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Reporting Vietnam- Part One: American Journalism 1959-1969

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Vietnam was more than just the first television war; it was also the first war in which uncensored journalists reported widely and freely from the battlefield. The result was a powerful body of graphic and critical news reports that helped shaped public opinion back in the U.S.


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Vietnam was more than just the first television war; it was also the first war in which uncensored journalists reported widely and freely from the battlefield. The result was a powerful body of graphic and critical news reports that helped shaped public opinion back in the U.S.

30 review for Reporting Vietnam- Part One: American Journalism 1959-1969

  1. 5 out of 5

    Mikey B.

    Page 47 (my book) Ho Chi Minh (1962) “The Americans are much stronger than the French, though they know us less well. It may perhaps take ten years to do it, but our heroic compatriots in the South will defeat them in the end.” Page 387 reporter Jonathan Schell (1967) I have no wish to pass judgement on the individual Americans fighting in Vietnam. I wish merely to record what I witnessed, in the hope that it will help us all to understand better what we are doing. This book is an outstanding exampl Page 47 (my book) Ho Chi Minh (1962) “The Americans are much stronger than the French, though they know us less well. It may perhaps take ten years to do it, but our heroic compatriots in the South will defeat them in the end.” Page 387 reporter Jonathan Schell (1967) I have no wish to pass judgement on the individual Americans fighting in Vietnam. I wish merely to record what I witnessed, in the hope that it will help us all to understand better what we are doing. This book is an outstanding example of investigative journalism. These reporters inquired and explored Vietnam, bringing to us the implications of U.S. involvement. They go into small villages and the rural country-side on patrols and helicopter rides with U.S. troops. All levels, from small hamlets to air force bases and the ironies of living in Saigon are reported and diagnosed. The very best stories are “Suffer the Little Children” by Martha Gelhorn, which as the title suggests is harrowing, “The Military Half: An Account of the Destruction in Quang Ngai and Quang Tin” by Jonathan Schell, and “Casualties of War” by Daniel Lang. Page 467 Into an area of ten by twenty kilometres they [U.S. military] had dropped 282 tons of “general purpose” bombs and 116 tons of napalm; fired 1,005 rockets (not counting rockets fired from helicopters), 132,820 rounds of 20mm explosive strafing shells, and 119,350 7.62mm rounds of machine-gun fire from Spooky flights; and fired 8,488 artillery rounds. By the end of the operation, the Civil Affairs Office had supervised the evacuation of six hundred and forty of the area’s seventeen thousand people, to the vicinity of government camps. In many of these stories we are given a personal view of war – what it did to the people of Vietnam and the soldiers there (soldiers on both sides – North and South). War is the ultimate negative side of humanity. Page 761 – and American soldier “We had to answer to something, to someone – maybe just to ourselves.” As a personal criticism of an article by Tom Wolfe – he is so enthralled by the technology on an aircraft carrier that he is oblivious to the destruction caused to human beings. Reading through all these essays one cannot (at least I cannot) answer what the purpose was of the U.S. presence in Vietnam – or more to the point what good it did to anyone. Also what became apparent was the way this war was being evaluated at the time – largely through the use of statistics. There were many stories from both reporters and government officials in the early 1960’s warning of the futility of the U.S. military build-up in Vietnam – these were unheeded. I also believe that many of us tend to view military confrontations through large massed armies, like in World War II – but historically many long-term struggles, like Vietnam, have not been fought in this method. Rather they are extended guerilla civilian uprisings – akin to tribal warfare like Afghanistan, Iraq, the Congo... And in reading this book we should always be thankful for the freedom we have and allow. The journalists in this book, in manifold ways, told us the truth about Vietnam (some lost their lives while doing so). They brought to us the consequences of war. Memorial to Fallen Reporters in Bayeux, France > in the Newseum, Washington DC

  2. 4 out of 5

    Brianna

    I learned so much about Vietnam -- the combat, the politics, the protests. Two of these articles were incredibly gut-wrenching and soul-shaking to read (one was a soldier's account of battle and the nightmares it caused, one a soldier's account of his fight to bring fellow soldiers to justice after their rape & murder of a Vietnamese girl) but all important stories. It all feels so eerily relevant. I learned so much about Vietnam -- the combat, the politics, the protests. Two of these articles were incredibly gut-wrenching and soul-shaking to read (one was a soldier's account of battle and the nightmares it caused, one a soldier's account of his fight to bring fellow soldiers to justice after their rape & murder of a Vietnamese girl) but all important stories. It all feels so eerily relevant.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Paul O'Leary

