resource for the overall story of the Wall.
Atkinson, Rick. The Long Gray Line. Boston: Houghton Mifflin,1989. 449-80.
Sentimentalized look at how the VVM became a reality; a narrative reflection from the initial impulse of Scruggs to the final dedication with an emphasis on the personal lives of the men (the strain on marriages, the births of children) who were involved in the planning as well as the emotional responses to the wall and the controversy that ensued. Mostly neutral in the re-telling, it is a personal history of the building of the VVM. Also included is the fiery Carhart lambaste of the wall in which he calls it a "black gash of shame."
Auster, Albert, and Leonard Quart. How the War was Remembered: Hollywood and Vietnam. New York: Praeger, 1988.
Tracing Hollywood films about Vietnam from works done in the late 50's to the 80's and discussing the over-arching symbols, metaphors, and images within specific films, the book addresses concerns about the social, political, and cultural meaning of these films. Combining both formal film analysis and cultural history and wary of overly rigid typologies, the chapters range from general history of the films to certain main character tropes: wounded vets, supermen, hunter-heroes, and survivors, among others. Movies discussed include: Green Berets, The Deer Hunter, Apocalypse Now, The Killing Fields, China Gate, Platoon, Full Metal Jacket, Nam, Southern Comfort, and many others.
Barber, Bernard. "Place, Symbol, and Utilitarian Function in War Memorials." Social Forces 28 (1949): 64-68.
While not specifically on the VVM, this short article is a look at the functions of memorials in general. While memorials represent the values of a certain section of society, they may lose this meaning as time progresses. Analysis of the three interrelating functions of memorials: symbolic, aesthetic, and utilitarian.
Baritz, Loren. BackFire: A History of How American Culture Led Us Into Vietnam And Made Us Fight the Way We Did. New York: William Morrow and Company, Inc., 1985.
Separated into three parts: Tinder examines the central myths held sacred by U.S. mass culture that led to the involvement in the War; Fire discusses how domestic politics shaped foreign war decisions -- specifically looking at the men in power and the (possible) reasons that led them to make their decisions; Backfire concentrates on bureaucracy and its major role in forcing the country to become involved in Vietnam through its influence on the army officers and soldiers and the spread of this bureaucratic vision throughout everyday American life. A good cultural background to the War.
Bee, John D. "Eros and Thanatos: An Analysis of the Vietnam Memorial." Vietnam Images: War and Representation. Ed. Jeffrey Walsh and James Aulich. New York: St. Martin's, 1989. 196-204.
Focuses on the combat myth and those memorials that place these myths within a social and national context. When there is victory (military, ideological) Eros triumphs; when there is defeat, Thanatos wins. The VVM is squarely in the Thanatos camp of memorials: the memorial interprets the war and the experience of Vietnam on the side of death and the frustration of purpose. The Fredrick Hart addition/controversy, therefore, can be read as an attempt to look past the facts of death and pay tribute and legitimize the cause as well as celebrate national unity.
Berdahl, Daphne. "Mythical Realities at a National Shrine: The Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C." Kritische Berichte 3 (1996): 13-19.
Views the memorial as a mythical social space that allows for healing and redemption based on culturally specific notions of identity and emotion. The mythology as well as the healing power of the VVM exists because of the public nature of the performance -- the ritual story-telling of the veteran making her/his pilgrimage to the Wall. The ritual can involve both verbal and non-verbal expressions, and both are explored as a means for catharsis. ---. "Voices at the Wall: Discourses of Self, History and National Identity at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial." History and Memory 6 (1994): 88-124. While the VVM is a public place where private communions with the dead occur, there is a larger struggle for control of historical knowledge, representation, and public/private space, with the meaning of the memorial changing over the years, moving from an authentic, spontaneous, private mourning (as seen in the initial dedication) to a possibly (in)authentic, more scripted response to how to act at the wall (the ten year anniversary). There is now a mythology around the wall (the media coverage of the wall throughout the years has created it), and those visitors who enter the space of the VVM, enter, to an extent, this mythology.
Blair, Carole, Martha S. Jeppeson, and Enrico Pucci, Jr. "Public Memorializing in Postmodernity: The Vietnam Veterans Memorial as Prototype." Quarterly Journal of Speech 77 (1991): 263-88.
A look at the VVM as a prototype of post-modern architecture. After an initial discussion of modernist/post-modernist architecture, there is a discussion of the VVM as both the Wall and the Hart sculpture -- they cannot be separated and meaning is made in the relationship between the two monuments. The VVM is, therefore, inherently political; all readers of the text must actively question (the war, the wall, the names) and that is a thoroughly political gesture. The monument chronicles the sequence of death, the statue freezes a moment of life; readers must trace the conflict that arises between the two and create their own (personal) space in dealing with the experience as a whole.
Blum, Shirley Neilsen. "The National Vietnam War Memorial." Arts Magazine 59 (1987): 124-28.
A positive look at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. It is a detailed description of the physical wall itself, placing the Wall in the context of the Mall and the other major monuments located there.
Bodnar, John. Remaking America: Public Memory, Commemoration, and Patriotism in the Twentieth Century. Princeton: Princeton UP, 1991.
Brief discussion of the controversy surrounding the construction of the Wall with a focus on class as central to the argument. Jan Scruggs was a "grunt" who wanted to remember the dead soldiers of the war, while James Webb and Tom Carhart were graduates of service academies who wanted a symbol of national unity and glory. Was the purpose of the wall an expression of sorrow for fallen comrades, or should it be the embodiment of patriotism and nationalism? Also, contextualizes the VVM with other memorials and looks at this particular controversy as indicative of the larger battle for public memory: the vernacular culture that is produced by voices of the "ordinary" people vs. the cultural leaders who speak in the rhetoric of the nation state.
Broyles, William, Jr. "Why Men Love War." The Vietnam Reader . Ed. Walter Capps. New York: Routledge (1991): 68-81.
Wonderfully written and powerfully provocative, the essay explores the complex issues of war and shows that while men might hate war, they might also feel more free, aroused, and alive in war than in peace time. While most cannot admit it, war is an escape from the normal bonds of society -- a newfound space -- and that freedom is intoxicating: "Without war we could not know from what depths love rises, or what power it must have to overcome such evil and redeem us." The VVM is described as a "third act," a way for soldiers to write their own endings.
Brown, J. Carter. "The Mall and the Commission of Fine Arts." Studies in the History of Art 30 (1991): 249-61.
Brown, chairman of the Commission of Fine Arts, provides a thorough description of the work of the CFA after 1965 -- from the monuments themselves to the types of trees that line the Mall area. Also included is an insider's view of the controversy surrounding the Wall, indicating that Senator John Warner was responsible for the compromise without the Commission's involvement in his decision. Hart's sculpture was accepted by the Committee with much reservation, and a struggle was waged over where to place the statue. There is also a discussion of the proposed women's statue that the Commission was very much against.
Bunting, Eve. The Wall. New York: Clarion Books, 1990.
A children's story of a little boy and his father who have come to the Memorial in search of the boy's grandfather's name.
Buzzanco, Robert. Vietnam and the Transformation of American Life. Malden: Blackwell Publishers, 1999.
An examination of the role America played in the Vietnam War and the subsequent radicalization of the social and political life in the United States. In the first part of this book, there is a focus on the Vietnamese nationalist movement and the reason why the U.S. became first involved in the struggle, followed by a look at the escalation of the war in the Johnson and Nixon years, and, finally, a look at the subsequent defeat and withdrawal of U.S. troops. In Part Two, the focus is on youth (sub)cultural political and social movements of the 1960's and their large involvement in the politics of the day and their influence in the years after the war.
