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The Vietnam War: A Graphic History


The Vietnam War: A Graphic History

Written by Dwight Jon Zimmerman and Chuck Horner, illustrated by Wayne Vansant

My middle name is Michael, a name given to honor a fallen cousin, a brave man who died months before I was born. I never knew the Michael whose name I bear, and in truth, I never really knew the Vietnam War until now. Like every child of the ’70s, I knew of it, about it, the basics. It cast a long shadow over everything. Friends with younger parents than mine even occasionally had fathers who had served, but the only constant among them was that none of them ever talked about it.
That’s a truth acknowledged near the end of The Vietnam War: A Graphic History, the new --- and utterly gripping --- account from writer Dwight Jon Zimmerman and illustrator Wayne Vansant. “At first, when the war ended,” Zimmerman writes, “a collective amnesia appeared to take hold of Americans. For years, it seemed no one wanted to remember anything about the war.”
All these years later, Zimmerman and Vansant have remembered, and they’ve culled the overwhelming mountain of information about the war into an accurate and accessible book. Just a little over 140 pages, the book manages the complex (and seemingly impossible) feat of being both compact and yet comprehensively thorough. Beginning with the story of America’s first real involvement with Vietnam in 1950 --- the opening portion of the book is entitled Commitment, and it comes quickly on the heels of an introduction from Gen. Chuck Horner (Ret.) that explains that the United States-led fighting coalition was committed but not dedication --- The Vietnam War explains just what ensued over the next two decades, just how the country gained that commitment and what it did with it, and why and how it threatened to tear the country apart.
Vansant, himself a Navy veteran of the war, illustrates with the authenticity of someone who’s been there. The art is most often not sequential; instead, it matches up with the text and illustrates the history of the war. In this way, it’s like a textbook recounting of the war, but that’s meant as a compliment. It’s a studied and engaging portrait of the war. It doesn’t need a sequential-art narrative to capture the reader.
I’m guessing that a lot of readers will engage with the text in the same way.

Reviewed by John Hogan on September 15, 2009

The Vietnam War: A Graphic History
Written by Dwight Jon Zimmerman and Chuck Horner, illustrated by Wayne Vansant

  • Publication Date: September 15, 2009
  • Genres: Graphic Novel
  • Hardcover: 160 pages
  • Publisher: Hill and Wang
  • ISBN-10: 0809094959
  • ISBN-13: 9780809094950