Thursday, September 9, 2010
Way Down Yonder in Vietnam
My hold came in at the library (I love the library!): Shooting the Moon, by Frances O'Roark Dowell. It's a novel about a girl whose brother wants to join the army and go fight in Vietnam. She tells the story. Her father, an army colonel, has always taught them that the army way is the way. So she's confused when he tries to talk her brother out of enlisting. This was in 1969. There was a big anti-war movement in the country. President Lyndon Johnson was so unpopular because of the war that in 1968 he had decided not to run for reelection. Richard Nixon had been elected in the hope that he could end the war. This book is not so much an anti-war novel as it is a slice of life from that time. And it is well done.
I'm not going to spoil it by telling you how it ends, but her brother does see action ("see action" - now there's a euphemism!).
From Both Sides Now: The Poetry of the Vietnam War and its Aftermath, edited by Phillip Mahony, is a more intense look at the conflict (I just remembered - people frequently called it a "police action" or the "Vietnam conflict." Congress had not declared war, so it was not supposed to be called a war!). Mahony includes poetry written by people on both sides of the "conflict," which gives a nice, balanced view, I think. So after Shooting the Moon, try From Both Sides Now. If your library doesn't have it, they know how to get a copy. Did I mention I love the library?