Capasso, Nicholas. "Constructing the Past: Contemporary Commemorative Sculpture." Sculpture 9 (1990): 56-63.
Examines the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in the context of contemporary public memorials in general and specifically the memorials in Washington D.C. area: Segal's In Memory of May 4th, 1970: Kent State - Abraham + Issac, Catalano's National Peace Garden, Speiregen's Maryland Vietnam Veterans Memorial, as well as the Aids Memorial Quilt. Issues concerning the complexities and the power structures of politics are discussed.
---. "Vietnam Veterans Memorial." The Critical Edge: Controversy in Recent American Architecture. Ed. Tod A. Marder. Cambridge: MIT Press, 1985.
An in-depth look at the actual design of the memorial and the controversy that surrounded the design and material. Well researched. Uses both professional and non-professional reactions to the VVM. Despite the controversy, the Memorial is a triumphant architectural success.
Capps, Walter, ed. The Vietnam Reader. New York: Routledge, 1991.
A collection of thirty-six essays under four major headings: "The Warrior's Testimony," "Lessons from the War," "Diversities of Experience," and "Symbolic Expressions, Ritual Healing." The essays were collected from theologians, veterans, diplomats, academics, and range from theoretical to practical. "Pilgrimage to the Wall," "The Memorial as Symbol and Agent of Healing," "Reunion," "In Tribute to Bill," "The Father I Hardly Knew," all deal with The Wall and the significance of trying to come to terms with loss.
Caputo, Philip. A Rumor of War. New York: Holt, Rinehart, and Winston, 1977.
A novel that the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund asked the design contest judges to read.
Carhart, Tom. Battlefront Vietnam: How the War Was Really Fought. New York: Warner Books, 1991.
An attempt to give a larger military perspective of the war by separating the military experiences from the roots and causes of the war and therefore arguing that even though the United States did not fulfill its political goals of the War, it did not lose the military war in Vietnam. Trying to ignore the politics of the war, the focus is on the actual battles, thereby understanding Vietnam solely in terms of military conquests. (This is a paperback reprint of Great Battles of the Vietnam War [Bison Books Corp., 1984] -- also entitled Battles and Campaigns in Vietnam 1954-1984. While these editions have many interesting photographs that are not included in Battlefront Vietnam, the paperback edition is the only one with an introduction by the author.)
---. Iron Soldiers: How America's 1st Armored Division Crushed Iraq's Elite Republican Guard. New York: Pocket Books, 1994.
A detailed account of the 1st Armored Division (at points an hour-by-hour account), written in the classical mode, that relies heavily on personal accounts of the men and women who fought in the Persian Gulf War. The soldiers recount their rigorous training and preparation in Germany for the war, while family members describe their fears and the problems that they faced.
---. The Offering. New York: William Morrow and Company, Inc., 1987.
An autobiography of his experience as a West Point graduate who volunteers for a tour of duty in Vietnam. Detailing his experiences as a platoon leader and the harsh decisions he had to make between the missions and the welfare of the men, the West Pointer's Code of Conduct is consistently challenged. Carhart calls into question his own actions in the war along with his fellow soldiers and attempts to explore the myths that brought him to Vietnam.
Carlson, A. Cheree, and John E. Hocking. "Strategies of Redemption at the Vietnam Veterans' Memorial." Western Journal of Speech Communication 52 (Summer 1988): 203-15.
A detailed look at the letters that were left at the wall between November '84 and April '86. The letters are seen as a ritual for self-therapy, and they locate some reasons why people would do this: guilt, penance, sacrifice, attempts to restore a heroic meaning to the war, among many others. Much like Ehrenhaus (see "Silence and Symbolic Expression"), the authors are attempting to understand this phenomena and to chart the progression and types of responses to the wall.
Charney, Wayne M. "Et in Arcadia Ego: The Place of Memorials in Contemporary America." Reflections 6 (1989): 86-95.
An in-depth look at the meaning of memorials in America's public life and memory, discussing specifically two contemporary and non-traditional memorials, both of which are understated and death-oriented -- Lin's Vietnam Veterans Memorial and Ian Taberner's May 4 Memorial (which was proposed but never realized).
China Beach. Written by William Broyles, Jr. and John Sacret Young. Perf. Dana Delany. 1988.
Made-for-tv movie focusing on women in Vietnam. Pilot for the television series.
Citizen Soldiers: The Story of the Vietnam Veterans Against the War. Dir. Denis Mueller, 1997.
Through interviews and footage from the 1960's to the present, this is the story of the Vietnam Veterans Against the War. While the film concentrates on a few major players, it does examine this movement from a wide variety of angles. Dir. (55 mins.)
Clark, Michael. "Remembering Vietnam." Cultural Critique 3 (1986): 46-78.
Clark focuses on the country's collective memory of the Vietnam War, looking specifically at how popular culture deals with the subject of the war in general and how this affects the way that people understand/remember Vietnam. Touching briefly on novels/autobiographies, the focus is on visual images: there is discussion of Murder She Wrote, Born Losers (starring Billy Jack!), Rolling Thunder, Sticks and Bones, The Lady From Yesterday, Rambo, among many others. Detailed discussion of Bobby Ann Mason's In Country and the meaning of the VVM to the characters (and those reading the book/watching the film).
Clymer, Kenton J., ed. The Vietnam War: Its History, Literature and Music. El Paso: Texas Western Press, 1998.
Collection of essays that deal with the central theme of the trauma that was caused by the war, both in Vietnam and the United States. This book is a result of a public symposium in El Paso that took place in March 1996. Chapters include three papers on the history of the war, two papers dealing with the role of American and Vietnamese women played in the war, and a paper dealing with the war and American popular music, as well as poems by Vietnam Veteran poets W. D. Ehrhart and John Balaban.
Dear America: Letters Home From Vietnam. Dir. Bill Couturie. HBO, 1987.
Documentary based on the book that printed letters from the soldiers and nurses who served in Vietnam. Read by more than thirty actors. Also uses home movies, news footage, and music of the period.
The Deer Hunter. Dir. Michael Cimino. Perf. Robert De Niro, Meryl Streep. Universal Pictures, 1978.
Winner of five Academy awards including Best Picture, this film follows a group of working class friends as they each deal individually and collectively with the Vietnam War. This is the film that inspired Jan Scruggs to begin a project that would eventually evolve into the VVM.
Dionisopoulos, George N., and Steven R. Goldzwig. "The Meaning of Vietnam": Political Rhetoric as Revisionist Cultural History." Quarterly Journal of Speech 78 (1992): 61-78.
A thorough examination of a speech given on April 25th, 1985, by the Secretary of State George P. Shultz, exploring how a politician can act as a cultural historian who reconstructs the past to make it politically "usable" to a particular governing body. Three main issues are discussed: 1) the revisionist who attempts to delegitimate a perceived view of history must justify and give reasons for reinterpreting the past, 2) the revisionist must establish an "opening scene" that will both offer a new perspective to history as well as undercut the perceived historical record, 3) the revisionist politician must also make the "new" history usable for contemporary political disputes, therefore allowing for an office to justify current agendas and policies.
Dittmar, Linda, and Gene Michaud, eds. From Hanoi to Hollywood: The Vietnam War in American Film. London: Rutgers UP, 1990.
