SECTION ELEVEN 

sm
COLUMN SIXTY-NINE, MARCH 1, 2002
(Copyright 2002 The Blacklisted Journalist)

BOOK REVIEWS

HOME TO WAR: A History of The Vietnam Veterans' Movement, by Gerald Nicosia, Crown (Random House), New York, NY.  2001:  (H/B D/J 700pp) Original Edition, History of Vietnam Veterans' Anti-War Movement, includes Bibliographical references and index ISBN 0-8129-9103-6

HOME TO WAR A History of the Vietnam Veterans' Movement by Gerald Nicosia is an epic presentation, not only of the narrative history that chronicles the traumatic experience of Vietnam Veterans, but of those men, who returned home, after blood, sweat and tears, to find chaos, ridicule, and ambiguous contradictions of shame.

Veterans, maimed, wounded, broken, and heartsick, many forced to watch buddies drop near their sides, were now denied the all-inclusive cloak worn by former conquering heroes. The VVs returned, not as glorified heroes with ticker-tape parades. They returned to degradation, illness, drug addictions and guilt-ridden flashbacks.

A passionate concept, deeply rooted in Gerald Nicosia's mind evolved into HOME TO WAR. This undertaking absorbed ten years. It encompassed weeks, months and years of dedicated work; interviews, photos, correspondence, late night telephone conversations, and meetings conducted by this dedicated author.

As readers, we know Gerald Nicosia as the author of the award wining Memory Babe: A Critical Biography of Jack Kerouac.  Nicosia has taught writing, journalism, Beat and Vietnam Literature at the University of Illinois.  To relax from this demanding work, Gerald also pens poetry. Locate a copy of, Lunatics, Lovers, Poets, Vets & Bargirls for an example of Gerald's witty and heartfelt poetry. Gerry is a spellbinding storyteller.

Gerald Nicosia's concerned gaze now falls upon the thirty years of escalated activism after war atrocity horror. The return of scarred heroes. The attempt to heal the scar schism created in a generation that had never previously endured war and could not imagine how it would be so victimized.

Cold sweats replaced foxholes. Wheelchairs, amputation, drug addiction, stares, hostility, and anonymity replaced guns, pride, medals, and companionship.  Americans were turmoiled. Anger soared. Tempers flared. Fear gripped young throats.

Vietnam Veterans protested. Jan Barry Crumb founded the VVAW. The VFP organized a Peace Parade. Now, they had the vision of ending all wars forever. Allegations by Dr. Levy that the special forces were a cover for committed atrocities by the American military in Vietnam, caused an uproar. Negotiation Now! bore a masthead of Arthur Schlesinger Jr., Dr. M.L.K. Jr., Norman Cousins, John K. Galbraith and William Shirer.

It was a chaotic time. It was a heroic time.  Operation RAW slammed home old ghosts with vivid recollections of pain, horror, and brutality. The Veterans' Movement bolstered by many who had endured the full brunt of the war, flowed across America like a powerful river force; into our living rooms, into our minds.  The collective soul shuddered.

Jane Fonda, Mark Lane, Bob Hoffman, Donald Sutherland, John Forbes Kerry, and Karen Burnstein became voices for the VVAW.  War crime testimonies inflamed. During the Winter Soldier Investigations, [For an excerpt, click on /column68a.html ] horror spilled from trembling lips about the My Lai massacre. Raw nerve endings were set afire..

The price of war zoomed.  Sick vets manifested visibility. The public schooled on devious tactics, and the hot line for Agent Orange victims and related illnesses. Now, young veterans joined together, in heroic battles, on the home front.  They campaigned for medical help and demanded compensation. (These effects are still highly visible in cities with VV Hospitals.) Complacency and lethargy would not be tolerated. Human guinea pigs were more than disturbing. The movement had developed into even deeper philosophical and political convictions.

Because it accurately delineates barbaric, and callous behavior, HOME TO WAR is a disturbing book. Finally, the American public realized, the Vietnam Veterans were also victims.  Many became our homeless and drug addicted. Families were ripped apart as minds failed beneath horrendous flashbacks and addictions.  But, they also became teachers, unintentionally, held-up as examples to future military enlistees. Is this war really worth risking your life?

Thank you, Gerald.  This book reveals your honest dedication. Anyone reading these facts will feel humbled.  ##

CLICK HERE TO GET TO INDEX OF COLUMN SEVENTY

 


CLICK HERE TO GET TO INDEX OF COLUMNS

The Blacklisted Journalist can be contacted at P.O.Box 964, Elizabeth, NJ 07208-0964
The Blacklisted Journalist's E-Mail Address:
info@blacklistedjournalist.com
 
 

THE BLACKLISTED JOURNALIST IS A SERVICE MARK OF AL ARONOWITZ