Vietnam and “The War at Home”

  • Van Gosse


The scale of the Vietnam War made it an issue no one could avoid. The antiwar movement was able to link up disparate constituencies of the New Left, providing a center and a common language, because it alone could reach into every American home, neighborhood, town, city, and suburb. Though the fighting was done mostly by poor and working-class “grunts,” 2.5 million young men (and several thousand young women) of every class, color, and region served in Vietnam. More than 153,000 were wounded and over 58,000 died, shipped home in bodybags that became the symbol of the war’s cost. The war was fought to contain communism and revolution anywhere and everywhere, but its major impact at home was to break the Cold War’s quarantine of militant radicalism. Eventually, the United States itself was no longer “contained,” as the war destroyed the presidencies of the two preeminent Cold War presidents, Lyndon Johnson and Richard Nixon.


Democratic Party Black Panther Party Peace Movement Racial Resentment Reserve Officer Training Corps 
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A Selected Bibliography

  1. The only study of the antiwar movement that is both comprehensive and measured is Charles DeBenedetti, withGoogle Scholar
  2. Charles Chatfield, An American Ordeal: The Antiwar Movement of the Vietnam Era (Syracuse, NY: Syracuse University Press, 1990). Anyone seeking to understand its Byzantine inner politics should read the narrative of the Socialist Workers Party leaderGoogle Scholar
  3. Fred Halstead, Out Now! A Participant’s Account of the American Movement Against the Vietnam War (New York: Pathfinder, 1978). Otherwise, I foundGoogle Scholar
  4. David Farber, Chicago’ 68 (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1988) very helpful in getting at how the movement’s different wings understood and portrayed themselves at a particularly dramatic moment.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Specific sectors within the antiwar movement have their own historians. The Catholic Left is best approached viaGoogle Scholar
  6. Charles Meconis, With Clumsy Grace: The American Catholic Left, 1961–1975 (New York: Seabury Press, 1979), though much more scholarship is needed.Google Scholar
  7. Mitchell K. Hall, Because of Their Faith: CALCAV and Religious Opposition to the Vietnam War (New York: Columbia University Press, 1990) examines another form of religious dissent. The movement within the military and among veterans has several effective chroniclers, including Richard Moser, The New Winter Soldiers: GI and Veteran Dissent During the Vietnam Era (New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 1996), andGoogle Scholar
  8. Andrew Hunt, The Turning: A History of Vietnam Veterans Against the War (New York: New York University Press, 1999). The turn to vio-lent resistance is covered inGoogle Scholar
  9. Ron Jacobs, The Way the Wind Blew: A History of the Weather Underground (London: Verso, 1997). More recently, Jeremy Varon has added a useful compara-tive emphasis, in Bringing the War Home: the Weather Underground, the Red Army Faction, and Revolutionary Violence in the Sixties and Seventies (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2004). Most recent and of particular importance isGoogle Scholar
  10. Michael S. Foley, Confronting the War Machine: Draft Resistance During the Vietnam War (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2003).Google Scholar

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© Van Gosse 2005

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  • Van Gosse

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