Addressing the power of film to distort and destroy knowledge of history, this collection of essays deals with the relationship between reporting and imagining and reads against the grain many popular mainstream films about Vietnam. There are four main sections: the way film re-imagines history, theoretical examinations of the macho vietnam vet, the exoticized/subversive "other" in Vietnam movies, and documenting the war. Movies examined include Rambo, Missing in Action, Platoon, Night of the Living Dead, Dear America, among many others. Included is a well-documented chronology of events that occurred in the United States and Vietnam and the corresponding production time line of American films (fiction and documentaries) explicitly showing how history and representation are intimately intertwined. Also included is an exhaustive filmography of films dealing with the Vietnam War (including those produced outside the United States).
Dudley, William, ed. The Vietnam War: Opposing Viewpoints. California: Greenhaven Press, Inc., 1998.
Collection of essays that deal with opposite views of the war. Subjects range from Early Decisions to The Johnson Years to Vietnamization and Withdrawal to Protesters and Soldiers to A Debate over the Media's Role in Vietnam. A good resource for students learning the complicated issues and conflicting opinions of the War. Ehrenhaus, Peter. "Commemorating the Unwon War: On Not Remembering Vietnam." Journal of Communication 39.1 (1989): 96-107. A look at the political rhetoric that attempts to both remember and forget the Vietnam War; an analysis of how memorials privilege a certain type of history and how people -- as well as the U.S. government -- have tried to commemorate and/or forget the war using rhetoric to change the meaning of remembering. A close examination of the dedication of the Tomb of the Unknown for the Vietnam War as well as Gerald Ford's public discourse in the closing days of the war and how words and symbols attempts to write history.
---. "Silence and Symbolic Expression." Communication Monographs 55 (1988): 41-57.
A phenomenological perspective on silence and its relationship to war memorials. Memorials speak a certain perspective of history. This essay is an analysis of how people "hear" the silence of the VVM and its opportunity for a call of conscience. It locates four types of people who (mis)hear the wall's silence: tourists (he locates James Watt and Tom Carhart in this category), volunteers, mourners, and searchers. Attempting to show how they actively participate with the meaning of the VVM (with an attempt to find the "most" authentic responses to the wall), this is a call to all people who go to the wall to be responsible and to listen to the call of conscience.
---. "The Vietnam Veterans Memorial: An Invitation to Argument." Journal of the American Forensic Association 25 (1988): 54-64.
A theoretical argument that uses Narrative Theory to try to place the VVM within the context of memorials in general. Memorials restrict and narrow interpretations of past events and force a history upon all those who gaze upon them. The Wall, however, is different in that it rejects an institutional, established view of the world; rather, it encourages a personal reconstruction of the past and an interpretive response that is active rather than passive.
---. "The Wall." Critical Studies in Mass Communication 6.1 (1989): 94-98.
An attempt to gather together academic discussions and theories on the wall and its meaning, specifically looking at these critics: Hubbard, Griswold, Foss, Haines, Carlson and Hocking. Academic articles are mostly concerned whether the VVM is an anti-war memorial or a healing symbol and/or a discussion on not only what the memorial means but how it specifically relates to the people who make the pilgrimage to Washington D.C.
Ehrhart, W. D. To Those Who Have Gone Home Tired. New York: Thunder's Mouth Press, 1984.
Perhaps the foremost poet of this war.
Ellis, Caron Schwartz. "So old soldiers don't fade away: The Vietnam Veterans Memorial." Journal of American Culture 15.2 (1992): 25-30.
A narrative of a personal trip of the author to the Wall. It is an analysis of poppies (the flower) and the power of remembrance. Also a discussion of the history of Memorial Day itself and how people remember later wars, specifically looking at Desert Storm and the national reaction.
Ezell, Edward Clinton. Reflections on the Wall: The Vietnam Veterans Memorial. Stackpole Books, 1987.
A pictorial history of the Wall and its effects upon those who visit it. In the first section are four short forewords by Jan Scruggs (President of the Vietnam Veteran Memorial Fund), John P. Wheeler III (Chair of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund), William C. Westmoreland (former Commander of the U.S. forces in Vietnam), and James Quay (conscientious objector of the Vietnam War era and political activist), who all discuss the (various) meanings of the wall to them. The second chapter, "Ceremonies: Events and the Wall," deals with the different dedication ceremonies (specifically 1982 and 1984) at the Wall. The third, fourth, and fifth chapters (mostly told in photographs) deal with the impact of the Wall upon visitors (both veterans and non-service people), and the last chapter examines specifically with the Unknown Soldier dedication ceremony.
Fallows, James. "What Did You Do in the Class War, Daddy?" The Vietnam Reader. Ed. Walter Capps. New York: Routledge, 1991. 213-21.
Powerful personal essay that places class politics at the center of Vietnam War. Fallows describes his shame as a Harvard senior at losing weight in order not to be drafted, and he questions why the middle/upper classes evaded the war instead of vehemently protesting it and forcing its end more quickly. Uncovering a class hatred in this country and a willingness to sacrifice poorer citizens to save the lives of the more wealthy, Fallows is also accusatory of both the protest movement and the way the veterans were/are treated after the war.
Ferguson, Amanda. American Women of the Vietnam War. New York; Rosen, 2004.
"Six women explain what the Vietnam War was like for them personally: why they chose to go, what they experienced there, and how those experiences affected them." Includes biography of Diane Carlson Evans, founder of the Vietnam Women's Memorial Project.
Finkelpearl, Tom. "The Anti-Monumental Work of Maya Lin." Public Art Review 8 (1996): 5-9.
Important candid interview with Maya Lin in which she discusses her meaning behind the monument, her view of the controversy -- and the men who she feels forced the compromise -- and how racism/sexism played an integral part in the controversy over the Wall. Lin discusses the meaning of monuments, her influence, and her legacy.
Fish, Lydia. The Last Firebase: A Guide to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. Shippensburg: White Mane Publishing Co. Inc., 1987.
A quick introduction to the history of the building of the VVM (mostly avoiding the conflict). Also included are two poems --, "The Three of Us" and "The Last Firebase" -- as well as a statement concerning the statue by Fredrick Hart.
Foss, Sandra K. "Ambiguity as Persuasion: The Vietnam Veterans Memorial." Communication Quarterly 34.3 (1986): 326-40.
A brief look at the history of the construction of the wall but mainly a discussion of the (political) rhetoric of a visual image. The VVM violates the conventional form of war memorials, assumes a welcoming stance, provides little information to the visitor, focuses attention on those who died, and generates multiple referents for its visual components. The wall is an anti-war memorial and should be the new model for anti-war rhetoric.
Fox, Terrance M. "The Vietnam Veterans Memorial: Ideological Implications." Vietnam Images: War and Representation. Ed. Jeffrey Walsh and James Aulich. New York: St. Martin's, 1989. 211-20.
A personal reinterpretation of the memorial, contradicting his 1983 stance that believed that the Memorial was inconsistent with American Values. Mostly a discussion of the nature of the war itself and the feelings about the military in general by the country.
Franklin, Bruce. Vietnam and Other American Fantasies. Amherst: U of Massachusetts P, 2000.
A reinterpretation of the Vietnam War and an examination of how it still affects the present political decision-making policies of the U.S. as well as the collective popular imagination of the country. In "Star Trek and Kicking the Vietnam Syndrome" and "The Vietnam War as American Science Fiction and Fantasy," an interesting link between science fiction narratives and the Vietnam War narratives is established and examined.
Gandee, Charles. "The Other Side of Maya Lin." Vogue (April 1995): 346-53, 402-3.
Interview with Maya Lin that explores the sculptor's background, her fame, and the racism she faced during the controversy of the VVM. While not specifically about the Wall, Lin does speak about her work as a whole and what she tries to accomplish with her architecture and art.
Gans, Adrienne. "The War and Peace of the Vietnam Memorials." American Imago 44.4 (1988): 315-29.
