Monday, August 6, 2007

Review: MIA: Mythmaking in America by H. Bruce Franklin

I stumbled across this book while doing some research on Vietnam and found it to be fascinating. Franklin argues that the POW/MIA myth is a concoction of politicians, right-wing political activists, and hucksters who have kept the POW issue alive as an open wound and thus reframed the Vietnam War with Americans as the true victims. This myth has been kept alive by Hollywood films such as Missing in Action and Rambo and has done a disservice to Americans' attempt to understand the Vietnam War.

Having grown up in the post-Vietnam era, I was also fascinated by tales of POWs and the possibility that some may still be alive. As I got older, however, I came to suspect that this was largely a myth designed to deceive the American public once again about Vietnam. This book has confirmed by suspicion.

Franklin examines the "numbers game" of POW/MIAs and explodes the possibility that any are still alive or that the Vietnamese government has not fully accounted for POWs or had any reason to keep some secretly, while releasing others. Franklin also debunks many of the alleged "live sightings" and the conspiracy theories associated with alleged POWs.

The reframing of the Vietnam War with the United States as the true victim has had major implications for the development of US Foreign policy in the post-Vietnam era. Tragically, it has blinded many Americans to the true cost of US intervention overseas--for the people living in those countries, for US soldiers, and America's credibility in world affairs.

Well worth the read.

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