How The Seventies Changed America

The “loser decade” that at first seemed nothing more than a breathing space between the high drama of the 1960s and whatever was coming next is beginning to reveal itself as a bigger time than we thought

That’s it,” Daniel Patrick Moynihan, then U.S. ambassador to India, wrote to a colleague on the White House staff in 1973 on the subject of some issue of the moment. “Nothing will happen. But then nothing much is going to happen in the 1970s anyway.” Read more »

Prescott’s War

A civilian adventurer gave us the best artist’s record of America in Vietnam.

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Shellshock

Let’s call him Frank. “He was in the war” is how adults explained Frank’s odd behavior a generation ago. As he walked through the small town then, his gait was clumsy, his clothes disheveled, and he seemed to go nowhere in particular. One could drive through any part of town and chance to see Frank on the corner, his face at once drawn and blank, as he was waiting to cross a street where the traffic never ceased. Sometimes he carried a paper bag, clutched as though it were filled with precious things.Read more »

"I Had Prayed To God That This Thing Was Fiction…"

He didn’t want the job but felt he should do it. For the first time, the soldier who tracked down the My Lai story for the office of the inspector general in 1969 tells what it was like to do some of this era’s grimmest detective work.

In the early spring of 1969 I was an Army colonel recently assigned to the office of the inspector general in Washington, and I was not particularly happy about it; I have always disliked living in Washington, and I think that most infantry officers would rather serve with troops than investigate allegations about irregularities in procurement, which was most of what the IG’s D.C. office did. Our job was to look into complaints sent to us from the Executive Branch or the Congress, and seven or eight fresh ones circulated in each morning’s Read File.Read more »

More on Vietnam

When my daughter is old enough to ask about Vietnam, my answer to the question “What should we tell our children about Vietnam?” will include many of the points assembled in Bill McCloud’s article. If she asks what I was doing then, I will tell her that I never fought there. Instead, in the early 1970s, I was having the educational time of my life in college, with a comfortably high draft-lottery number in the 300s. None of my friends or acquaintances went off to war. Read more »

Telling Our Children About Vietnam

I was saddened by the responses of so many eminent Americans when asked “What should we tell our children about Vietnam?” Myths about the nature of U.S. involvement predominate and cloud the real lessons that must be learned if we are to avoid another such tragedy. The truth is: Read more »

What Should We Tell Our Children About Vietnam?

That was the question an Oklahoma high school teacher sent out in a handwritten note to men and women who had been prominent movers or observers during the Vietnam War. Politicians and journalists and generals and combat veterans answered him. Secretaries of Defense answered him. Presidents answered him. Taken together, the answers form a powerful and moving record of the national conscience.

Last year my principal and friend, Rick Elliott, told me that he wanted the Vietnam War to be covered more thoroughly than it had been in the social studies classes at our junior high school in Pryor, Oklahoma. Although Vietnam was our nation’s most recent war, America’s combat role in it had ended before most of our students were born. When you consider that the war was the most divisive event in the past hundred years of our history, it becomes obvious that it is something that desperately needs to be taught in our schools. Read more »

Hard Looks at Hidden History

Hard Looks at Hidden History

One of the more unlikely results of the American Revolution was Australia. Most American colonists came here voluntarily, of course, but until 1776 we meekly accepted boatloads of His Majesty’s convicts as indentured servants.Read more »

‘What Did You Do In The War, Professor?’

Historians have failed to help Americans understand what the war was all about. So charges this scholar, author, and Vietnam veteran.

Instead of fading away, as some thought it would, interest in the Vietnam War seems to be growing steadily. Last year all three networks devoted hour-long specials to the tenth anniversary of the end of the war, with weighty pronouncements on the meaning of it all. Newspaper columnists published similar pieces on the same subject. The Washington Post “Book World” devoted most of an issue to books about Vietnam, all of which had appeared during the previous few months.Read more »

2.from Normandy To Grenada

A veteran reporter looks back to a time when the stakes were really high—and vet military men actually trusted newsmen.

One week in August 1942 several stories on the British war effort appeared on the wires of the Associated Press, written by an AP reporter based in London named Drew Middleton.

What the readers did not know was that Middleton had spent part of that week not in England but under enemy fire in a boat off the coast of France, watching an Allied commando raid on a German strongpoint.

The Germans didn’t know either, which was the point. Read more »