The term "friendly fire" was coined in the 1970s but the theme appears in literature from ancient times to the present. It begins the narrative in Aeschylus's Persians and Larry Heinemann's Paco's Story. It marks the turning point in Homer's Iliad, Virgil's Aeneid, the Chanson de Roland, Stephen Crane's The Red Badge of Courage and Tim O'Brien's Going After Cacciato. It is the subject of transformative disclosure in Jaan Kross's Czar's Madman, Ron Kovic's Born on the Fourth of July, O'Brien's In the Lake of the Woods and A.B. Yehoshua's Friendly Fire. In some stories, events propel the characters into a friendly-fire catastrophe, as in Thomas Taylor's A Piece of this Country and Oliver Stone's 1986 film Platoon. This study examines friendly fire in a broad range of literary contexts.
Author: Riverside Katherine Kinney Associate Professor of English University of California
Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
Category: Literary Criticism
Hundreds of memoirs, novels, plays, and movies have been devoted to the American war in Vietnam. In spite of the great variety of mediums, political perspectives and the degrees of seriousness with which the war has been treated, Katherine Kinney argues that the vast majority of these works share a single story: that of Americans killing Americans in Vietnam. Friendly Fire, in this instance, refers not merely to a tragic error of war, it also refers to America's war with itself during the Vietnam years. Starting from this point, this book considers the concept of "friendly fire" from multiple vantage points, and portrays the Vietnam age as a crucible where America's cohesive image of itself is shattered--pitting soldiers against superiors, doves against hawks, feminism against patriarchy, racial fear against racial tolerance. Through the use of extensive evidence from the film and popular fiction of Vietnam (i.e. Kovic's Born on the Fourth of July, Didion's Democracy, O'Brien's Going After Cacciato, Rabe's Sticks and Bones and Streamers), Kinney draws a powerful picture of a nation politically, culturally, and socially divided, and a war that has been memorialized as a contested site of art, media, politics, and ideology.
War is often depicted in the textbooks as a well-orchestrated, albeit violent, exercise in which opposing units strive to achieve tactical and strategic objectives. That each side will suffer casualties in the process is taken for granted; they are the inevitable, if regretable, consequence of such a deadly undertaking. That each side is almost certain to suffer casualties inflicted by its own forces is not generally taken for granted, Yet, in each of America's wars, especially those of the twentieth century, a significant number of soldiers have been killed or wounded as the result of friendly fire. The fact that the percentage of casualties resulting from friendly fire from World War I through Vietnam has been extremely low does not make the accidental killing or wounding of one's own troops any less tragic or unpalatable. Nor does it offer much consolation to the commander responsible for the lives of his troops or to the soldier who runs the risk of falling victim to the fire of his own forces. It may well be that in the "fog of war" friendly fire casualties are inevitable, but this solemn observation does not absolve the armed forces from doing everything in their power to eliminate the problem. To be sure, each branch of the Army and each of the Armed Services employ measures calculated to prevent incidents of friendly fire. But such measures offer only partial solutions, especially on the modern battlefield where joint and combined forces operate under often obscure conditions. A more comprehensive study of the causes and consequences of friendly fire is needed. That one has not yet appeared is attributable to several factors, foremost among them being the nature of the evidenceon which such a study must rely. The required raw data are scattered throughout a variety of primary and secondary, official and unofficial sources. Before one can undertake a serious and comprehensive analysis of friendly fire, these data must be found and brought together in one place. In Amicicide: The Problem of Friendly Fire in Modern War, LTC Charles R. Shrader has taken a major step toward the compilation of these data. From his survey of much of the existing literature on World War I, World War II, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War, he has extracted examples of friendly fire involving U.S. ground forces and has categorized them according to types of incidents. In his well-informed narrative, he draws tentative conclusions about the causes and effects of friendly fire and offers recommendations for those who expect to study the subject further. He has, in short, produced a superb reference book and a springboard for a deeper and more comprehensive analysis of this grim and complex problem. William A. Stofft Colonel, Armor Director, Combat Studies Institute
Hundreds of memoirs, novels, plays, and movies have been devoted to the American war in Vietnam. In spite of the great variety of media, political perspectives and the degrees of seriousness with which the war has been treated, Katherine Kinney argues that the vast majority of these works share a single story: that of Americans killing Americans in Vietnam. Friendly Fire, in this instance, refers not merely to a tragic error of war, it also refers to America's war with itself during the Vietnam years. Starting from this point, this book considers the concept of "friendly fire" from multiple vantage points, and portrays the Vietnam age as a crucible where America's cohesive image of itself is shattered--pitting soldiers against superiors, doves against hawks, feminism against patriarchy, racial fear against racial tolerance. Through the use of extensive evidence from the film and popular fiction of Vietnam (e.g. Kovic's Born on the Fourth of July, Didion's Democracy, O'Brien's Going After Cacciato, Rabe's Sticks and Bones and Streamers), Kinney draws a powerful picture of a nation politically, culturally, and socially divided, and a war that has been memorialized as a contested site of art, media, politics, and ideology.
