Until a few weeks ago, Americans enjoyed a comforting illusion: the feeling that Viet Nam and all its horrors had somehow gone away for good. To be sure, the shells were still being fired and the countryside wasted, but Vietnamese were now fighting Vietnamese. The memories of a divided America, the alienation of the young, the riots and marches, the massacres and courts-martial—for many, these were still alive and bitter. But the U.S. had finally extricated itself from a war that had traumatized American society for a whole generation.

Then, with stunning suddenness, the war burst upon the U.S. all over again....

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