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Vietnam At The Movies

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”Vietnam Vietnam Vietnam,” wrote Michael Herr in Dispatches, ”we’ve all been there.” Nowhere is that more true than in movies touching on the Vietnam War, which brought that conflict into the theater the same way TV brought it into the living room. There’s never been, until now, a comprehensive catalog of those films about the war. Michael Lee Lanning’s book Vietnam At The Movies fills a void we didn’t even know was there, and he provides a coherent explanation of how the American war movie evolved before and after Vietnam. It would have been almost enough to present synopses of the nearly 400 films in an encyclopedic format, with names, titles, and dates. Lanning, a former Army lieutenant colonel, goes even further, placing these movies in a historical perspective, and viewing them — from Hair to Apocalypse Now to Platoon — in the wider context of America’s changing world role and its changing politics at home. His biting and often humorous analysis makes sense of how such movies reflected, and influenced, turbulent times. A-