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January 08, 2005

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Unfortunately, ask yourself what difference Vann and his ideas made. None whatsoever. In fact, he was little known at the time and it was only Sheehan's book, written after the fact, that made him famous.

Too true, Wally, Vann was not famous. But thank god Sheehan dedicated his life to gracefully and accurately memorializing Vann's struggles in print. It's a beautiful, tragic book that can't be talked about enough.

As for Ginrich's book, I'm very skeptical. I'll withhold judgment, but I'd guess it's motivated by a desire to get out in front of the Iraq trainwreck and insulate him and his fellow travelers in the event that Bush goes down in flames over the next four years.

Big fat books on Viet Nam, like A Bright and Shiny Lie and Frances Fitzgerald's also amazing Fire in the Lake are writtn in retrospect. They have no political impact. In the late 1960s the public mood turned against the war (the Tet offensive etc., and too the piling up of dead young men frp, insignificant families.) John Kerry and other well-schooled boys helped crystallize it for the elites. When the doctors and lawyers and insurance brokers turn aganst a policy it is dead.

What counts is the national sense of humor. When people are laughing at the Bushes it will seem obvious to all.

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