Ed Martini - Department of History, WMU

In Four Decades On, historians, anthropologists, and literary critics examine the legacies of the Second Indochina War, or what most Americans call the Vietnam War, nearly forty years after the United States finally left Vietnam. They address matters such as the daunting tasks facing the Vietnamese at the war’s end — including rebuilding a nation and consolidating a socialist revolution, while fending off China and the Khmer Rouge — and “the Vietnam syndrome,” the cynical, frustrated, and pessimistic sense that colored America’s views of the rest of the world after its humiliating defeat in Vietnam. The contributors provide unexpected perspectives on Agent Orange, the POW/MIA controversies, the commercial trade relationship between the U.S. and Vietnam, and representations of the war and its aftermath produced by artists, particularly writers. They show how the war has continued to affect not only international relations but also the everyday lives of millions of people around the world. Most of the contributors take up matters in the United States, Vietnam, or both nations, while several utilize transnational analytic frameworks, recognizing that the war’s legacies shape and are shaped by dynamics that transcend the two countries.

Contributors: Alex Bloom, Diane Niblack Fox, H. Bruce Franklin, Walter Hixson, Heonik Kwon, Scott Laderman, Mariam B. Lam, Ngo Vinh Long, Edwin A. Martini, Viet Thanh Nguyen, Christina Schwenkel, Charles Waugh


“Four Decades On meets the clear scholarly need for a volume that explores the aftermath of the Vietnam War in Vietnam and the United States. This strong collection of essays demonstrates that the war continued to shape critical dimensions of Vietnamese and American history after 1975 and that these postwar developments must be conceived in a transnational frame.”

Mark Bradley, University of Chicago

“Four Decades On is a most valuable collection of essays analyzing the legacies of the Second Indochina War from inside Vietnam and the United States and, in some essays, from broader transnational perspectives. Addressing film, literature, politics, memory, Agent Orange, the environment, trade, and reconciliation and its absence, this collection would make an excellent concluding assignment to any course on the Vietnam War.”

Marilyn Young, New York University