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Echoes of Combat

Trauma, Memory, and the Vietnam War

2001
Author:

Fred Turner

Echoes of Combat

Private trauma and public memory in pop culture images of Vietnam, in a newly updated edition.

Using psychological trauma as its guiding metaphor, Echoes of Combat is the first book to explore the parallels between the healing of Vietnam veterans and Americans’ collective recovery from the war. With such diverse sources as film, books, television, political speeches, monuments, medical texts, veterans’ testimonies, and the men’s movement, Turner shows how the healing narratives of individuals have allowed us to transform our recollections of American aggression in Vietnam into tales of national sacrifice.

Fred Turner’s focus in the Vietnam War. Drawing on sociology and communications, his most provocative readings involve well-known films such as Taxi Driver (1976) and Star Wars (1977). Turner has a nuanced understanding of the way successive histories and conflicts overlap, and he makes selective but effective forays into group psuchology and psychoanalysis; fantasy, misogyny, and perversion are key terms in his discussion.

Canadian Literature

Using psychological trauma as its guiding metaphor, Echoes of Combat is the first book to explore the parallels between the healing of Vietnam veterans and Americans’ collective recovery from the war. With such diverse sources as film, books, television, political speeches, monuments, medical texts, veterans’ testimonies, and the men’s movement, Turner shows how the healing narratives of individuals have allowed us to transform our recollections of American aggression in Vietnam into tales of national sacrifice.

Echoes of Combat

Fred Turner has been a freelance reporter and critic since 1986. His features have appeared in The Progressive, The Chicago Tribune, and The Boston Phoenix. He has taught at the John F. Kennedy School of Government and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He lives in Watertown, Massachusetts.

Echoes of Combat

Fred Turner’s focus in the Vietnam War. Drawing on sociology and communications, his most provocative readings involve well-known films such as Taxi Driver (1976) and Star Wars (1977). Turner has a nuanced understanding of the way successive histories and conflicts overlap, and he makes selective but effective forays into group psuchology and psychoanalysis; fantasy, misogyny, and perversion are key terms in his discussion.

Canadian Literature

A carefully considered and intelligent attempt to interpret the war’s aftermath.

Publishers Weekly

Echoes of Combat is a fascinating examination of how the Vietnam War affected the American psyche. Using the literature and films on the war, as well as the memory of veterans themselves, Fred Turner reaches complex and sometimes surprising conclusions about healing the wounds left by an ugly episode in the nation's history.

Howard Zinn

Do not mistake Echoes of Combat for yet another pedestrian survey of Vietnam images in popular culture. Whether the subject is crazed vets or the Vietnam Memorial Wall, Fred Turner writes splendidly about the disintegration of morality in the Vietnam War, about the return of the repressed, about America’s failure to ‘put the war behind us’ even while purporting to do just that. An important book on the war’s disowned legacy.

Todd Gitlin