A psychological and aesthetic analysis of both the VVM and the Fredrick Hart statue. The Hart piece is an idealistic and traditional American memorial. To understand the VVM, one has to read both memorials together. The two pieces are polar opposites and help explain the two responses to both the Vietnam War as well as the memorial.
Gilbert, Marc Jason, ed. The Vietnam War: Teaching Approaches and Resources. New York: Greenwood Press, 1991.
A teaching resource guide that seeks to identify and evaluate a variety of teaching approaches and resources for the Vietnam War. The fourteen essays are straight-forward and well labelled with internal headings such as "Classroom Approaches," "Gender Awareness," "Critical Sources, "A Course that worked," that allow the reader to focus on aspects of the essays that will be pertinent to her/him. Chapter titles include "An Approach to Teaching the Air War," "Teaching the Dynamics of the Conflict," "Novels about the 'Other' Side," "Using Primary Sources," and "The Role of Critical Thinking in a Course on the Vietnam War." There is also an Appendix with detailed course syllabi.
Great American Monuments: The War Memorials. The History Channel, 1994.
A documentary look at the Vietnam Memorial, Iwo Jima, Tomb of the Unknown, and so forth -- mentioning that "controversy and racism" almost stopped the VVM from being built.
Griswold, Charles L. "The Vietnam Veterans Memorial and the Washington Mall: Philosophical Thoughts on Political Iconography." Critical Inquiry 12 (1986): 688-719.
A philosophical reflection on the meaning of the VVM -- specifically, an attempt to understand the symbolism, social context, and the participatory nature of the monument itself. An examination of the monument within Washington's "Mall" area and, in a detailed reading, a comparison of the VVM with the Washington, Jefferson, and Lincoln Memorials as well as the Iwo Jima, the Seabees, the Hiker, the Grant, the Second Division, and the Navy-Marine war memorials. After placing the VVM in relational context to the other memorials in its immediate area, there is a focus on the memorial as a fundamentally interrogative monument that neither separates war and politics completely nor gives a set political interpretation of the war itself. While very briefly mentioning the controversy involved, this monument is understood as a healing, therapeutic, and living monument.
Haines, Harry W. "Disputing the Wreckage: Ideological Struggle at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial." Historical Memory and Representations of the Vietnam War. Ed. Walter L. Hixon. New York: Garland Publishing, Inc. 141-56.
The Wall is a site of ideological struggle that does not separate the politics from the war but rather forces the observer to come to grips (or at least question) the function (and toll) of the wall on its veterans, the impact of the war itself, and the very meaning and rationale of American deaths in war. The Wall itself refuses to allow history to be silenced; rather, it forces the viewer to actively participate in history.
---. "The Vietnam Veterans Memorial: Authority and Gender in Cultural Representation." Vietnam Images: War and Representation. Ed. Jeffrey Walsh and James Aulich. New York: St. Martin's, 1989. 205-10.
The VVM is a memorial that has feminine characteristics, establishing a safe non-threatening space that can nurture the person who participates with the Wall. The controversy can be located here: war memorials are usually masculine and idealistic while the VVM is feminine and acknowledges the injured body (represented by the individual names) and locates the meaning of the war in the individual casualities and their absence from the social networks of the nation.
---. "'What Kind of War?': An Analysis of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial." Critical Studies in Mass Communication 3.1 (1986): 1-20.
An analysis of the VVM as a demonstration of five phases in a process described as "sight sacrilization": naming, framing, enshrinement, mechanical reproduction, and social reproduction. The Memorial was built to be therapeutic, but there has been a revision of memory about what both the war and the Memorial means in an attempt to bring people together and forward American values and beliefs. The meaning of memorials can change over time and become propaganda for those in power.
Harrison, Robert Pogue. "The Names of the Dead." Critical Inquiry 24 (1997): 176-90.
The first part of this essay is a discussion of Homer and Dante and the notion of an Epic. The second (and shorter) part deals with the Wall and a refusal to honor those who died in the Vietnam War. Rather, the Memorial is a counter-symbol whose purpose is not to bury the dead nor to mourn them but to mark each individual as a mortal who has died.
Hass, Kristin Ann. Carried to the Wall: American Memory and the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. Berkeley: U of California P, 1998.
The first section is an overview of the controversy over the Wall and the Hart sculpture with also a mention of the 1993 addition of the Vietnam Women's Memorial. The second part deals with a description of the collection of articles that are left daily at the base of the wall by visitors and attempts to understand why people would leave these items, discussing these artifacts within the context of the study of Material Culture.
Hearts and Minds. Dir. Peter Davis. Touchstone Pictures, 1974.
A documentary that not only explores the events of the Vietnam War but specifically examines how attitudes of American racism and self-righteous militarism helped to create and extend the conflict. Includes interviews with General William Westmoreland, former Secretary of Defense Clark Clifford, Senator William Fulbright, Walt Rostow, and Daniel Ellsberg, with footage of Presidents Truman, Kennedy, Johnson, and Nixon. Winner of the Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature.
Hess, Elizabeth. "Vietnam: Memorials of Misfortune." Unwinding the Vietnam War: From War into Peace. Ed. Reese Williams. Seattle: Real Comet Press, 1987. 262-80.
A look at the "competing" monuments—Maya Lin's and Fredrick Hart's—as well as a detailed report of the controversy surrounding the VVM (a large section discusses the involvement of Ross Perot in the proceedings). An understanding of the two monuments -- one abstract, the other realistic -- as antithetical to each other, and therefore the placement of the monuments in close proximity polarizes and politicizes them in a way that is in conflict with the VVMF's initial desire for a monument "without political content." There is also a transcript of a 1983 interview with Maya Lin in which she speaks directly of the Fredrick Hart piece.
Hight, Eleanor M. "Maya Lin Reconsidered." Design Book 40 (Fall 1999): 40-44.
Reviews a film about Lin and two of her exhibitions.
Hixson, Walter L., ed. Historical Memory and Representations of the Vietnam War. New York: Garland Publishing, Inc., 2000.
Collection of seventeen essays dealing with cultural representations and historical memory of the Vietnam War. All the articles deal in some way with how the War was/is remembered: the Wall and the debate it caused on how veterans should be remembered; gender and the way women veterans were often excluded from national remembering; the "whiteness" involved in remembering the veterans; the way veterans are portrayed in mass media generally and television specifically. The articles are theoretical and well documented.
Hubbard, William. "A Meaning for Monuments." Public Interest 74 (1984): 17-30.
A theoretical piece in which the VVM is placed in the context of iconography and a discussion on how to read these symbols, focusing on the difference between reading icons and reading books—the former deal with emotions, the latter with words. The VVM is inarticulate -- it does not relay an institutional response to war or national ideals, rather it elicits a personal, emotional response.
Huyssen Andreas. "Monument and Memory in a Postmodern Age." The Yale Journal of Criticism 6.2 (1993): 249-61.
While not mentioning the VVM specifically, this theoretical article shows how a society's collective memory is a malleable form constantly changed by the culture's beliefs, values, rituals, and monuments. In an age of post-modern amnesia, where the self-memorialization (through home movies, personal memoirs, internet confessionals, etc) is a key part of culture, public memorials take on a different shape and role in the society. In an information-laden society, the material object itself -- the memorial -- takes on a newfound strength that post-modern technologies cannot duplicate.
Hyde, Richard. "Binding the Nation's Wounds: The Vietnam Veterans' Memorial." Legacies of Vietnam 5.1 (2000): 138-43.
