Re-Membering and Surviving

In honor of Veteran's Day, this week's review explores African American fiction of the Vietnam War. What do these works reveal about cultural memory, war ethics, and American war literature?

Re-Membering and Surviving: African American Fiction of the Vietnam War

Hanshaw, Shirley A. J. Michigan State, 2021
307p bibl index, 9781611863710 $39.95, 9781609176457 $39.95

Re-Membering and Surviving: African American Fiction of the Vietnam War book cover

With the exception of Bloods: An Oral History of the Vietnam War, ed. by Wallace Terry (CH, Dec’84), scholarship on African American writing on the Vietnam War is in short supply. In Re-membering and Survival Hanshaw (emer., Mississippi State Univ.)​ unveils a veritable archive of African American writing on the subject and provides a road map of genres from fiction to memoir, from poetry to drama, and from film to music (for the first time). Hanshaw focuses on the thematic patterns and aesthetic strategies of four novels, John Williams’s Captain Blackman (1972), A. R. Flowers’s De Mojo Blues (1986), Wesley Brown’s Tragic Magic (1978), and George Davis’s Coming Home (1972), which deal with, respectively, the reenlisted man, the conscientious objector, the dishonorably discharged veteran, and the deserter. Hanshaw situates these texts in their specific social political contexts and the traditions of (African) American literature. Joining scholarship that is bringing new attention to war ethics, the memory industry, critical refugee studies, and environmental critiques, this work contributes significantly to the expanding field of Vietnam War literature and culture studies globally.

Summing Up: Highly recommended. Upper-division undergraduates through faculty; general readers.
Y. Shu, Texas Tech University
Interdisciplinary Subjects: African and African American Studies
Subject: Humanities – Language & Literature – English & American
Choice Issue: Sep 2021

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