Over the last year or so, I wrote about Garry Trudeau’s coverage of the Vietnam war in Doonesbury. Trudeau broke new ground in mainstream comic strips by using satire to draw attention to the atrocities committed by the United States in pursuit of its war aims and by introducing a sympathetic enemy character in Phred … Continue reading Comics Review: Clément Baloup’s Mémoires de Viet Kieu
In 1984, I was a first-year student at John Abbott College in suburban Montreal. In my last year of high school, I had heard about a John Abbott English teacher named Rod Smith, who taught a course titled “The Vision and the Apocalypse," which focused on books and films that came out of, or dealt … Continue reading The Duke Chronicles, Part I. “That Place Where the Wave Finally Broke and Rolled Back”: Reconciling Duke and Hunter S. Thompson.
America’s disengagement from a brutal, unpopular, and ultimately failed war in Vietnam began in 1969 with Richard Nixon’s announcement of his policy of “Vietnamization.” The 1973 Paris Peace Accords marked the end of America’s formal commitment to fighting in Vietnam; the war finally ended on 30 April 1975 with the fall of Saigon to North … Continue reading Vietnam, the Aftermath. Part IV: “Explain My Wound to Me.”
A common trope in the popular memory of the American experience of the Vietnam war is that when American soldiers returned home, they were scorned by the anti-war generation for being “baby-killers” complicit in mass atrocity. As one Vietnam veteran writes: “Vietnam vets were a bit crushed coming home. We were not honored, but were … Continue reading Vietnam, the Aftermath. Part III: Skip and the Myth of the “Baby-Killing” Vietnam Vet
Vietnam remains America’s most divisive foreign war and the divides it caused shaped American politics and culture for decades after the fall of Saigon. Alongside questions about its rationale for getting involved in a senseless endeavour that was doomed to fail and its conduct during the war, a key question that America had to confront … Continue reading Vietnam, the Aftermath: Part II, “Stuffed inside the Spare Tire Compartment of a Volvo.” The Draft Dodgers.
When we last checked in with Phred the Viet Cong terrorist, we saw how, after B.D.’s time in Vietnam, Garry Trudeau used Phred’s experience of the war to comment on some of the conflict’s most horrific dimensions, notably the slaughter of civilians from the relative safety of thirty thousand feet. We also have seen how … Continue reading Doonesbury Goes to War, Part V: Traded to Laos.
Welcome back. Last time out, I began writing about how Garry Trudeau addressed the immediate aftermath of the Vietnam war, looking at the experience of Kim and other refugees from Vietnam and Cambodia. The second part of that series is going to look at the ways in which two soldiers, Phred and B.D., adjusted to … Continue reading Doonesbury Goes to War, Part IV: Phred, B.D. and the Heartless Air Pirates.
Grandpa pissed his pants again He don't give a damn Brother Billy has both guns drawn He ain't been right since Vietnam -- Warren Zevon, “Play it All Night Long.” On 30 April 1975, the last Americans and some of their South Vietnamese allies were evacuated from the United States embassy compound as Saigon – … Continue reading Vietnam, the Aftermath: Part I, the Refugees.
In previous posts, I’ve written about how Garry Trudeau framed the Vietnam war and American militarism more generally in the early years of Doonesbury, culminating in B.D.’s decision to enlist and fight in Vietnam. In those posts, I noted a shift in how GBT wrote about war and the military in the strip’s early years, … Continue reading Doonesbury Goes to War, Part III: Phred.
In my last “Long Strange Trip” post, way back in October, I wrote about B.D.’s time in ROTC. Those strips made me reevaluate how I thought about how Garry Trudeau wrote about war. I had remembered GBT’s Vietnam-era strips as being lighthearted and goofy in comparison to the grittier and darker approach that he took … Continue reading Look! Rice Paddies!: Doonesbury Goes to War, Part II. Vietnam, 1972