Fourteen Landing Zones Summary

Fourteen Landing Zones

Editor Philip Jason explains in his introduction the metaphor he has chosen for the title of this collection of essays: Like landing zones in Vietnam which served as points for soldiers to touch down in unknown territory, these essays are jumping-off points for critical inquiry into the massive body of Vietnam war literature that has sprung up in the last two decades.

The authors of the fourteen selections take disparate approaches to their subject. Several provide detailed analysis of individual novels or poems, while others explore the way groups of novels or plays illustrate common themes that seem to run through all Vietnam war literature. Though written by scholars whose training is largely literary, many of the essays go beyond detailed critical analysis to explore the issues that are at the root of all good war literature: Why did the country get involved, what effect did the war have on its participant, and those on the home front? Additionally, this collection explores the central question that has haunted Americans for two decades: What went wrong with U.S. policy in Vietnam that caused the United States to become a nation divided?

Despite the eclectic nature of these investigations, Jason’s collection has a coherence and a consistently high level of writing that will make it a valuable addition to the growing body of another form of literature: that which examines the works which examine America’s involvement in its most self-conscious war.