Wisconsin Vietnam War Stories: Our Veterans Remember

By Sarah A. Larsen and Jennifer M. Miller; Introduction by Jeremi Suri; Foreword by Kenneth B. Black, Secretary, Department of Veterans Affairs

Paperback: $24.95

ISBN: 978-0-87020-448-7

376 pages, 180 b/w photos, 8 maps, 8 x 9"


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A companion book to the documentary produced by Wisconsin Public Television, "Wisconsin Vietnam War Stories" showcases 40 first-person stories from those who fought in America's longest war. From barely-legal sons of Wisconsin to seasoned soldiers, the men and women in these pages make up a diverse collection of voices: an army chaplain who led services at Khe Sanh but never picked up a weapon; identical twin brothers who discover they are stationed at the same South Vietnam base; a Hmong refugee who fought the Secret War at age 12 in the jungles of Laos and later moved to Milwaukee; two prisoners of war whose years in captivity total almost 14; a Medal of Honor recipient; and dozens more.

The stories in these pages expand beyond the borders of the war to include personal accounts of the events leading up to it, as well as the experiences of veterans as they return home to civilian life at the height of antiwar protest. Supported by original maps, photographs from the veterans' own collections, historical chapter introductions, biographies, and a comprehensive "honor roll" of Wisconsin-born soldiers who died or remain missing, "Wisconsin Vietnam War Stories" is an unforgettable collection and lasting tribute to our veterans.

The Wisconsin Vietnam War Stories project is a partnership of the Wisconsin Department of Veterans Affairs, the Wisconsin Historical Society and Wisconsin Public Televsion. This project includes the "Wisconsin Vietnam War Stories" Documentary Film.

To receive a review copy or press release, to schedule an author event, or for more information contact the WHS Press Marketing Department: whspress@wisconsinhistory.org.

Sarah A. Larsen is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Madison, works in the History Unit of Wisconsin Public Television, and in 2008 coauthored "Wisconsin Korean War Stories" with Jennifer M. Miller. For this volume Larsen transformed the raw transcripts of veteran interviews into a comprehensive, book-length format. Sarah lives with her family in Madison.

Jennifer M. Miller has worked as a teacher and lecturer for the University of Wisconsin-Madison History Department from which she received her master's degree in 2005. An expert in U.S. foreign relations with East Asia during the Cold War, she is writing a Ph.D. dissertation on U.S.-Japanese relations during the 1950s, and has been published in Reviews in History. The recipient of a Fulbright Fellowship, Jennifer is currently living in Tokyo for research.

They are also the authors of "Wisconsin Korean War Stories: Veterans Tell Their Stories from the Forgotten War."

What Are The Real Lessons from the Vietnam War?

This lecture will examine the enduring legacies of the Vietnam War for American society. Professor Suri will trace how the war continues to influence domestic politics, foreign policy, and popular culture. What have we learned in the thirty-five years since the end of the Vietnam War? Professor Suri will address the most important historical lessons for American society in a troubled twenty-first century world.

Click here to watch the video

2011 National Indie Excellence Awards
Finalist in the Military Nonfiction Category

2011 Next Generation Indie Book Awards
Winner in the Military Category

2011 USA National Best Book Awards
Finalist in the History: Military/Politcal Category

"A rich and powerful collection of voices that gives us a moving history of the Vietnam War. These stories take us back to that tumultuous time, but also make us think hard about today. Clearly one of the best oral histories of the war and its aftermath." —Robert K. Brigham, author of "Iraq, Vietnam, and the Limits of American Power"

"The experiences related in this volume span the Vietnam War from its real beginning in the 1950s to its disastrous end twenty years later. Its range goes beyond the usual collection of Vietnam War stories, including memories of Saigon in the early days of the Diem regime, prisoners of war in Hanoi, Hmong fighters on the Lao border. A sober warning against military intervention, it makes painful, if necessary reading in this time of ongoing wars of equal futility." —Marilyn B. Young, author of "The Vietnam Wars, 1945–1990"

"'Wisconsin Vietnam War Stories' is one of the very best oral histories of the Vietnam War. These veterans' heartfelt recollections make the reader feel, smell, and taste what life was like for ordinary young Americans sent to fight thousands of miles from home." —Robert D. Schulzinger, author of "A Time for War: The United States and Vietnam, 1941-1975"

"The testimonies of these Wisconsin veterans confront us with the hard realities of our longest and most wrenching foreign war and may, if we listen, help us toward the full reckoning we've yet to achieve." —Christian G. Appy, author of "Patriots: The Vietnam War Remembered From All Sides"

"'Wisconsin Vietnam War Stories' is a poignant and painful account of the nation's most divisive war as seen through the eyes of 40 Wisconsin Vietnam veterans. From the U.S. advisory role to the French in the 1950s, to the brutal combat at Khe Sanh and Hue in the late 1960s, to the arduous ordeal of POWs, this oral history touches a nerve that needs to be stirred. While we can't bring back the 1,239 Wisconsin fathers, brothers, sons, uncles, friends and neighbors who died during the war, we can open our hearts to the 140,000 who are still among us. And thank them, too, for their service and sacrifice. You will be deeply moved by their powerful stories." —Veteran Doug Bradley, Information Office, USARV–Long Binh, 1970–1971

"Thanks to this wonderful collection, we are able to discover previously untold stories of combat, camaraderie, and the challenges of dealing with wartime experiences. Strength, sorrow, triumph and tragedy: this powerful book has it all. It is a timeless testament to Wisconsin’s fighting men and women." —Retired Brigadier General Andrew M. Schuster, Administrator, Division of Veterans Services, Wisconsin Department of Veterans Affairs

"Each one of us Vietnam veterans was just a part of a multi-million piece puzzle. When you put all the pieces together you begin to understand that our own personal time, places and events were a rather minor event! Taken all together it was just one huge struggle that we all had to survive and come back to 'The World.' This book shows the enormity of that puzzle called 'Vietnam.'... To the Wisconsin Vietnam veterans interviewed I say thank you for your service and welcome home. I'm proud to have served with you all." —Veteran Donald Thies, B Company, 2/506th, 101st Airborne, 1970–1971

"An old TV police drama began with 'here are eight million stories in the naked city.' As this book shows there were three million stories in Vietnam. Whether they were drafted or enlisted, came from the city or the farm, served on land or on water, were there in '65 or '69, every veteran has a different story to tell. This book covers the gamut. Vietnam veterans should read this book because it will help fill in their gaps in the history of the war. If there is a common theme throughout their stories, it is that these veterans were treated very poorly upon their return home and many still suffer today from this maltreatment. Hopefully, by illuminating this sad chapter in American history we can ensure that it will never happen again and that all future veterans will be welcomed home with open arms." John Rowan, President and CEO, Vietnam Veterans of America