    An excellent collection, mostly of articles, written about the war in Vietnam from 1959 to 1969. Offerings snatched from books suffer from their deracination, as is usually the case, which means Tom Wolfe and Norman Mailer compare quite unfavorably to Sheehan and Arnett, for instance. Some of the reporting from the field really grabs you. The piece, Paddy War, really reminded me of Orwell's Shooting an Elephant. The reporter's overwhelming desire to monetarily compensate a wife whose husband was An excellent collection, mostly of articles, written about the war in Vietnam from 1959 to 1969. Offerings snatched from books suffer from their deracination, as is usually the case, which means Tom Wolfe and Norman Mailer compare quite unfavorably to Sheehan and Arnett, for instance. Some of the reporting from the field really grabs you. The piece, Paddy War, really reminded me of Orwell's Shooting an Elephant. The reporter's overwhelming desire to monetarily compensate a wife whose husband was killed by south Vietnamese soldiers he accompanied on their patrol still gives me the shivers. Others deal with America's internal situation, politically & socially, like Meg Greenfield's After the Washington Teach-In. Mary McCarthy's piece on her trip to Hanoi is as fine an example of fellow traveler apologetics as you'll ever find in print. Jack Smith's Death in the Drang Valley comes alive before you in a way no war movie ever will succeed in doing. Karnow and Fall interpret the political scene in South Vietnam with skill, knowledge and conviction. Grant's For a Time We Lived Like Dogs provides witnesses' verbal chronicles during their time in a North Vietnamese POW camp. There is no way you can cover the ground offered in this volume and not learn more about the Vietnam War than you knew before. An excellent resource that is presently and puzzlingly undervalued in price on Amazon. Some general thoughts on the Vietnam war gleaned from the pieces in this book: 1) Initially, American advisors were aghast by the brutality of the South Vietnamese army and how it dealt with its village people. Rather than change the demeanor of the SVA, American soldiers began to take on these callous and brutal characteristics. Needless to say, this did not help for relations between American military, which took on more and more field responsibilities from the inefficient SVA, and the average SV citizen. 2) the Diem regime was corrupt and unbearable. Johnson telling him that he was the man had an adverse affect by increasing his already sufficiently bloated sense of importance. Operation Bravo was a direct outgrowth of arrogance, corruption and delusion. Diem's removal, however, left no real "legitimate" figure to symbolize unity. Catholicism gave way to individualism as Saigon began to be perceived as an American business in which temporary CEOs were appointed. CEOs were regarded as figureheads by all concerned. 3) Reform from within in South Vietnam was impossible, or nearly so. The SVA had a Confucian tradition that refused adjustment to immediate needs, or reform from the top down through incentives. US forces found reform equally impossible as they structured their information back to Washington to serve as fodder against the popular war protests at home. US forces rewarded those who remained subservient to the change-of-command and its position, rather than speaking out against its errors, even when they are egregiously apparent. For this reason Tet in '68 was as much a surprise to Johnson as Cronkite. This prompted a disillusionment that was genuine at home, though rather cynical in the theater of war. 4) The mixture of air war in the north and ground war in the south both offered insufficient results for the manpower and resources involved. Air war seldom used very precise methods of targeting and was oftentimes wasteful, if not outright counterproductive. Ground war in the south was of the advance and retreat method as troops would not remain on acquired territory over night. Assets were squandered through abandonment. This resulted in the US military having to reclaim territory previous won on a regular basis. Both approaches did little to foster allies SV gov had amongst the common people of the villages and often drove them into the VC, when they weren't napalmed. 5) Social engineering of the "hamlet" system implemented driving SV villagers off their traditional land was costly and pointless. Villagers were no more safe on their new "lands" as government forces generally left them to their own meager resources. Village economic output suffered in these transitions, to put it mildly. French war left the peasant alone, generally. The US war enfeebled him, when it didn't totally impoverish him. 6) North Vietnamese were very mindful of protests and unpopularity of the war in the US. Negotiations for peace were completely impossible due to this. When waiting out the US's commitment and its eventually collapse bored NV & the VC, they switched to the offensive to push the matter further. 7) Resources improved for the VC as the war continued. When the VC stopped picking up US weapons to supplement their arms, the war had entered a new phase. 8) US troops on the whole respected "Charlie"; it held those they were fighting for mostly in disdain. No protective war can be successful under these conditions over a lengthy period of time. 9) "Hearts & minds" won by VC & NVA in the field, where it counts most. Grass roots approach paid enormous dividends, both offensively and defensively. Grass roots extended past nightfall in the ground theater and could go deep underground in the air theater. Violence and terror were always available and utilized to support this approach, making for a holistic strategy. In this sense, the US military's approach was hopelessly schizophrenic, refusing to acknowledge, much less openly advocate its use of brutality, as well as its abject inefficiency in capturing Vietnamese "hearts & minds" through pragmatic solutions of personal trust, 24 hr commitment, and economic betterment across the social board.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Lisa

    Would like to believe that journalists of the same caliber could be as widely read today as these men and women were during the Vietnam War. Sometimes the horrors of war are difficult to read about but how brave for the journalists to go where our military presence was and report while being embedded with them. I will read volume 2 but I may need some time between the two.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Isadora Wagner

    Terrific!

  6. 5 out of 5

    Chris Hartley

  7. 5 out of 5

    Daniel Thiel

  8. 5 out of 5

    Rebekka

  9. 5 out of 5

    Eric Martin

  10. 5 out of 5

    Mike

  11. 4 out of 5

    Juan Manuel

  12. 5 out of 5

    Catherine Gottwalt

  13. 4 out of 5

    Bill Mccorkle

  14. 5 out of 5

    Hugh

  15. 5 out of 5

    Donald Boen

  16. 4 out of 5

    Tom

  17. 4 out of 5

    GRANT

  18. 4 out of 5

    Victoria Braegger

  19. 4 out of 5

    Stephen

  20. 5 out of 5

    Mike

  21. 4 out of 5

    Will

  22. 5 out of 5

    Lazer

  23. 5 out of 5

    Mark Patton

  24. 4 out of 5

    Mark

  25. 4 out of 5

    Michael

  26. 4 out of 5

    Patti Schmidt

  27. 4 out of 5

    Dale

  28. 4 out of 5

    Scott Leffler

  29. 5 out of 5

    Alan

  30. 4 out of 5

    Colleen Kane Gielskie

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