This book provides a fresh approach to understanding the American combat soldier's experience in Vietnam. It integrates such topics as the political culture, the experiences of training, the actual Vietnam experience, and the 'homecoming', and offers a remarkable overview of the 870,000 'grunts' who bore the brunt of the fighting in the jungles and highlands of South Vietnam, and eventually Cambodia and Laos.The book addresses many of the stereotypes of the Vietnam combat veteran that have been perpertrated in popular culture, and also considers how Vietnam veterans have been commemorated through memorials and other means, and how the veterans remember each other. The coverage also includes women who served in or near the front lines as well as on the home front. The author draws on memoirs and oral histories including his personal interviews with veterans, but the book conveys a picture of the Vietnam combat soldier's experience far more powerful than what individual memoirs can provide.
Introduction; 1. Johnny Get Your Gun: Decisions to Enter the U.S. Military during the Vietnam War; 2. Building GI Joe: Induction, Boot Camp, and Advanced Training During the Vietnam Era; 3. The First Wave: The American Infantryman in Vietnam, 1961-1968; 5. Coming Home: Reintegrating into Society and Memory of the American Infantryman in Vietnam; Epilogue; Notes; Bibliography; Index.