New Perceptions of the Vietnam War

Essays on the War, the South Vietnamese Experience, the Diaspora and the Continuing Impact

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About the Book

The effects of the War outside present-day Vietnam are ongoing. Substantial Vietnamese communities in countries that participated in the conflict are contributing to renewed interpretations of it. This collection of new essays explores changes in perceptions of the war and the Vietnamese diaspora, examining history, politics, biography and literature, with Vietnamese, American, Australian and French scholars providing new insights.
Twelve essays cover South Vietnamese leadership and policies, women and civilians, veterans overseas, smaller allies in the war (Australia), accounts by U.S., Australian and South Vietnamese servicemen as well as those of Indigenous soldiers from the U.S. and Australia, memorials and commemorations, and the legacy of war on individual lives and government policy.

About the Author(s)

Nathalie Huynh Chau Nguyen is an associate professor and Australian Research Council Future Fellow at the National Centre for Australian Studies at Monash University. She lives in Melbourne, Australia.

Bibliographic Details

Edited by Nathalie Huynh Chau Nguyen
Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 268
Bibliographic Info: 4 photos, 2 maps, notes, bibliographies, index
Copyright Date: 2015
pISBN: 978-0-7864-9509-2
eISBN: 978-1-4766-1858-6
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Table of Contents


Preface and Acknowledgments 1

Introduction: New Perceptions of the Vietnam War (Nathalie Huynh Chau Nguyen) 3

Part I: War and Politics

“A Short Road to Hell”: Thieu, South Vietnam and the Paris Peace Accords (George J. Veith) 21

An Intellectual Through Revolution, War and Exile: The Political Commitment of Nguyen Ngoc Huy (1924–1990) (François Guillemot) 41

Fifty Years On: ­Half-Century Reflections on the Australian Commitment to the Vietnam War (Peter Edwards) 72

Part II: Memorials and Commemoration

Side-by-Side Memorials: Commemorating the Vietnam War

in Australia (Christopher R. Linke) 85

Vietnam: The Long Journey Home (Elizabeth Stewart) 108

Part III: War and Women’s Writing

War Through Women’s Eyes: Nam Phuong’s Red on Gold and

Yung Krall’s A Thousand Tears Falling ( Huynh Chau Nguyen) 129

The Postwar Body: The Literary Double in the Exile Literature

of Linda Lê (Alexandra Kurmann and Tess Do) 151

Part IV: Identities and Legacies

The Vietnam War: A Personal Journey (Robert S. McKelvey) 169

Recognition of War Service: Vietnamese Veterans and Australian Government Policy (Nathalie Huynh Chau Nguyen) 184

Indigenous Soldiers: Native American and Aboriginal Australian Service in Vietnam (Noah Riseman) 203

An Independent Command? Australia’s Ground Forces in the Vietnam War and Contemporary Memories (Bruce Davies) 229

About the Contributors 249

Index 253

Book Reviews & Awards

“Australian interpretations of the war and the emphasis given the Australian-South Vietnamese alliance command this volume to advanced readers…recommended”—Choice; “Nguyen correctly identifies a serious gap as far as the diaspora and memory is concerned, and brings a refreshing interdisciplinary approach by selecting works incorporating ‘a range of approaches covering history, politics and biography and literature…does much to recover the voices of historical actors largely missed by the field at large and is valuable to any student of the war or of Vietnamese history”—Journal of Military History; “a new perspective on a war narrative that has been homogenised by the ubiquity of its cultural representations”—Australian Historical Studies; “essays unite Vietnamese, American, Australian and French scholars…historical photos are included”—ProtoView; “valuable material on aspects of the war and its aftermath”—Australian Journal of Politics and History; “Forty years after the fall of Saigon, this important collection provides fresh insights into the history of the Vietnam War and the multiple ways its political and cultural legacies continue to reverberate around the world. This is not only a timely and highly interesting volume, but also one that breaks new ground in bringing cross-disciplinary perspectives to bear in the reassessment of the Vietnam War.”—Kate Darian-Smith, University of Melbourne; “Nathalie Huynh Chau Nguyen brings together a range of scholarly approaches in offering fresh perspectives on the Vietnam War. In particular, the firm redirection of attention to the Republic of Vietnam, its institutions and citizens is a most welcome development and one that should prompt a rebalancing of historical accounts which, till now, have largely elided the South Vietnamese from their history. Solidly based on a wide range of public, private, published and archival sources in English, French and Vietnamese, New Perceptions of the Vietnam War will offer much of interest to all those with an interest in one of the most important Cold War conflicts of the second half of the 20th century.”—Jeffrey Grey, UNSW Canberra at the Australian Defence Force Academy.