The Vietnam War undoubtedly remains one of the most confusing, hotly-debated events of world history. Decades later, the war’s legacy cannot be accurately measured, much less fully understood. Just in time for back-to-school, the first-ever graphic version – 140 pages of black-and-white-drawings – of the complicated war makes its debut in September, providing as clear and concise a representation of the war’s events as possible.
The prologue opens with three quotes which serve as warnings that we have yet to learn from past mistakes: “I’ve told the American people … that this will not be another Vietnam,” President George Herbert Walker Bush, 1991; “A lot of people have warned President Clinton that Bosnia will turn into another Vietnam,” Bill Maher, 1995; and “Iraq is George Bush’s Vietnam,” Senator Edward Kennedy, 2004. Wars, by too many other names, seem to go on and on and on …
Quite a few “HOLY MOLY, I didn’t know that!” moments exist throughout the book, at least for me. I don’t think I’ll be alone when the book hits bookshelves next month. The Vietnam War begins with America’s May 1950 commitment to help the French keep its colonies in Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia (!) and concludes with the 1982 unveiling of Maya Lin’s “The Wall” and the subsequent additions of more traditional statue monuments in response to the numerous “Wall” critics. In between are President Lyndon Johnson’s monumental “Great Society” programs which hoped to eliminate social injustice and poverty at home (if only, if only!), the milestone battles won and eventually lost, the human collateral damage on both sides, the anti-war protests, the assassinations of Martin Luther King, Jr. and Robert Kennedy, the embarrassment of Watergate, the final pull-out, and the painful legacy of Americans still missing.
Knowledge is power, as the saying goes. Once we truly know, perhaps that understanding – with books like this as a starting point for younger readers, too – will finally provide a reliable path toward lasting peace.
Readers: Young Adult, Adult