Nation: Viet Nam Comes Home

Two winning films signal the struggle to learn from a lost war

Englishmen who fought at Ypres and the Somme carried the Oxford Book of English Verse in their haversacks; such literary brigades in the trenches would find their minds chiming with a line of Keats, or William Dunbar's Timor Mortis Conturbat Me. The Americans in Viet Nam usually packed more kinetic cultural effects. Images given them over the years by movies and television would sometimes unreel in their brains as they moved toward a tree line or a Vietnamese village, and in bizarre...

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