The War I Survived Was Vietnam

Collected Writings of a Veteran and Antiwar Activist


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About the Book

This singular collection of articles, essays, poems, criticism and personal recollections by a Vietnam veteran documents the author’s reflections on the war, from his combat experiences to his exploration of American veteran identity to his struggles with PTSD. His career as an advocate for the welfare of GIs and veterans exposed to dangerous radiation and herbicides is covered. Several pieces deal with how the Vietnam experience is being archived by scholars for historical interpretation. These collected works serve as a study of how wars are remembered and written about by surviving veterans.

About the Author(s)

As a political activist, Michael Uhl was co-founder of the Safe Return Amnesty Committee and the GI and veteran advocacy organization, Citizen Soldier. An independent scholar, his articles and reviews have appeared in The Nation and The Boston Globe. He lives in Walpole, Maine.

Bibliographic Details

Michael Uhl
Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 300
Bibliographic Info: appendix, index
Copyright Date: 2016
pISBN: 978-1-4766-6614-3
eISBN: 978-1-4766-2580-5
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments vi

Foreword by Steve Rees 1

Preface 7

Featured Articles

Searching for Vietnam’s M.I.A.s 14

Vietnam’s Shadow over Abu Ghraib 21

The Wall: Entering the Aura of the Dead 26

The ­Spat-Upon Vet Revisited 29

Annals of the New Left: Dissing Golub 34


Introduction 39

Black Silks, Black Mud 40

Dignum et Justum Est 41

Shades 42

War Birthed Me 43

It’s Hard to Tell Sometimes… 44

Criticism and Reviews

Bombing for the Hell of It (Michael Uhl and Carol Brightman) 46

• Excerpt from an Interview with Robert Strange McNamara 52

Revising the Meaning of the Vietnam War 54

The Problematic: Penny Lewis Repairs Some Misconceptions About the Vietnam War 58

Apocalypse Now? The Strange Jeremiads of Christopher Hedges 64

Déjà Vu All Over Again: Notes on a Jonathan Schell Review 69

An Enfant Terrible Stumbles Upon the Vietnam War 75

• Veteran War Crimes Testimony, 1969–1971: An Annotated

Clipping File 82

Meeting the Enemy: A Marine Goes Home 93

Combat and Reconciliation: A Vietnam Vet Returns to Heal Old Wounds 96

Armed with the Facts 99

A Skillful Chronicle of Kerry’s Conflicts 102

War and Remembrance 105

Warrior’s Honor and the Ordeal of Survival 108

That’s Vietnam, Jake 112

The Jaws of Victory: A Historian Argues We Could Have Won—and Nearly Did Win—the Vietnam War 121

War and Madness 124

Obsessed by Vietnam 127

How We Bombed in Laos 130

On the Lam from Vietnam 133

Travels with Charlie 137

The God That Resigned 144

Letters Home 149

Gung Ho 152

The Chosen: An Essay

Some Notes on Being a Veteran in America 156


The Politics of PTSD 174

PTSD from the Inside Out 177

Surviving PTSD 181

In My Activist Voice

Heeding the Call 184

With Paul and Do’ at My Lai 187

VFP Agent Orange Delegation in Vietnam 190

Kerry and the Year of the Veteran 193

Warriors for Peace 195

Antiwar Vets Raise Their Voices 197

Vets Bite War 203

Occupying the Contested Zones of Meaning 207

With Tod Ensign

Introduction 209

Soldier as Workers 212

Changes in U.S. Army Mean Soldiers May Unionize 217

A Union of Soldiers 221

Support Still Strong for Military Union 226

Prospects for a Military Union Setback 228

Coalition Organizes Against Senate Bill 231

Unorganizing GIs 233

A Victim of the Tests 236

Blowing the Whistle on Agent Orange 238

Excerpt from G.I. Guinea Pigs: How the Pentagon Exposed Our Troops to Dangers More Deadly Than War 244

• Introduction 244

• Chapter 7—The Ranch Hands: “Only We can Prevent Forests…” 247

• Chapter 10—The VA Fiddles while Agent Orange Burns Vets 265

Appendix: Author’s Testimony Before the House Committee of Government Operations Hearings on the Phoenix Program 279

Index 287

Book Reviews & Awards

“Uhl is an astute commentator on every aspect of the war…an exceptional collection of essays, reviews, investigative reports, and memoirs…invaluable historical background on both the medical and political aspects of PTSD…an outstanding anthology”—Counter Punch; “a valuable reference tool for anyone looking for scholarly and incisive writing on America’s most divisive overseas war”—Vietnam Veterans of America; “Michael Uhl was one of the most prominent figures in the veteran’s resistance movement that played a crucial role in bringing to the American people the shocking reality of the Vietnam war. This collection of his writings is a pleasure to read, and to contemplate.”—Noam Chomsky, Institute Professor Emeritus, MIT; “As one of the most eloquent voices of the Vietnam generation, Michael Uhl’s essays, journalism, and criticism provide an essential road map to ‘the defining predicament’ of his generation. Uhl masterfully explains and analyzes the literature, politics, and emotional realities of the Vietnam legacy. This is essential reading for those of us who are still trying to make sense of the Sixties.”—Clara Bingham, Witness to the Revolution: Radicals, Resisters, Vets, Hippies, and the Year America Lost its Mind and Found its Soul.