Bringing It All Back Home: An Oral History of New York City’s Vietnam Veterans

Philip F Napoli, Author
Philip F. Napoli. Hill and Wang, $27 (272p) ISBN 978-0-8090-7318-4
Reviewed on: 01/14/2013
Release date: 06/11/2013
Paperback - 254 pages - 978-0-8090-3153-5
Open Ebook - 272 pages - 978-1-4668-3700-3
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Napoli, an assistant professor of U.S. history at Brooklyn College (where he also directs the Veterans Oral History Project), uses the “life-story technique” to good effect in this worthy oral history. Beginning in 2004, Napoli spent six years conducting extensive interviews with more than 200 Vietnam vets who either grew up in New York City or who currently live there. The result of those 600 hours of recordings is a readable chronicle that uses the personal histories of the soldiers (in the interviewees’ transcribed words) to tell the human story of the American war in Vietnam. To its credit, the book reads like a series of informal biographical sketches fleshed out with bigger-picture insights, supplemented further by the smooth interweaving of Napoli’s commentary and narrative padding. But the author and his subjects take pains to present more than just stories of battle, including rich accounts of the lives of the men before they went to war and after they returned home. While some of the combatants’ stories are New York City–specific, the bulk of them mirror the experiences of Vietnam vets from across the nation. The book is a welcome addition to the Vietnam War oral history literary canon. (June 11)
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