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The War in Vietnam: Studies in Remembrance and Legacy, 2000–2014 (June 2016): Recent Document Collections and Reference Works

By Jerry Lembcke

Recent Document Collections and Reference Works

The essential newer publication in this category is The Vietnam War: A History in Documents, edited by Marilyn Young and John J. Fitzgerald.  The book is written for undergraduate history students as a how-to manual for using documents—declassified government documents, correspondence, photographs, and cartoons—selected copies of which are included in the book.  The editors tie the documents together with brief paragraphs to compose an attractive introductory narrative history of the war itself.  James Lewes’s Protest and Survive, with the history of the GI antiwar movement woven in, is also more than a compendium of documents.  Bradley and Werner’s survey of music popular with in-country troops (We Gotta Get out of This Place) with historical and cultural annotation also serves as a good reference work.

For his content analysis of war coverage, The Weekly War: Newsmagazines and Vietnam, James Landers compares 100-plus stories from each of the magazines Time, Newsweek, and US News & World Report between 1965 and 1973 for both their ideological and policy orientations and their accuracy against the historical record as known today.  He includes descriptive material on the work lives of in-country reporters as well as brief and thoughtful comments on the television and newspaper coverage of the war.  (Landers chides the popular memory of Vietnam as “the living-room war,” “America’s first television war,” as “erroneous,” a notion “which fed the myth of television’s impact on the public.”)  Landers’s insights extend beyond the reportage of the war to controversies arising from its conduct and outcome, making this a substantive book that is well organized and refreshing to read.  Merle L. Pribbenow’s translation of the Military History Institute of Vietnam’s The Official History of the People’s Army of Vietnam, 1954-1975, published as Victory in Vietnam, is a reference volume for scholars and advanced students for comparative studies of the historical records through which the memory of the war continues to unfold.