1968: The Global Revolutions

Combat Zone: Vietnam > Publishing About the War

Novels, nonfiction, reportage, and endless official studies traced the long U.S. engagement with Vietnam. Fictional accounts ranged from Graham Greene’s Quiet American, written presciently at the very start of America’s preoccupation with Southeast Asia, to the brutal and magical realism of the novels of Tim O’Brien – who was himself a combat veteran. Few publications, however, did more than the “Pentagon Papers” to influence critical understandings of the conflict. Consisting of several confidential Defense Department reports, the papers revealed that the U.S. government had long known that the war in Vietnam could not be won. The documents had been secretly copied page by page and then leaked to the press by Daniel Ellsberg, a military analyst who had turned against the war. Richard Nixon’s unsuccessful attempt to stop the publication of the Pentagon Papers became a milestone controversy in First Amendment history.

Greene, Graham
The Quiet American, 1955

O'Brien, Tim
If I Die in a Combat Zone, 1973

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