"The American people had been confident conquerors of every frontier we'd ever encountered, and then suddenly we hit the wall of our limitations. Symbolically, the appropriate memorial for this failed enterprise is a wall at the western end of our national capital."
Imaginative Representations of the Viet Nam War. LaSalle College. http://www.lasalle.edu/library/vietnam/viet.htm
Extremely valuable library collection.
Isaacs, Arnold R. "The Wall." Vietnam Shadows: The War, Its Ghosts, and Its Legacy. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins UP, 1997.
A short introduction to the building of the Wall as a backdrop to a personal attempt by Isaacs to come to grips with the War itself. He compares it to World War II (his father's war) and decides that the Vietnam War was insanity and acknowledges that the War split the country apart.
Karnow, Stanley. Vietnam: A History. New York: Viking Press, 1983.
A large, detailed history of the Vietnam War. While concentrating primarily on the American intervention, it is also a panoramic account of the conflict, placing the war within a historical basis that explains how the war started long before the first American landed in Danang in March of 1965. Chapters two and three discuss the nationalism of the Vietnam people and their internal conflicts, chapters four and five deal mainly with the French involvement, and the remainder of the chapters deal principally with the American involvement. A very useful chronology and "Cast of Principal Characters" is also supplied.
Katakis, Michael. The Vietnam Veterans Memorial. New York: Crown, 1988.
Photographs of grieving visitors at the VVM with their comments as captions.
Jason, Philip K. "Teaching the Literature of the War; or Teaching the War through Literature." Acts and Shadows: The Vietnam War in American Literary Culture. Lanham: Rowman and Littlefield Publishers, Inc., 2000.
Splitting this essay into two sections and giving course outlines for each, the chapter shows the difference between teaching the literature of the war (and thus using literary analysis to look at the texts) and teaching the war through literature (the teacher's political agenda, despite claims of objectivity, will fully be on display through the choices made). Great bibliographical resource for books on the Vietnam War.
Kelly, Michael. "Public Art Controversy: The Serra and Lin Cases." Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism 54.1 (1996): 15-22.
A comparison between Serra's sculpture Titled Arc and Lin's Vietnam Veterans Memorial. While both were controversial and raised questions about the role of art in the public space, Serra placed art first and people second, whereas Lin allowed her piece to elicit debate and dialogue. The VVM is public art and an integral part of the Memorial is that it is an interaction between the site itself and the viewer's personal response to it.
Kerrey, Bob. When I Was a Young Man: A Memoir. New York: Harcourt, 2002.
Recent charges that Senator and college president Kerrey killed civilians in Vietnam opened the old sores of the Vietnam War once again. Kerrey was grilled on national television by Dan Rather for 60 Minutes. The controversy over this war that exploded over the memorial still lives.
Kinney, Katherine. Friendly Fire: American Images of the Vietnam War. Oxford: Oxford UP, 2000.
Examination of the image/myth of Americans solely defeating themselves in Vietnam; the United States did not lose to the Vietnamese but was its own agent of its demise. The five essays ranging from John Wayne to the assignation of Martin Luther King to the ideological struggle between white/black men and black/white women deal with the literal and symbolic scenes of friendly fire -- it questions and contextualizes the many different images that were generated in relation to the War.
---. "Humping the Boonies: Women and the Memory of War." Friendly Fire: American Images of the Vietnam War. Oxford: Oxford UP, 2000. 142-85.
"In this chapter I want to reopen the association forged in and around 1970 between gender and war, women's liberation and Vietnam, and trace the contours of its obscured memory in the literature of the war."
Krohn, Frederick. "Vietnam Veterans' Memorial: Universal Symbolism." ETC: A Review of General Semantics 50.2 (1993): 165-67.
"The monument differs from others in its simplicity, but its symbolism depends on the perception of its visitors who either honor or grieve for their dead compatriots."
Lachin, Teresa B. "'War and remembrance,': The War Memorial as Cultural Artifact." PhD. diss. U of Maryland at College Park, 1993.
An examination of five Vietnam memorials built in the Washington area between 1982-89 and a detailed analysis of the process and complications that these projects underwent to become dedicated for public memorializing. The five memorials analyzed are: 1) National Vietnam Veterans Memorial (dedicated Nov. 1982), 2) Maryland Vietnam Veterans Memorial (dedicated May 1989), 3) Prince George's County Vietnam Veterans Memorial (dedication not scheduled), 4) Bladensburg-Borea Vietnam Veterans Memorial (dedicated July 4, 1983), 4) Gaithersburg Vietnam Veterans Memorial (dedicated April 1988).
Lawson, Jacqueline, ed. "Gender and the War: Men, Women and Vietnam." Vietnam Generation 1, no. 3-4 (Summer-Fall 1989).
Collection of twenty wide-ranging essays that seeks to show that war is the property of both men and women. Topics of the essays include: recent Vietnam-inspired fiction by women, the effect of masculinism on the history of the War, recent focus in feminist scholarship on gender and war, post-war trauma on female veterans, the popularity of paramilitarism, the impact of the women's peace movement. Also a valuable "Bibliography of Unusual Sources on Women and the Vietnam War" is included.
Lembcke, Jerry. The Spitting Image: Myth, Memory, and the Legacy of Vietnam. New York: New York UP, 1998.
Debunking the myth of the spat-upon returning Vietnam vet, the main discussion is on the political reasons for creating myths and how images are manipulated and remembered to justify contemporary actions and policies (proponents of the Gulf War held up this image of the spat upon Vet to rally Americans -- and defuse anti-war protests -- behind the soldiers). Tom Carhart, who said that he was spat upon when he returned to the U.S., used this image in his speeches when he adamantly opposed the design of the Wall by Maya Lin.
Lifton, Robert Jay. Home From the War: Vietnam Veterans: Neither Victims nor Executioners. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1973.
Written by a psychiatrist who talked to over 400 veterans, the central theme is that of "death and rebirth, suffering and realization" that questions the mythology of war and warrior-heroes. Extensive interviews and "rap groups" show the transformations of some of the veterans in their beliefs about the war, the United States, and themselves. This book and author influenced Jan Scruggs greatly.
Lin, Maya. Boundaries. New York: Simon and Schuster, 2000.
"Understandably, Lin writes in greatest detail about the Vietnam memorial, a high-profile commission fraught with controversy because of its unusual form as well as the age, gender, and ethnicity of its American-born architect. But this engrossing, amply illustrated book also details the thinking and experimentation behind myriad other projects, including elemental sculptures, interiors, and furniture designed with an unusual degree of consideration for the user's needs."
---. "Making the Memorial." New York Review of Books 2 November, 2000: 33-35.
"It's taken me years to be able to discuss the making of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, partly because I needed to move past it and partly because I had forgotten the process of getting it built. I would not discuss the controversy surrounding its construction and it wasn't until I saw the documentary Maya Lin: A Strong Clear Vision that I was able to remember that time in my life. But I wrote the body of this essay just as the memorial was being completed -- in the fall of 1982. Then I put it away...until now."
Lind, Michael. "The Rise of Misguided Memorials." New Leader 7 September 1998: 10-12.
An attack on the VVM, deeming the memorial as anti-veterans and built for the academic, "draft-dodging" classes. The Memorial is an insult because it is too original—public memorials need to be classical: timeless and simple and based in history. Maya Lin's memorial is an "anachronistic monument to '70's artistic minimalism, as well as to 70's antimilitary Leftism" that will lose meaning in time and will be misunderstood by future generations.
Loewen, James W. "Down the Memory Hole." Lies My Teacher Told Me: Everything Your American History Textbook Got Wrong. New York: The New Press, 1995. 233-47.
