Until the Last Man Comes Home: POWs, MIAs, and the Unending Vietnam War

Front Cover
Univ of North Carolina Press, Sep 18, 2009 - History - 448 pages
1 Review
Fewer Americans were captured or missing during the Vietnam War than in any previous major military conflict in U.S. history. Yet despite their small numbers, American POWs inspired an outpouring of concern that slowly eroded support for the war. Michael J. Allen reveals how wartime loss transformed U.S. politics well before, and long after, the war's official end.

Throughout the war's last years and in the decades since, Allen argues, the effort to recover lost warriors was as much a means to establish responsibility for their loss as it was a search for answers about their fate. Though millions of Americans and Vietnamese took part in that effort, POW and MIA families and activists dominated it. Insisting that the war was not over "until the last man comes home," this small, determined group turned the unprecedented accounting effort against those they blamed for their suffering. Allen demonstrates that POW/MIA activism prolonged the hostility between the United States and Vietnam even as the search for the missing became the basis for closer ties between the two countries in the 1990s. Equally important, he explains, POW/MIA families' disdain for the antiwar left and contempt for federal authority fueled the conservative ascendancy after 1968. Mixing political, cultural, and diplomatic history, Until the Last Man Comes Home presents the full and lasting impact of the Vietnam War in ways that are both familiar and surprising.


What people are saying - Write a review

Until the Last Man Comes Home: POWs, MIAs, and the Unending Vietnam War

User Review  - Not Available - Book Verdict

While there is no shortage of works on the Vietnam War, Allen (history, Northwestern Univ.) has managed to make a valuable, even unique, contribution to the field. Allen does a skillful job of ... Read full review

User Review - Flag as inappropriate

I don't know who you are, but, I must challenge at least one grand lie you have in your book. My name is Kay Bosiljevac-Schneider, and you have stated that I, and Ann Hart, claimed we signed over all of the pay and allowences to the Defense Department. And, that I later "confessed" that we signed a blank piece of paper. No such claim was ever made. You sir are a liar. Why did you say such a thing? 


INTRODUCATION The Politics of Loss
The Construction of Loss
The Limits of Homecoming
A Short History of Oblivion
The Persistence of the Past
Life after Death
Resurrection and Retribution
The Ambiguity of Recovery
CONCLUSION This Thing Has Consumed American Politics for Years

Other editions - View all

Common terms and phrases

About the author (2009)

Michael J. Allen is associate professor of history at Northwestern University.

Bibliographic information