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Bringing It All Back Home: An Oral History of New York City's Vietnam Veterans

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A collection of heartrending oral histories that topples assumptions about the people who served in Vietnam The Vietnam War was a defining event for a generation of Americans. But for years, misguided and sometimes demeaning clichés about its veterans have proliferated widely. Philip F. Napoli's Bringing It All Back Home strips away the myths and reveals the complex individ A collection of heartrending oral histories that topples assumptions about the people who served in Vietnam The Vietnam War was a defining event for a generation of Americans. But for years, misguided and sometimes demeaning clichés about its veterans have proliferated widely. Philip F. Napoli's Bringing It All Back Home strips away the myths and reveals the complex individuals who served in Southeast Asia. Napoli was one of the chief researchers for Tom Brokaw's The Greatest Generation, and in the spirit of that enterprise, his oral histories recast our understanding of a war and its legacy. Napoli introduces a remarkable group of young New Yorkers who went abroad with high hopes only to find a bewildering conflict. We meet a nurse who staged a hunger strike to promote peace while working at a field hospital; a paratrooper whose experiences on the battlefield left him with emotional scars that led to violence and homelessness; a black soldier who achieved an unexpected camaraderie with his fellow servicemen in racially tense times; and a university administrator who helped to create New York City's Vietnam Veterans Memorial. Some of Napoli's soldiers became active opponents of the war; others did not. But all returned with a powerful urge to understand the death and destruction they had seen. Overcoming adversity, a great many would go on to lead ambitious lives of public service. Tracing their journeys from the streets of Brooklyn and Queens to the banks of the Mekong, and back to the most glamorous corporations and meanest homeless shelters of New York City, Napoli reveals the variety and surprising vibrancy of the ex-soldiers' experiences. "For almost everyone the time in Vietnam was the most exciting and the most alive time of your life," one veteran recalls. He adds: "I still have this little trick . . . When I lie down and go to sleep, if there's something bothering me, I say, ‘You're warm, you're dry, and there is no one shooting at you.'"


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A collection of heartrending oral histories that topples assumptions about the people who served in Vietnam The Vietnam War was a defining event for a generation of Americans. But for years, misguided and sometimes demeaning clichés about its veterans have proliferated widely. Philip F. Napoli's Bringing It All Back Home strips away the myths and reveals the complex individ A collection of heartrending oral histories that topples assumptions about the people who served in Vietnam The Vietnam War was a defining event for a generation of Americans. But for years, misguided and sometimes demeaning clichés about its veterans have proliferated widely. Philip F. Napoli's Bringing It All Back Home strips away the myths and reveals the complex individuals who served in Southeast Asia. Napoli was one of the chief researchers for Tom Brokaw's The Greatest Generation, and in the spirit of that enterprise, his oral histories recast our understanding of a war and its legacy. Napoli introduces a remarkable group of young New Yorkers who went abroad with high hopes only to find a bewildering conflict. We meet a nurse who staged a hunger strike to promote peace while working at a field hospital; a paratrooper whose experiences on the battlefield left him with emotional scars that led to violence and homelessness; a black soldier who achieved an unexpected camaraderie with his fellow servicemen in racially tense times; and a university administrator who helped to create New York City's Vietnam Veterans Memorial. Some of Napoli's soldiers became active opponents of the war; others did not. But all returned with a powerful urge to understand the death and destruction they had seen. Overcoming adversity, a great many would go on to lead ambitious lives of public service. Tracing their journeys from the streets of Brooklyn and Queens to the banks of the Mekong, and back to the most glamorous corporations and meanest homeless shelters of New York City, Napoli reveals the variety and surprising vibrancy of the ex-soldiers' experiences. "For almost everyone the time in Vietnam was the most exciting and the most alive time of your life," one veteran recalls. He adds: "I still have this little trick . . . When I lie down and go to sleep, if there's something bothering me, I say, ‘You're warm, you're dry, and there is no one shooting at you.'"

41 review for Bringing It All Back Home: An Oral History of New York City's Vietnam Veterans

  1. 4 out of 5

    HQ

    Excellent in terms of a range of stories and voices across the many [American] experiences of the Vietnam War. The author did well also in including stories of people across the educational and socioeconomic spectrum, less so on other factors, though at least we learn of the experiences of a few black vets, and from two women vets. Yet the strengths of the medium (oral history) were also its limits - these diverse stories do not form an overly strong narrative and I came away from them having co Excellent in terms of a range of stories and voices across the many [American] experiences of the Vietnam War. The author did well also in including stories of people across the educational and socioeconomic spectrum, less so on other factors, though at least we learn of the experiences of a few black vets, and from two women vets. Yet the strengths of the medium (oral history) were also its limits - these diverse stories do not form an overly strong narrative and I came away from them having connected to individual stories but without an overall context to place them in. A timeline or some historical background to link all the stories would've been helpful. Still, though, I think this book captured a very valuable piece of history.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Patrick

    Really good. Oral history that reads quickly and debunks a lot of the myths about the war.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Tuvana

    Powerful

  4. 4 out of 5

    Sam

  5. 4 out of 5

    Joe Allen

  6. 5 out of 5

    Elaine

  7. 4 out of 5

    Rachel Trimble

  8. 5 out of 5

    Maureen Hochberg

  9. 5 out of 5

    Jennifer

  10. 4 out of 5

    Patrick Haney

  11. 5 out of 5

    Erin Elizabeth

  12. 5 out of 5

    Katherine Prezioso

  13. 5 out of 5

    Jeanine Ging

  14. 4 out of 5

    Victor Giannini

  15. 5 out of 5

    Phil Lagana

  16. 4 out of 5

    Christina

  17. 5 out of 5

    Ed McClain

  18. 5 out of 5

    Kurt Rusch

  19. 5 out of 5

    Jennifer

  20. 5 out of 5

    Alicia

  21. 5 out of 5

    Caitlin Chicolio

  22. 5 out of 5

    Mia

  23. 4 out of 5

    Roxanne

  24. 5 out of 5

    Reading Room220

  25. 5 out of 5

    Jobber

  26. 4 out of 5

    Kim Daly

  27. 4 out of 5

    Vanessa

  28. 4 out of 5

    Katie

  29. 5 out of 5

    Sharon Bordt

  30. 4 out of 5

    Mel

  31. 4 out of 5

    Ppl Reads

  32. 4 out of 5

    Jenny Russell

  33. 4 out of 5

    Mpho3

  34. 5 out of 5

    Keatley

  35. 4 out of 5

    K.B.

  36. 4 out of 5

    Andrea

  37. 4 out of 5

    Beiza

  38. 5 out of 5

    Erin Elizabeth

  39. 5 out of 5

    Claire

  40. 4 out of 5

    Ed

  41. 5 out of 5

    Kevin Seymour

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