Lambasting history textbooks with their misinformation and conservative leanings, the book includes ten chapters of stories of American History that dually allow students to be more proactive with history while explaining how current textbooks create a distorted and "boring" vision of the United States past. "Down the Memory Hole" discusses what textbooks include and, more importantly, do not include, when dealing with the subject of the Vietnam War.
Lopes, Sal. The Wall: Images and Offerings from the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. New York: Collins, 1987.
Photographs of visitors to the wall annotated with some of their comments.
Marling, Karal Ann, and Robert Silberman. "The Statue Near the Wall: The Vietnam Veterans Memorial and the Art of Remembering." Smithsonian Studies in American Art 1.1 (1987): 5-29.
The first part of this essay looks at The Deer Hunter in the context of other war movies and the contradictory responses to film representations of the Vietnam War. The second part is a report of the controversy in general and specifically the compromise of including the Hart sculpture. There is an in-depth look at the actual designing of the Hart piece and a reading of the two memorials as one set piece.
Marling, Karal Ann, and John Wetenhall. "The Sexual Politics of Memory: The Vietnam Women's Memorial Project and The Wall." Prospects 14 (1989): 341-72.
An enormous resource dealing with the Women's Memorial. Both theoretical and factual, an examination of the evolution of the Memorial, looking not only at the controversy over the building the Memorial but also at the lack of acknowledgement of the women who participated in the war itself. Using both personal narratives, pop culture movies/tv shows and testimony from the people actually involved in the making of the monument, the authors raise questions of gender in the act of remembering.
Mason, Bobbie Ann. In Country. New York: Harper & Row, 1985.
In this novel Sam, a 17 year-old-girl, is obsessed with the Vietnam War and the effect it has had on her life, losing a father she never knew and now living with Uncle Emmett, who seems to be suffering from the effects of Agent Orange. Her father's diary finally provides the insight she seeks, insight she cannot accept until she has visited the Vietnam War Memorial. Also made into a 1989 movie starring Bruce Willis and Emily Lloyd.
Maya Lin -- A Strong Clear Vision. Dir. Freida Lee Mock. Ocean Releasing, 1994.
Winner of the Best Feature Documentary Academy Award, the film is in-depth look at the artist/architect/sculptor and the controversy involved with her designing the Vietnam Memorial as well with her involvement with the Civil Rights Memorial, the Yale Women's Table, and the Juniata Peace Chapel.
Mayo, James M. "Monuments to Defeat." War Memorials as Political Landscape: The American Experience and Beyond. New York: Praeger, 1988.
This chapter is a look at three wars that the U.S. did not "win" -- The Civil War, The Korean War and the Vietnam War — and the different type of memorials that were erected to remember the dead. The section on the Civil War, the largest section, is an overview of how the South and the North have memorialized the fallen in both distinct and similar ways (while both sides tend to convey communal guilt, the North's memorials emphasize victory and the South emphasizes honor). The section on the Korean War explains how this particular war is a "forgotten war" (while the war was memorialized in Washington D.C. and in Korea, not many memorials were erected in American communities) and the memorials that are built are usually added to those commemorating WWII. The third and final section on The Vietnam War and specifically on the Wall, while basic, does give a brief overview of the controversy surrounding the memorial. There is also a discussion on other Vietnam memorials, specifically the ones located in New Mexico, Missouri, and New York City.
McCloud, Bill. "What Should We Tell Our Children about Vietnam?" American Heritage May/June 1988.
McCloud is an Oklahoma high school teacher who sent a note asking this question to men and women who were prominently involved in the Vietnam War. While the VVM is not mentioned at all, this is an interesting source on how there are many (conflicting) views on how people think the war should be remembered.
McLeod, Mary. "The Battle for the Monument: The Vietnam Veterans Memorial." The Experimental Tradition: Essays on Competitions in Architecture. Ed. Helene Lipstadt. New York: Princeton Architectural Press, 1989.
While there is mention in this piece about both the general history of war memorials in the United States as well as the controversy surrounding the VVM, it is an in-depth and well-documented discussion of the design competition itself.
Mithers, Carol Lynn. "Missing in Action: Women Warriors in Vietnam." The Vietnam War and American Culture. Ed. John Carlos Rowe and Rick Berg. New York: Columbia UP, 1991. 75-91.
"One important group of stories [remains] untold. Virtually all Vietnam memoirs and novels were written by men. All war analyses and studies were written about men. But men were not the only ones who went to war."
Morris, Richard. "The Vietnam Veterans Memorial and the Myth of Superiority." Cultural Legacies of Vietnam: Uses of the Past in the Present. Ed. Richard Morris and Peter Ehrenhaus. Norwood: Ablex, 1990. 199-222.
An informative and expansive article that looks at the controversy of the VVM as having resulted from an overall cultural debate on the way a country should memorialize. After a discussion on how/why a country has monuments, there is a look at two traditions of memorials: the romantic (nature) and the heroic (power). The debate that was formed over the VVM (which is neither romantic nor heroic) was not only a debate on Vietnam but also a debate over the cultural legacies of the myth of superiority.
Morris, Richard, and Peter Ehrenhaus. "Forms of Remembering, Forms of Forgetting." Cultural Legacies of Vietnam: Uses of the Past in the Present. Ed. Richard Morris and Peter Ehrenhaus. Norwood: Ablex, 1990. 223-28.
An epilogue to a collection of essays that seeks to understand the idea of cultural memory in connection to the Vietnam Wall. Through their research, they have found that the word "legacy" is insufficient when discussing the Vietnam War and that there are some substantial (political) consequences of preserving the past through cultural memory by using memorials.
No Time for Tears -- Vietnam: The Women Who Served. Dir. Elizabeth Bouiss. 1993.
Not seen. http://www.buyindies.com/listings/2/2/FCTS-22484.html
Palmer, Laura. Shrapnel in the Heart: Letters and Remembrances from the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. New York: Vintage, 1987.
Palmer (who was a reporter in Saigon when it fell) after reading letters in the Museum and Archeological Regional Storage facility, spent 1986 traveling and interviewing some of the people who left mementoes at the VVM. It is an attempt to "break the silence" and allow those who left personal messages at the Wall to speak of their loss. Two interesting notes: during her research, she did not encounter one letter that was written from a father to a son and she only was able to find one person of color who left a letter at the Wall.
Piehler, G. Kurt. Remembering War the American Way. Washington: Smithsonian Institution Press, 1995.
Arguing that the "American national identity remains inexorably intertwined with the commemoration and memory of past wars," this book explores the power of the federal government and its attempts to force a vision of nationalism. As the power of the local governments dwindled after the early national and antebellum periods and the federal government grew in strength, national monuments fostered a pattern of remembrance that often ignored issues of class, ethnicity, region and race. Chapters mark this transfer of power between local and federal governments, specifically looking at the Civil War, World War I, and World War II. Chapter five "From the Korean War to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial" deals briefly with the controversy surrounding the Wall, placing the issue in context of the Korean War. The Introduction also deals specifically with the Wall and its importance.
Powell, Larry. Hunger of the Heart: Communion at the Wall. Dubuque: Islewest Publishing, 1995.
Photographs of people visiting the wall and photographs of things left at the wall, accompanied by text from visitors, document the grief of those who survived.
Rowe, John Carlos, and Rick Berg. The Vietnam War and American Culture. New York: Columbia UP, 1991.
Collection of essays that offers a reinterpretation of many aspects of the war. Chapters include Chomsky's "Visions of Righteousness," Mither's "Missing in Action: Women Warriors in Vietnam," Berg's "Losing Vietnam: Covering the War in an Age of Technology," and Jeffords "Tattoos, Scars, Diaries and Writing Masculinity." Michael Clark's "Remembering Vietnam" looks at the VVM and other memorials (as well as films and television show) and examines how a nation and individuals remember and memorialize the War.
