Paper Soldiers: The American Press and the Vietnam War

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University of Chicago Press, 1993 - History - 272 pages
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Ever since the end of the Vietnam War twenty years ago, many have held as an article of faith the idea that America's long and tragic war effort in Vietnam fell victim to a hostile press - a group of reporters and broadcasters ideologically opposed to U.S. involvement and determined to show its worst side in print and on television. This brilliantly researched and beautifully written book shatters that idea. By looking at twenty years' worth of newspaper, magazine, and television coverage of the war, and examining previously unused government and military documents, the author has reached a contrarian conclusion - that from nearly the war's beginning to its end, the U.S. government successfully manipulated the press to its own ends. From the government's side, the motivation was clear. As the Cold War heated up after World War II and the Iron Curtain descended across Europe, a curtain of secrecy descended on the United States. The threat from the Soviet Union justified, in the minds of American leaders, lying to the public and press on a shocking, unprecedented scale. This practice reached full flower in Vietnam, suppressing the bad news and emphasizing, even inventing, the good. The press realized it was being had, and though it protested occasionally, it was powerless to do much about this new secrecy. The press was not motivated by ideology, but instead by the professional demands of journalism. More than anything else, reporters needed a story, and in national security matters especially, that meant depending on government and military sources. By the time of Vietnam, U.S. officials had figured this out, and used the press's own characteristics to control it. The tension inherent inthis policy is at the center of this story. It is a story with a big cast of characters - reporters such as Peter Arnett, Morley Safer, David Halberstam, Neil Sheehan, and Joseph Alsop; government and military leaders like William Westmoreland, Dean Rusk, and Robert McNamara; an
 

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Paper soldiers: the American press and the Vietnam War

User Review  - Not Available - Book Verdict

For two decades and more, "conventional wisdom'' has been that the American press was a major factor in the U.S. failure in Vietnam. Simply put, author Wyatt (history, Centre Coll.) demolishes that ... Read full review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - karinehart - LibraryThing

An interesting and compelling look at one of the aspects of Vietnam that few people explore closely enough - a great read for any history buff. Read full review

Contents

A Different Kind of World The Cold War and Secret Government
13
Managing the News The Press Public Information and Foreign Policy in the Kennedy Years
24
Dramatize the Truth Coverage of Vietnam 195560
51
In Country The Press Comes to Vietnam 196162
77
Let Them Burn The Buddhist Crisis of 1963
99
Get on the Team The End of Diem
114
I Dont Know Explaining the War 196467
128
Fighting in the Open Sources and the Story 196467
150
Buddha Will Understand The Crisis of Confidence 196768
165
No More Bodies Turning Away from Vietnam 196975
189
Conclusion
216
Acknowledgments
220
Notes
223
Bibliography
262
Index
267
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About the author (1993)

Clarence R. Wyatt is Associate Professor of History at Centre College in Danville, Ky. He is the author of Paper Soldiers: The American Press and the Vietnam War (1993).

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