A very bright young fellow I know sent me an email recently about how he had been reading about the 1960s and the Vietnam War, and was puzzled as to why victory over North Vietnam wasn’t our object. Why this strange exercise in conceiving the war as some kind of exercise in “communicating” with the Communist regime by means of “graduated pressure”?
I have my own answers to this good question, which are expressed in the first volume of my Age of Reagan books, but I thought this was an ideal question to put to Mackubin T. Owens, former professor of strategic studies at the Naval War College in Newport, Rhode Island, and frequent contributor to National Review, the Weekly Standard, the Claremont Review of Books, and several other publications. (In particular I want to draw attention to his critical review of the ten-part Ken Burns PBS documentary on Vietnam that received the usual acclaim when it aired, because Ken Burns has been wrongly made into an icon.)
In our wide ranging conversation Mac reflects on his own time as a Marine officer in Vietnam in 1968 and 1969, the best and worst books about Vietnam, and how Vietnam has been portrayed in pop culture—especially the movies of the 1970s that depicted our Vietnam experience as some kind of insane homicidal rampage.
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