Santoli, Al, ed. Everything We Had: An Oral History of the Vietnam War by Thirty-Three American Soldiers Who Fought It. New York: Random House, 1981.
Allowing thirty-three Vietnam Veterans to tell their stories in their own words, this collection of oral histories is an attempt on the veterans part to allow readers to "see what we saw . . . feel what we felt." The stories are graphic and powerful; the emotions range from mournful to angry while the veteran tries to express her/his experience and how they have dealt with the war since they returned to the United States. This book raises some interesting debates on definitions of History: do memories count as History? If the "facts" in the individual stories are contradictory, does it make the history any less authentic?
Schreiner, Olive. "Woman and War." Women's Voices: Visions and Perspectives. Ed. Pat C. Hoy, Esther H. Schor, and Robert DiYanni. New York: McGraw-Hill, 1990: 457-64.
Theoretical discussion of the sexual divisions of labor and, as modern society has moved from subsistence level to technological advancement, these divisions have changed; physical power is no longer as needed and society (in more technologically advanced states) therefore has changed as the role of women has changed. As far as the connection to war in general, women's relation to war has always been intimate with their labor producing "the primal munition of war." Since war has become "advanced" and skill is needed to use weapons that kill from long range (and physical strength is not as important), women can take a prominent role in war; however, since it is through a woman's body and the function of birth that soldiers are produced, there will be a more strong condemnation of war and the instincts of the female will force a refusal for the reckless destruction and insanity of war.
Scott, Grant. "Meditations in Black: The Vietnam Veterans Memorial." Journal of American Culture 13.3 (1990): 37-40.
An attempt to show that the experience of visiting the VVM is a disruption in time itself and is comparable with mythical journeys to the underworld where the living are able to communicate briefly with the dead. The VVM is a text, and while read, it is also written upon. Not only do visitors rub names off the wall, they also leave things; the memorial therefore makes the viewer into an active seeker that prompts the person out of passivity.
Scruggs, Jan C., and Joel L. Swerdlow. To Heal a Nation: The Vietnam Veterans Memorial. New York: Harper, 1985.
"The" official story of the project to build the wall by the creator. Also made into a 1988 movie starring Eric Roberts -- a fictionalized, sentimentalized account of Jan Scruggs' journey to make the Vietnam Memorial a reality.
Shafer, D. Michael, ed. The Legacy: The Vietnam War in the American Imagination. Boston: Beacon Press,1990.
A collection of fourteen essays on the U.S. involvement in Indochina, with emphasis on race, gender, ideology, and the power of remembering. The essays cover a great deal, including feminism and the war, civil rights/the protest movement and the war, historical groundwork and the war and its influence in political thought, oral histories and the process of remembering, the press and the war, and contemporary film representations.
Smith, Levi P. "Objects of Remembrance: The Vietnam Veterans Memorial and the Memory of the War." Diss. U of Chicago, 1997.
Well researched and informative (a 760-page dissertation!!), the first part examines how the memory of the Vietnam War was represented in memorials, cultural productions and commemorations before the VVM, while the second part deals with the controversy and process of reception of Maya Lin's design and the consequential fight for meaning the memorial has come to represent.
Soldiers in Hiding. Dir. Malcolm Clarke. HBO, 1985.
A disturbing film that focuses on Vietnam Veterans who, unable to cope with the effects of the War on their lives, live in secluded areas of American wilderness surviving on skills that they learned in the army. While the film shows the uniqueness of each veteran, the feeling of helplessness on the soldier's part is a common trait that is apparent: these men are in a lot of pain and Clarke allows them to attempt to voice their feelings that they are unable to fully articulate. This documentary was nominated for Best Feature Documentary and Clarke won the International Documentary Association Award for best director in 1986.
Spencer, Duncan, and Lloyd Wolf. Facing the Wall: Americans at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. New York: Macmillan, 1986.
First-person stories by two dozen or so visitors to the wall accompanied by photographs of them.
The Story of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial: The Last Landing Zone. All American Video, 1994.
Documentary narrated by Rocky Bleier, football star and Vietnam veteran.
Sturken, Marita. "The Wall, the Screen, and the Image: The Vietnam Veterans Memorial." Representations 35 (1991): 118-42.
A comprehensive and well documented article that deals both concretely with the "facts" of the building of the VVM as well as theorizing about the politics of remembering the war through this memorial. After a well researched discussion of the memorial (specifically looking at gender politics between Hart and Lin), there is a shorter discussion on the construction of history and the politics of "owning" the past and, therefore, the ability to re-create it. Questions concerning race, gender and class are central to understanding this controversy.
Tal, Kali. "Between the Lines: Reading the Vietnam War." Worlds of Hurt: Reading the Literature of Trauma. Boston: Cambridge UP, 1996.
An analysis of the literature of the Vietnam War and the way critics have separated the literature into the "symbolic" and the "reality-based texts." Since this is difficult, literary critics have collapsed time and space and have given the same authority to both texts. Fearing that this leads to ahistorical analysis, Tal believes that the Vietnam War must be viewed in its context and their must be an active search on the part of the reader to follow the way that an author constructs her/his meaning. The Vietnam War was not an act of imagination, it took place on both a physical and symbolic level; both issues must be traced and explored within the texts.
Tatum, James. "Memorials of the American War in Vietnam." Critical Inquiry 22.4 (1996): 634-78.
Maya Lin's memorial has limits because it only commemorates American soldiers who died or are M.I.A. and does not commemorate either ALL those who died in the war nor the South Vietnamese soldiers/supporters who died in the war. There is a description of Chris Burden's proposed memorial The Other Vietnam Memorial that would honor all of the dead (including the 3 million Vietnamese that were killed) and a look at the memorials that have been built or are planned to be built in Vietnam, comparing how Vietnamese memorials are celebrations to a victory compared to the VVM which was meant to help heal a nation.
Tauber, Peter. "Monument Maker." New York Times Magazine 2 February, 1991: 48-55.
Essay on / interview with Maya Lin.
Their Own Vietnam. Dir. Nancy Kates. Women Make Movies, 1995.
"A fascinating documentary about American women who served in the Vietnam War. Spirited interviews with five veterans are intercut with rare archival images and home movies to explore the day-to-day experiences of these women as nurses and officers, as well as the war's impact on their lives today. Official Army depictions of Vietnam as an exciting career opportunity for women are contrasted with the women's personal feelings about the war, and reports of their own battles within a mostly male work environment."
Timberg, Robert. The Nightingale's Song. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1995. 306-17.
"Scorpions in a Jar" (a metaphor used by James Webb to describe how he felt about his participation with the other major players in the VVM controversy) is a narrative of the building of the VVM concentrating specifically on Webb, John Wheeler, and Jan Scruggs and their (hostile) relationship to each other. Wheeler is seen as a political opportunist and Webb (who forced the adoption of the Hart statue) as the person who embodied the veterans' opinions and sentiments.
To Heal a Nation. Dir. Michael Pressman. Perf. Eric Roberts, Glynnis O'Connor. Orion Pictures, 1988.
Made-for-television movie chronicling Jan Scruggs' drive to build the memorial.
Turner, Fred. "Healing as History: The Vietnam Veterans Memorial." Echoes of Combat: The Vietnam War in American Memory. New York: Anchor Books, 1996. 167-84.
