PRINT December 1987



IT HAS BEEN AS THOUGH the Vietnam war had been on stage again recently, on television, in the print media, and above all in movie theaters, as it was once almost ten years ago, in that war’s aftermath, when The Deer Hunter, 1978, and Apocalypse Now, 1979, dispensed their strange tortured fantasies, huge and rugged and difficult. In those films directors Michael Cimino and Francis Ford Coppola avoided many of the conventions of the Hollywood war-movie genre based primarily on World War II, suggesting in doing so that the reception of the Vietnam war was recognized as being different from the American public’s fantasies of other faraway wars. By being unbreakably tough, intolerably bitter, and irremediably itself, the Vietnam war would stick in America’s throat as a new kind of war-to-end-all-wars—the war we had lost, and the war that had revealed the falsity of war. In search of the war’s

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