Persuasive and carefully documented, the book does a particularly good job of demonstrating how the juvenile fictional world of Vietnam varies from historical reality....Anyone interested in the Vietnam War, American cultural memory, or contemporary juvenile fiction will find this book a thoughtful reading experience. (Choice
A powerful, in-depth study. (Knowledge Quest
...an important introduction to the era...clearly presented...recommended for established collections and library school students. (Professional Reviews
Twenty-eight young adult novels addressing the Vietnam War, published between 1967 and 1997, are discussed in the context of the current culture war between conservatives and progressives to define American values and interpret American history. (Reference And Research Book News
Unencumbered by History
is an in-depth study of twenty-eight young adult novels published between 1967 and 1997 about the Vietnam war. The novels touch on all aspects of the war, dealing with issues from a number of well-considered perspectives. The novels are divided into categories depending upon their subject matter and approach. One category addresses actual combat in Vietnam from the perspective of drafted infantrymen, nurses, and the Vietnamese themselves. A second group of novels is set in America during the war and focus on the antiwar movement and potential draftees and enlistees. The third group of novels concerns the experiences of returned Vietnam veterans.
Overstreet frames her discussion in the context of the current culture war between conservatives and progressives who are battling (among other things) to define what it means to be an American. Part of this culture war involves the presentation and interpretation of national history. As one of the most significant events in 20th-century American history, the meaning of Vietnam is in hot dispute and the novels Overstreet includes are ideological salvos in a war of interpretation. Overstreet analyzes them in terms of the three primary schools of Vietnam historiography, American cultural war myths, and the specific representation of the participants in the conflict.