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A Book Review: "No Victory Parades"
NO VICTORY PARADES: The Return of The Vietnam Veterans by Murray Polner
(Holt, Pinehart and Winston) $5.95 169 pp. April, 1971
There are now nearly as many books on the war in Vietnam as there were Americans at war ten years ago in Vietnam. Most of these books are irrelevant and academic as the "debates" they allegedly hold on the war in the Pentagon.
NO VICTORY PARADES, like the Winter Soldier Investigation and the week VVAW "occupied" the mall sweeps aside the cobwebs of this interminable babble like a blast of cold air. The "experts" in this book are all veterans of the war: selected from over 200 former EM and junior officers Korean war vet Murray Polner (a sociologist) interviewed from 1967-1970. As an early VVAW project, it was the first professional, book-length study of the anger, attitudes and personal anguish of the Vietnam vet of the war.
Though somewhat dated--because of the recent dramatic disclosures of drug problems, rampant AWOLs and desertions (one out of every ten EM under the rank of staff sergeant in the army last year: DOD statistics), and unemployment--still is the bets study available. The range of interviews spans "hawks", "doves", and what Polner calls the "haunted". As the interviews show, all feel betrayed.
Polner's particular contribution is to try to put all this into perspective. As an indication of how perceptive is his thought, there is one selection: "Many of the (vets) had come from nothing to nothing, in a war they later discovered had not one single idea they could grasp... and be ready to die for. Vietnam was their fantasy world, but the reality was their return to America."
Be it noted also that Murray Polner, nearly four years ago, probably single-handedly created the phrase "the new veteran." No Victory Parades is its own recommendation.