Vietnam and Other American Fantasies

Front Cover
Univ of Massachusetts Press, 2001 - History - 256 pages

There is now fairly widespread acknowledgment that the Vietnam War shattered many of the traditional narratives central to formerly prevailing vision of the United States and its history. Some people regret this and seek to restore old narratives that they consider essential to a unifying national identity, but their mighty efforts are unlikely to put Humpty Dumpty together again. Others see this shattering as a liberation from dangerous illusions, a wake-up call that forced millions of Americans toward more truthful and beneficial narratives about American history and culture. There is a third view, one that has gained considerable influence in intellectual circles, that sees any "master narrative" or "meta-narrative"--or, for that matter, any coherently structured narrative--as a socially constructed fantasy that radically falsifies the fragmentary, conflicted, and de-centered character of social experience. Although in this book the author does not engage in overt arguments about narrative theory, he does operate from a theoretical position that highly values narratives, especially coherently structures narratives--including some forms of fantasy--as crucial to comprehending, within our human limits, human reality.


What people are saying - Write a review

Vietnam and other American fantasies

User Review  - Not Available - Book Verdict

A former antiwar activist and author of M.I.A. or Mythmaking in America, Franklin (English and American studies, Rutgers) offers an all-inclusive cultural history of the Vietnam War and its continuing ... Read full review

User Review - Flag as inappropriate

Farina's excellent volume is perhaps one of the most thorough analyses of the current state of the art of Landscape Ecology in a single volume. Himself a renowned professor and theoretician, Farina begins his book by guiding his reader through the history of Landscape Ecology, all the way from early geography to modern theories of biosemiotics and perceptual landscapes. While Farina himself is a European scientist at the University of Urbino in Italy, he appears to have a comprehensive understanding of both the European and the American perspectives. This understanding becomes apparent in Farina's ability to reconcile Europe's more pragmatic approach with America's more theoretical emphasis by identifying the common epistemological principles and integrating them into complete paradigms.
Farina's Eco-Field theory, also described in the text, uses the "Umwelt" concept known in semiotics to link individual species and organisms to the landscape. The text also describes traditional theories such as percolation, hierarchy and metapopulations. Each chapter concludes with a large list references for more information on any of the topics covered, and almost all the examples used are from real studies.
I would strongly recommend this book to anyone who is either beginning to explore Landscape Ecology or who wishes to improve his or her understanding of the field. Bear in mind that this book does not make for light reading, however. Many of the concepts and principles described are somewhat complex and, while Farina does a very good job of breaking them down into comprehensible ideas, the reader may have to expend a fair bit of effort on understanding some of the ideas. Occasional grammatical errors will occur, as well, as Farina chose to make this text accessible to the international community by writing it in English instead of his native Italian. These errors are generally very minor, however, and unavoidable, as English is complex enough to confuse even native speakers. Moreover, any effort made by the reader will be readily rewarded by the depth of insight and the richness of the content that this book provides.

Selected pages


on Differing Perceptions of Reality
From Realism to Virtual Reality IMAGES OF AMERICAS WARS
Plausibility of Denial
The Antiwar Movement We Are Supposed to Forget
1968 or Bringing the War Home
The Vietnam War and the Culture Wars or the Perils of Western Civilization
Star Trek and Kicking the Vietnam Syndrome
The Vietnam War as American Science Fiction and Fantasy
Missing in Action in the Twentyfirst Century

Other editions - View all

Common terms and phrases

Popular passages

Page 9 - When Hank does initiate this instantaneous push-button war, “in that explosion all our noble civilization-factories went up in the air and disappeared from the earth” (476). Beyond an electrified fence, the technowarriors have prepared a forty-foot-wide belt of land mines. The
Page 9 - by the logic of war, the common people are turned into automatons “dispersed to the places allotted them when not at the guns,” and the final image is of a sterile, lifeless, inorganic mass of “smooth white marble.”

About the author (2001)

H. Bruce Franklin is the John Cotton Dana Professor of English and American Studies at Rutgers University in Newark. Among his books are M.I.A. or Myth-making in America and War Stars: The Superweapon and the American Imagination.

Bibliographic information