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Bringing It All Back Home

An Oral History of New York City's Vietnam Veterans

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Description

A collection of heartrending oral histories that topples assumptions about the people who served in Vietnam

The Vietnam War was a defining event for a generation of Americans. But for years, misguided and sometimes demeaning clichés about its veterans have proliferated widely. Philip F. Napoli's Bringing It All Back Home strips away the myths and reveals the complex individuals who served in Southeast Asia. Napoli was one of the chief researchers for Tom Brokaw's The Greatest Generation, and in the spirit of that enterprise, his oral histories recast our understanding of a war and its legacy.

Napoli introduces a remarkable group of young New Yorkers who went abroad with high hopes only to find a bewildering conflict. We meet a nurse who staged a hunger strike to promote peace while working at a field hospital; a paratrooper whose experiences on the battlefield left him with emotional scars that led to violence and homelessness; a black soldier who achieved an unexpected camaraderie with his fellow servicemen in racially tense times; and a university administrator who helped to create New York City's Vietnam Veterans Memorial. Some of Napoli's soldiers became active opponents of the war; others did not. But all returned with a powerful urge to understand the death and destruction they had seen. Overcoming adversity, a great many would go on to lead ambitious lives of public service. Tracing their journeys from the streets of Brooklyn and Queens to the banks of the Mekong, and back to the most glamorous corporations and meanest homeless shelters of New York City, Napoli reveals the variety and surprising vibrancy of the ex-soldiers' experiences. "For almost everyone the time in Vietnam was the most exciting and the most alive time of your life," one veteran recalls. He adds: "I still have this little trick . . . When I lie down and go to sleep, if there's something bothering me, I say, ‘You're warm, you're dry, and there is no one shooting at you.'"

From Publishers Weekly

Jan 14, 2013 – Napoli, an assistant professor of U.S. history at Brooklyn College (where he also directs the Veterans Oral History Project), uses the life-story technique to good effect in this worthy oral history. Beginning in 2004, Napoli spent six years conducting extensive interviews with more than 200 Vietnam vets who either grew up in New York City or who currently live there. The result of those 600 hours of recordings is a readable chronicle that uses the personal histories of the soldiers (in the interviewees transcribed words) to tell the human story of the American war in Vietnam. To its credit, the book reads like a series of informal biographical sketches fleshed out with bigger-picture insights, supplemented further by the smooth interweaving of Napoli s commentary and narrative padding. But the author and his subjects take pains to present more than just stories of battle, including rich accounts of the lives of the men before they went to war and after they returned home. While some of the combatants stories are New York City specific, the bulk of them mirror the experiences of Vietnam vets from across the nation. The book is a welcome addition to the Vietnam War oral history literary canon.
Bringing It All Back Home
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  • $9.99
  • Available on iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, and Mac.
  • Category: Military
  • Published: Jun 11, 2013
  • Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
  • Seller: Macmillan
  • Print Length: 272 Pages
  • Language: English
  • Requirements: This book can only be viewed on an iOS device with Apple Books on iOS 12 or later, iBooks 1.3.1 or later and iOS 4.3.3 or later, or a Mac with iBooks 1.0 or later and OS X 10.9 or later.

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