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Conversations with Americans

by Mark Lane

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"Conversations with Americans" is possibly Mark Lane's most controversial work. Lane investigates the atrocities of the Vietnam War committed with alarming frequency by American troops, of a systematic dehumanization of the enemy that eventually included many of the very population they were sent to save from communism. As Lane says in his introductions, "If you convince your soldiers that the enemy is less than human, comparable to baggage at best, a child assassin at worst, and then inform them that their mission is to score high in the body-count exercise, you cannot feign surprise when you discover what the war has become." Lane began his investigation by interviewing American GIs who fed to Europe after refusing to serve in Vietnam. He then set out to interview American soldiers still on active duty, or who had been honorably discharged about the atrocities they had witnessed or been a part of in Vietnam. To his surprise he was able to find numerous individuals who told him disturbing stories of their time in Vietnam. Most were compelled out of a sense of duty to inform their countrymen of the horrors of war. In interviews with 32 American GIs, "Conversations with Americans" tells the story of the Vietnam war from the viewpoint of soldiers in the field, in their own words. It is disturbing and frightening and courageous. This is a work born out of concern for a generation sent to fight a brutal war with barely discernible rules, in military organizations that deliberately eroded the morality of American soldiers and then sent them home to their parents, wives and children. Lane set out to bring the stories to the American public only to be stymied by his own publishing company which withdrew the book from publication, effectively banning it from the American public. Now, for the first time in 40 years, the words of these young soldiers can be heard again.… (more)

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"Conversations with Americans" is possibly Mark Lane's most controversial work. Lane investigates the atrocities of the Vietnam War committed with alarming frequency by American troops, of a systematic dehumanization of the enemy that eventually included many of the very population they were sent to save from communism. As Lane says in his introductions, "If you convince your soldiers that the enemy is less than human, comparable to baggage at best, a child assassin at worst, and then inform them that their mission is to score high in the body-count exercise, you cannot feign surprise when you discover what the war has become." Lane began his investigation by interviewing American GIs who fed to Europe after refusing to serve in Vietnam. He then set out to interview American soldiers still on active duty, or who had been honorably discharged about the atrocities they had witnessed or been a part of in Vietnam. To his surprise he was able to find numerous individuals who told him disturbing stories of their time in Vietnam. Most were compelled out of a sense of duty to inform their countrymen of the horrors of war. In interviews with 32 American GIs, "Conversations with Americans" tells the story of the Vietnam war from the viewpoint of soldiers in the field, in their own words. It is disturbing and frightening and courageous. This is a work born out of concern for a generation sent to fight a brutal war with barely discernible rules, in military organizations that deliberately eroded the morality of American soldiers and then sent them home to their parents, wives and children. Lane set out to bring the stories to the American public only to be stymied by his own publishing company which withdrew the book from publication, effectively banning it from the American public. Now, for the first time in 40 years, the words of these young soldiers can be heard again.

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