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The Green Room, Winter 1990

ISSUE:  Winter 1990

Although it may seem like only yesterday, a quarter of a century has now elapsed since Lyndon Johnson began the escalation of American involvement in South Vietnam. Indeed, to the generation that has come of age in the 25 years since 1965, the Vietnam conflict may seem lost in the fogs of history, as long ago as Agincourt, as far away as Yorktown, New Orleans, or Gettysburg. Yet for those Americans who lived through the longest conflict in this country’s history—and the only one from which America emerged vanquished rather than victorious—Vietnam still arouses passion. The millions who visit the Vietnam Memorial in Washington every year are ample testament to that. Small wonder, then, that, as historian George C. Herring notes, “Vietnam has been at the center of every foreign policy debate” since the fall of Saigon in the spring of 1975. Further, Mr. Herring observes “nearly 17 years after the end of U.S. military involvement, the nation is still deeply divided on the meaning and significance of the war and what should be learned from it.”

One of the leading authorities on U. S. foreign policy since World War II, Mr. Herring is a professor of history and former chairman of the history department at the University of Kentucky, where the faculty of the College of Arts and Sciences chose him as Distinguished Professor for the 1987—1988 academic year. A native of Virginia, Professor Herring graduated from Roanoke College in 1957. After service in the Navy, he entered graduate school at the University of Virginia, where he received his Ph.D. degree in 1965. He began his teaching career at Ohio University and came to Kentucky in 1969. In addition to scores of articles and essays, he is the author of Aid to Russia, 1941—1946: Strategy, Diplomacy, the Origins of the Cold War (1973), and the editor of The Diaries of Edward R. Stettinius, Jr., 1943— 1946 (1975). He is best known for America’s Longest War: The United States and Vietnam, 1950—1975, which was the first, and still remains, the most respected scholarly history of the war in Vietnam. Mr. Herring is currently serving as President of the Society for Historians of American Foreign Relations.

Vietnam is also the subject of Gaines M. Foster’s essay. Mr. Foster sees the United States as having gone through not one but three Vietnam Wars. “The first,” he writes, “was the actual war in Indo-China to preserve Vietnam. . . . The second was the war at home over the morality and wisdom of that intervention, a battle that divided and disrupted the nation. The third is the battle to define what the wars in and over Vietnam meant.” Seeing the third Vietnam War as “inevitable,” Mr. Foster believes Americans must “begin to come to terms with defeat in Vietnam.” In his essay, he discusses how the South’s experience following the Civil War can provide useful lessons in helping Americans today come to terms with the Vietnamese ordeal.

An associate professor of history at Louisiana State University, Mr. Foster received his Ph.D. degree from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He is the author of Ghosts of the Confederacy: Defeat, the Lost Cause, and the Emergence of the New South, 1865—1913. He was the recipient of the Roger Connor Award in 1977 and the Fletcher M. Green Award in 1984 for his historical scholarship.

A native of Richmond, Virginia, Elizabeth Hunnewell is a graduate of Hollins College. She lives with her husband and three children in Wellesley, Massachusetts and free-lances for the Boston Globe and the Boston Phoenix.

Among contemporary critics of Southern literature, Louis Rubin is preeminent. No one in recent times has written more about Southern writers and their work—and written so wisely and well. Mr. Rubin’s numerous books include The Far Away Country: Writers of the Modern South, The Writer in the South: Studies in a Literary Community, Southern Renaissance: The Literature of the Modern South, William Elliot Shoots a Bear, and Essays on the Southern Literary Imagination. In addition to writing about the South, he has helped the cause of Southern writing by founding Algonquin Press of Chapel Hill, which he still directs.

Florence Cohen has published two short novels and a collection of short stories. She was the recipient of the Illinois Arts Council Award for Fiction and a National Endowment for the Humanities Fellowship. Much of her fiction and non-fiction is focused on the Middle East, where she and her husband lived in Jerusalem for several years. Mrs. Cohen has taught writing at Northwestern University and Barat College, and she was Writer-in-Residence at Lake Forest College in Illinois.

