The Other Side of Grief
The Home Front and the Aftermath in American Narratives of the Vietnam War
A wide-ranging critical assessment of the cultural impact of America's longest war
The lingering aftereffects of the Vietnam War resonate to this day throughout American society: in foreign policy, in attitudes about the military and war generally, and in the contemporary lives of members of the so-called baby boom generation who came of age during the 1960s and early 1970s. While the best-known personal accounts of the war tend to center on the experience of combat, Maureen Ryan’s The Other Side of Grief examines the often overlooked narratives—novels, short stories, memoirs, and films—that document the war’s impact on the home front.
In analyzing the accounts of Vietnam veterans, women as well as men, Ryan focuses on the process of readjustment, on how the war continued to insinuate itself into their lives, their families, and their communities long after they returned home. She looks at the writings of women whose husbands, lovers, brothers, and sons served in Vietnam and whose own lives were transformed as a result. She also appraises the experiences of the POWs who came to be embraced as the war’s only heroes; the ordeal of Vietnamese refugees who fled their “American War” to new lives in the United States; and the influential movement created by those who committed themselves to protesting the war.
The end result of Ryan’s investigations is a cogent synthesis of the vast narrative literature generated by the Vietnam War and its aftermath. Together those stories powerfully demonstrate how deeply the legacies of the war penetrated American culture and continue to reverberate still.
Remembered from All Sides
"This is a book that needed to be written. Maureen Ryan has done it, and she has done it professionally, thoroughly, and completely."—Philip D. Beidler, author of Re-writing America: Vietnam
Authors in Their Generation
"The Other Side of Grief brilliantly explores the effects of the Vietnam War across an astonishing range of narratives, tracing the impact of war on the home front from its immediate aftermath through the present moment. In its scope and insight, it's a genuinely remarkable book."—Dr. Michael Mays
"Maureen Ryan's The Other Side of Grief is an ambitious project. . . . Ryan's book manages to carve out a space for itself within the extensive library of Vietnam War studies. . . . In the contested terrain of the Vietnam War era...The Other Side of Grief will most certainly garner its share of readers and students."—Journal of American Studies