Vietnam war

Spike Lee Explores Themes of Racism, War, and Redemption in ‘Da 5 Bloods’

Ulises Duenas

It shouldn’t be surprising that a movie by Spike Lee explores themes of race and racism in a thought-provoking way. Da 5 Bloods opens with war footage and speakers remarking on the historical use of Black soldiers as frontline infantry. The entire plotline about the buried gold is centered around the idea of taking the gold as a way to “stick it to the man” and support their people. Several characters remark about the injustice of Black people not having the same rights as others despite spilling their blood on the battlefield in large numbers through various wars.

Planting the Roots of Peace in Vietnam and Beyond

Heidi Kühn

The Vietnamese are not alone in facing the scourge of landmines. Worldwide, millions of landmines currently lie hidden in soil that might otherwise be utilized for the creation of crops or placement of shelter. As with COVID-19, landmines represent a large-scale loss of life from an invisible threat. The need for global collaboration to overcome both of them make the nexus clear, as does the passion needed to prevail over them both.

 

Robert Stone Confronts the ‘Random Promiscuity of Events’ in New Book

Lee Polevoi

Drugs and alcohol played an active part throughout Stone’s work. This reflected his own experiences with intoxicants of one sort or another. It also found expression in the idea that mind-bending drugs and distorted perception might lead to a higher truth or to abject tragedy. “It’s a mess when everybody’s high,” he writes in “A Higher Horror of the Whiteness.” “I liked it better when the weirdest thing around was me.”

 

Remembering the Genius of Kurt Vonnegut and ‘Slaughterhouse-Five’

Adam Gravano

As a young man, few books exerted anything like the formative power held by Kurt Vonnegut's Slaughterhouse-Five. Despite the grim acceptance of a world with conflict and war, Vonnegut still fell into writing an anti-war book, perhaps an anti-war book highly ranked among the best. This year marks the 50th anniversary of its publication, and, accordingly, Modern Library has released a new edition with a foreword by Kevin Powers. And, as the foreword shows in splendid detail, the lessons of Slaughterhouse-Five are just as relevant today as they were in 1969. 

The Temptation of the Intellectuals: LBJ and the 1965 Festival of the Arts

Mike Peters

The Festival takes place at a critical and turbulent time in modern American history. In a society increasingly marked by division and conflict, due initially to the struggle for Civil Rights and then to the slowly gathering campaign to stop the War, the US Administration is keen to ensure that alternative voices to the those on the radical Left can be heard. For although Lyndon Johnson, from taking office in 1963, has been  a reforming president, introducing large-scale social programs to alleviate poverty, end racial discrimination and improve educational opportunity, he is in danger, as a result of his military interventions in Vietnam.

The Vietnam War 40 Years Later: How Capitalism Trumped Ideology

Andrew Lam

Forty years have passed since the Vietnam War ended, and a parade was staged in Ho Chi Minh City, formally Saigon, to commemorate that date. Yet despite the fanfare debates rage on both sides of the Pacific as to who really won and who lost that war. While the hammer and sickle and Uncle Ho’s image may still adorn T-shirts it sells to foreign tourists, Vietnam’s heart throbs for all things American, especially Apple. 

Documenting a Changing Vietnam Through Photographs

Andrew Lam

Though the country remained under a one-party rule, Vietnam has since the late 1980s eased its once-iron grip on the economy and cultural life, moving from a socialist to a free market economy. Gone are the days when citizens were required to discuss Marxist-Leninist doctrines at weekly neighborhood sessions. Gone too are the permits needed to buy rice from state-run stores, or to move from one city to another. The drab, impoverished and immobile nation that Catherine saw when she first visited in 1990 quickly shifted under her lens. And fascinated, she kept coming back. 

The Many Casualties of LBJ’s Gulf of Tonkin Resolution

Leonard Steinhorn

Fifty years ago, on August 10, 1964, President Lyndon Johnson signed what is known as the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution. It is a day that should live in infamy. On that day, the President gave himself the power “to take all necessary steps, including the use of armed forces,” to fight the spread of communism in Southeast Asia and assist our ally in South Vietnam “in defense of its freedom.” Or as former Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara put it decades later, it gave “complete authority to the president to take the nation to war.”

Iraq Replaces Vietnam as a Metaphor for Tragedy

Andrew Lam

Two-and-a-half years after the U.S. pulled out of Iraq the country has crumbled into a bona-fide failed state, with Baghdad under siege by ISIS (jihadist militants from the Islamic State), who are having a run of Iraq, and some analysts now worry that ISIS will commit mass genocide against Iraq's Shi'a population if Baghdad falls. The war in Iraq started with Operation Shock and Awe but ended in a fizzle and, some would argue, in an epic exercise in human futility. 

Vietnam: A Country of Contrasts

Andrew Lam

Modernity, that is to say, seeps in. You can see it as a river of motorcyclists rushing by while above them looms a Starbucks sign. Or take a look at the farmer standing in his bare feet on the verdant slope: Two oxen graze nearby, but he is preoccupied with chatting on his cell. Or consider the new cityscape of Saigon, my birthplace, now renamed Ho Chi Minh City, with its high-rises being constructed -- and see the once-sleepy town of villas and lycees and tree-lined boulevards transforming itself into a bona fide 21st-century metropolis.

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