The war at home
Family, gender and post-colonial issues in three Vietnam War texts
in Gender and warfare in the twentieth century
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This chapter examines Vietnam through the post-colonial observer, J. M. Coetzee; the colonised, Le Ly Hayslip; and the one-time American soldier, Oliver Stone. Coetzee ensures that the reader is suspicious of suburban mythographer Eugene Dawn's reading of familial psychology. Like Coetzee, Stone was burdened by history and nation, and by gender and family, on public display during the film's making and release as his second marriage broke up. Hayslip's descriptions of the Vietnam War contrast starkly with Dawn's neurotically neat reading, and with Lyndon Johnson's simple image of family that stands behind it. Stone, known for personal engagement with issues in his films, made Heaven and Earth as a soldier, a father and a man, something elliptically recognised in Hayslip's lionising of him. Stone's film exemplifies the problems of responding to a text like Hayslip's, complicated by his own status as a combatant in Vietnam.

Editor: Angela K. Smith


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