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

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”—The VVA Veteran
  • “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.