Kinney explores the intersections of culture, literature, and history surrouding the Vietnam "conflict," about which hundreds of plays, novels, short stories, and memoirs have been written. The cultural and social implications from these evocative films and popular fictions shaped the American landsape with thoughts on what the war really meant to American culture.
Friendly Fire covers the accidental shootdown over northern Iraq of the U.S. Black Hawks. It asks questions such as how could this happen, why did the F-15 pilots misidentify the Black Hawks and why did the AWACS crew fail to intervene?
War and violence have arguably been some of the strongest influences on literature, but the relation is complex: more than just a subject for story-telling, war tends to reshape literature and culture. Modern war literature necessarily engages with national ideologies, and this volume looks at the specificity of how American literature deals with the emotional, intellectual, social, political, and economic contradictions that evolve into and out of war. Raising questions about how American ideals of independence and gender affect representations of war while also considering how specifically American experiences of race and class interweave with representations of combat, this book is a rich and coherent introduction to these texts and critical debates.
Reverberations of the Vietnam War can still be felt in American culture. The post-9/11 United States forays into the Middle East, the invasion and occupation of Iraq especially, have evoked comparisons to the nearly two decades of American presence in Viet Nam (1954-1973). That evocation has renewed interest in the Vietnam War, resulting in the re-printing of older War narratives and the publication of new ones. This volume tracks those echoes as they appear in American, Vietnamese American, and Vietnamese war literature, much of which has joined the American literary canon. Using a wide range of theoretical approaches, these essays analyze works by Michael Herr, Bao Ninh, Duong Thu Huong, Bobbie Ann Mason, le thi diem thuy, Tim O'Brien, Larry Heinemann, and newcomers Denis Johnson, Karl Marlantes, and Tatjana Solis. Including an historical timeline of the conflict and annotated guides to further reading, this is an essential guide for students and readers of contemporary American fiction
As the world enters a new century, as it embarks on new wars and sees new developments in the waging of war, reconsiderations of the last century’s legacy of warfare are necessary to our understanding of the current world order. In Soldiers Once and Still, Alex Vernon looks back through the twentieth century in order to confront issues of self and community in veterans’ literature, exploring how war and the military have shaped the identities of Ernest Hemingway, James Salter, and Tim O’Brien, three of the twentieth century’s most respected authors. Vernon specifically explores the various ways war and the military, through both cultural and personal experience, have affected social and gender identities and dynamics in each author’s work. Hemingway, Salter, and O’Brien form the core of Soldiers Once and Still because each represents a different warring generation of twentieth-century America: World War I with Hemingway, World War II and Korea with Salter, and Vietnam with O’Brien. Each author also represents a different literary voice of the twentieth century, from modern to mid-century to postmodern, and each presents a different battlefield experience: Hemingway as noncombatant, Salter as air force fighter pilot, and O’Brien as army grunt. War’s pervasive influence on the individual means that, for veterans-turned-writers like Hemingway, Salter, and O’Brien, the war experience infiltrates their entire body of writing—their works can be seen not only as war literature but also as veterans’ literature. As such, their entire postwar oeuvre, regardless of whether an individual work explicitly addresses the war or the military, is open to Vernon’s exploration of war, society, gender, and literary history. Vernon’s own experiences as a soldier, a veteran, a writer, and a critic inform this enlightening critique of American literature, offering students and scholars of American literature and war studies an invaluable tool for understanding war’s effects on the veteran writer and his society.
Once referred to by the New York Times as the “Israeli Faulkner,” A. B. Yehoshua’s fiction invites an assessment of Israel’s Jewish inheritance and the moral and political options that the country currently faces in the Middle East. The Retrospective Imagination of A. B. Yehoshua is an insightful overview of the fiction, nonfiction, and hundreds of critical responses to the work of Israel’s leading novelist. Instead of an exhaustive chronological-biographical account of Yehoshua’s artistic growth, Yael Halevi-Wise calls for a systematic appreciation of the author’s major themes and compositional patterns. Specifically, she argues for reading Yehoshua’s novels as reflections on the “condition of Israel,” constructed multifocally to engage four intersecting levels of signification: psychological, sociological, historical, and historiosophic. Each of the book’s seven chapters employs a different interpretive method to showcase how Yehoshua’s constructions of character psychology, social relations, national history, and historiosophic allusions to traditional Jewish symbols manifest themselves across his novels. The book ends with a playful dialogue in the style of Yehoshua’s masterpiece, Mr. Mani, that interrogates his definition of Jewish identity. Masterfully written, with full control of all the relevant materials, Halevi-Wise’s assessment of Yehoshua will appeal to students and scholars of modern Jewish literature and Jewish studies.