Lynne Doyle currently teaches at the University of Houston. Her book, Living Gloves, was published by Dutton as part of the National Poetry Series, and she has two poems forthcoming in the anthology, Under 35: The New Generation of American Poets (Anchor/Doubleday).

Carl Dennis has published five collections of poetry, the most recent being The Outskirts of Troy, published by Morrow in 1988. He teaches at the State University of New York at Buffalo and in the Warren Wilson MFA Program in Writing outside Asheville, North Carolina.

Roger Fanning has an M.F.A. degree from Warren Wilson College and now lives on Whidbey Island near Seattle, Washington.

A previous VQR contributor, Robert Hill Long, has put together a manuscript of prose poems, parts of which have appeared in Poetry East, Kenyan Review, Massachusetts Review, Montana Review, and now VQR.

Richard Dankleff “was in the merchant marine in the days before supertankers and container ships.” He is the author of two collections of poems, Popcorn Girl (1979), and Westerns (1984), both published by Oregon State University Press.

Alan Williamson’s second collection of poetry, The Muse of Distance, was published by Knopf last year. He is a member of the English faculty at the University of California, Davis.

Ken Kuhlken lives near San Diego, California with his children. He writes fiction and reviews. He work has been honored by an NEA Fellowship and other awards. He has published a novel and many short stories in Esquire, VQR, and other journals, most recently in MSS and Puerto Del Sol.

A native of New York City, Piri Halasz, grew up in Manhattan and received her B.A. degree from Barnard College in 1956. Upon graduation, she went to work for Time magazine as a researcher and became a writer there in 1963. In 1966, she wrote Time’s popular story on “Swinging London” and, as a byproduct of that, was also asked to write A Swinger’s Guide to London, which was published by Coward-McCann in 1967. After leaving Time, she took an M.A. degree (in 1976) and a Ph.D. degree (in 1982) in art history from Columbia University.

Maxine Rodburg received her M.F.A. degree from the University of Michigan, where she won four first-place Hopwood Awards. She now teaches writing at Harvard University. “Shelter” is her first published story.

Paul Nagel is the author of Descent from Glory: Four Generations of the John Adams Family (1983), a book which was a major selection of the Book-of-the-Month Club. A former Director of the Virginia Historical Society, he recently completed a biography of the Lee family which Oxford is scheduled to publish later this year.

Sanford Pinsker is a prolific contributor of essays and book reviews to this journal and others. His latest VQR review examines the role of social critics in the 20th century. A professor of English at Franklin and Marshall College, Mr. Pinsker is now working on a study of New York intellectual, Irving Howe.

Alfred Konefsky is a professor of law at the State University of New York at Buffalo. He was editor of volumes one and two of The Legal Papers of Daniel Webster.

An authority on Italian art, Paul Barolsky, is chairman of the McIntire Department of Art at the University of Virginia. He is the author of Walter Pater’s Renaissance and Infinite Jest: Wit and Humor in Italian Renaissance Art.

Woodford McClellan is the author of A History of the Soviet Union, a textbook published in 1986 by Prentis Hall. That same year, his Russian wife, Irina McClellan, was permitted to leave the Soviet Union after being prevented by Soviet authorities from joining her husband whom she married in 1974. Mrs. McClellan recounted her experiences in Of Love and Russia, a book published by Norton last year. Mr. McClellan is a professor of history at the University of Virginia.

Robert Mason is Editor Emeritus of the Norfolk Virginian—Pilot, a native North Carolinian, and a consummate newspaperman. He grew up in Mebane, North Carolina, where he got his first exposure to the battling Binghams, subject of his essay/ review.

THE VIRGINIA QUARTERLY REVIEW Staige D.BlackfordEditor GregoryOrrPoetry Consultant

Advisory Editors J. C. Levenson  Richard M. Rorty  Kenneth W. Thompson  Dorothy R. Ross Nathan A. Scott, Jr. G. Edward White Lockhart B. McGuire, M.D. Charlee Pawlina, Business Manager

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