Chapter 8 is a general overview of the VVM that deals with the pre-history, the contest, the controversy, and the range of emotional responses to the actual structure. It is also a look at the healing process that (some) soldiers feel when they participate in private rituals of remembrance and recovery in a very public display.
Van Devanter, Lynda. Home Before Morning: The Story of an Army Nurse in Vietnam. Amherst: U of Massachusetts P, 2001.
"An awesome, painfully honest look at war through a woman's eyes. Her letters home and startling images of life in a combat zone --surgeons fighting to save a Vietnamese baby wounded in utero, the ever-present stench of napalm-charred flesh, a beloved priest's gentle humor and appalling death, the casual heroism of her colleagues, a Vietnamese 'Papa-san' trying to talk his dead child back to life, a haunting snapshot dropped by a dying soldier with no face -- tell the story of a young American's rude initiation to the best and the worst of humanity."
Vietnam Memorial. Frontline. PBS, 1983.
Documentary about the five-day celebration in Washington in November of 1982, when the Memorial "opened."
Vietnam Requiem. Dir. Bill Couturié and Jonas McCord. 1982.
Documentary containing separate prison interviews with five men who had been decorated for valor for their actions in Vietnam and who are now serving out sentences for crimes they committed since their release from the military. Focuses primarily on Albert Dobbs, with interviews of his family and a fellow soldier discussing him and the change that he underwent because of the war and the disillusionment of his homecoming.
The Virtual Wall. Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund. http://www.thevirtualwall.org/
The next best thing to being there! You can "see" the wall, search for names, leave remembrances. See also the "Echoes from the Wall" section for educational materials.
Wagner-Pacifici, Robin, and Barry Schwartz. "The Vietnam Veterans Memorial: Commemorating a Difficult Past." American Journal of Sociology 97.2 (1991): 376-420.
"This article on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial deals with the way society assimilates past events that are less than glorious and whose memory induces controversy instead of consensus."
Walker, Keith. A Piece of My Heart: The Stories of 26 American Women Who Served in Vietnam. Novato: Presidio Press, 1985.
"Despite sexual harassment, ambiguous feelings about the Vietnamese and traumatic combat-zone experiences, the women whose voices are heard here recall their wartime service in a generally positive light. Most of them were military nurses and WACs, but there are also Red Cross and USO volunteers, as well as a civilian flight attendant and a radio personality."
The Wall That Heals. Simitar Entertainment, 1997.
15th anniversary documentary authorized by the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund.
Walsh, Jeffrey, and James Aulich, eds. Vietnam Images: War and Representation. New York: St. Martin's Press, 1989.
Collection of essays that demonstrate the relationship between popular images of the Vietnam War and ideological values; any attempt to understand the war must include the wide variety of images (and thus meaning) that were/are produced about the conflict. The essays are interdisciplinary and cover a wide spectrum of topics ranging from "Black Music and the Vietnam War" to "New Images of Vietnam in American Comic Books." Chapter 16, "The Vietnam Veterans Memorial: Ideological Implications" by Terrance Fox argues that the Wall is not about individual heroic actions but symbolizes how the public and the military view its bureaucratic and collective values.
Waterman, Rod. "Art is a Battlefield: The Taste Wars and the Vietnam Veterans Memorials in Washington, D.C." Chapter 4 of "The American Monument and its Audience." Diss. U of Virginia, 2002.
"Just as the Vietnam War was protracted, contentious, and enervating, so have been attempts to commenorate it. Instead of one monumental structure to commemorate the event, we have four. . . . The struggle to achieve this act of memory raises several important issues which advance and complicate our discussion of the role of citizenry in the act of collective public memory."
Webb, James. Fields of Fire. Maryland: Naval Institute Press, 2000.
A classic novel of the Vietnam War based on his personal experience, a man who was involved with developing -- and then criticized -- the planning and fund raising of the Vietnam Wall. Compared to Mailer's Naked and the Dead (Portland Oregonian) and hailed as "the finest of Vietnam novels" by Tom Wolfe, it is the story of a Marine Platoon Commander and his repulsion as well as attraction to the War and his dealing with his men who come from varied socio-economic and racial backgrounds.
Wheeler, John. Touched with Fire: The Future of the Vietnam Generation. New York: Franklin Watts, 1984.
"The future is what matters. . . . This book attempts to offer a coherent picture of where we have been and are now, and, more importantly, the paths we can choose to go in our life together as a generation of Americans."
Williams, Reese, ed.. Unwinding the Vietnam War: From War Into Peace. Seattle: The Real Comet Press, 1987.
Collection of essays from veterans, refugees, peace activists, focusing on giving voice to those who were involved in the war in order to allow the memory of Vietnam to be shaped by those who were most affected by it and not by the government who lied/lies to the public. The VVM is cited as the first step that stopped a decade of avoidance of a discussion of the war and slowly allowed the veterans to have a space to express themselves and to be heard. Swain's "Brothers in Arms: The Death of the Antiwar Veteran" claims that not all those who died because of the war have their names on the Wall, Wolf's "Women and Vietnam: Remembering in the 1980's" discusses the Vietnam Women's Memorial Project, Hess's "Vietnam: Memorial of Misfortune" deals with the controversy of the Wall, and Carter's "To Embody Peace: The Building of Peace Pagodas Around the World" discusses other types of memorials that have been built throughout the world in a response to the War.
Wimmer, Adi. "The American Idea of National Identity: Patriotism and Poetic Sensibility Before and After Vietnam." Cultural Legacies of Vietnam: Uses of the Past in the Present. Ed. Richard Morris and Peter Ehrenhaus. Norwood: Ablex, 1990. 55-79.
Tracing the historical links between American mythology, the Vietnam War, and imaginative literature by analyzing literary and cultural documents (De Tocquville to John Wayne), there is an exploration of the perceived national moral superiority (and thus the view that God is on the U.S. side in combat situations) and how this feeling drastically changed as a direct result of Vietnam War. Many writers and poets who experienced the Vietnam War produced literature that not only reflected their disillusionment with the government and their patriotic views but also their loss of faith in their superior moral standing to other cultures/countries.
Winter Soldier. Winter Film, 1972.
Harsh look at the effect of U.S. government policy and practice that de-humanized the Vietnamese and made them "targets" for war crimes by American soldiers. Through interviews with veterans, film from the battlefield, and testimony given at the Winter Soldier Investigation Against the War in 1971, there is an obvious struggle on the part of the soldiers to come to an understanding of their past actions and their need to speak out so these crimes would not be committed again in the future. By Vietnam Veterans Against the War.
Wolf, Susan. "Women and Vietnam: Remembering in the 1980s." Unwinding the Vietnam War: From War Into Peace. Ed. Reese Williams. Seattle: The Real Comet Press, 1987. 243-60.
"The families of all veterans will live with the war forever, and women writers are also giving form to their experience in fiction and poetry."
Wright, David K. The Story of The Vietnam Memorial. Chicago: Childrens Press, 1989.
While the target audience of this very short (31 pages) book is children and the "story" rudimentary, it is well told and outlines the building of the Wall as well as touching upon the controversy. Also a good resource for photos of the major players in the construction.
Zinn, Howard. A People's History of the United States: 1492-Present. New York: Harper Perennial, 1995.
A revisionist history of the United States told from the point of view of the oppressed. "The Impossible Victory: Vietnam" is a great resource and history of the war that specifically places class and race at the center of both the Vietnam War and the protest movement.
---. You Can't Be Neutral on a Moving Train: A Personal History of Our Times. Boston: Beacon Press, 1994.
A personal memoir that concentrates on Zinn's political activist/academic career. "War" deals specifically with the Vietnam War and his emotional/political/activist response to it.