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10The Daily Tar Heel Thursday,
By JAMES SUROWIECKI
Assistant Sports Editor
In the last 25 years, no experience
has shaken the American psyche
more than the Vietnam War. In many
respects, the story of that war, of the
men who fought in it and those who
fought against it, was the central
narrative of the American conscious
ness in the 1970s.
The . United States had, after all,
finally lost a war. Even more, we
seemed to have been on the wrong
side, propping up a government that
had no popular support, sending
American boys to die for a cause in
which they ultimately had no real
stake. The war shook the foundations .
of U.S. foreign policy and, when
coupled with Watergate, shook the
American people's faith in their
At the heart of this story is the
Vietnam veteran. He fought an
enemy he never knew for reasons he
was never told. On his return home
he was reviled and treated like an
outcast in his own land. For him,
the healing process has only recently
William Broyles, who was in
Oxford in 1968 and in the jungles
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of Da Nang in 1969, needed to do
something more, something more
than the memorials and parades.
After leaving his job as Newsweek
Editor-in-Chief in 1984, Broyles
returned to Vietnam in search of the
part of the war he never came to grips
with. He was searching for his enemy,
and he found him.
The result of Broyles' travels is
"Brothers in Arms," a work that is
at times terribly powerful but whose
force is diluted by a lack of focus.
His visit can be divided just as
Vietnam was, into North and South,
and the book is fragmented in the
same way. The fragmentation does
not give the book more scope, but
rather diffuses its impact. The essence
of the book is not revealed, and the
journey from war to peace, as Broyles
terms it, does not really begin, until
he goes south, into the land where
he fought, the land he knew.
Nevertheless, his visits to Hanoi,
Phat Diem and Nam Dinh are
interesting and give the reader a
Westerner's view of what life in
Vietnam is like. Broyles is laden with
oversimplistic ideas about capitalism
vs. communism and Western vs.
Eastern, but the stories he tells are
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draws truce with memories
Because Broyles really wants to
talk about people, he is on much
firmer footing when he does just that.
His writing is beautifully concise and
hard, with very little excess. In that
sense, his style fits well with his topic,
for one of his themes is that the
Vietnamese are a hard, ascetic and
driven people, enormously focused
and willing to give all for the cause.
As Uncle Ho said, and as just about
every person we meet in the book
says of the war, for the Vietnamese
"Nothing is more important than
independence and freedom."
The people Broyles encounters
north of the DMZ keep the book
moving through its first half. He talks
to a woman whose husband was
away for nine years fighting the
Americans and did not come home
once. I received one letter," she says.
"1 remember it well. It was in 1969."
His interviews with a number of
generals provide a compelling view
of American strategy from the other
side, as well as Vietnamese tactics
from the inside.
Broyles' narrative really gets going,
though, when he heads south. His
experiences in the North, although
' provocative, have a detached air.
Broyles is the observer, the visitor.
The men and women he talks to,
whatever their role in the war, are
not his brothers in arms. They were
part of a war he never knew.
But the former members of the
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Viet Cong he meets in the South were
part of a war he knew only too well.
They were the people he tried to kill
and who tried to kill him. Many of
the memories they share are the
memories he returned to Vietnam to
exorcise. Yet one of the most pow
erful themes of the book is that for
the Vietnamese these memories are
not so important. What is past is past.
They did what they had to do, and
now must deal with today. Life goes
Throughout the book, Broyles
intersperses the account of his travels
with memories of his first tour of
Vietnam. Reminiscent at times of
Caputo and Del Vecchio, but lacking
the gritty sense of immediacy those
authors provide, these memories
come alive when Broyles talks with
the VC. The shadowy figures in the
night, the faces behind the green
tracers of the AK-47s, are finally
It is in his conversations with these
people that Broyles experiences
Fishin' for recipes?
As promised, here is a crockpot
recipe that requires little more
equipment than a crockpot, cutting
board and sharp knife. However, one
does need some way to cook a pot
Crockpots are great time-saving
devices for students. Most vegetables
can be chopped up the night before
and then thrown into the cooker
before class the next day. The slow
cooking process will have most meals
ready within eight hours, retain the
vitamins of slow-cooked foods and
enhance food flavors.
This week's seafood recipe is high
in protein and vitamins, provides
needed carbohydrates and has almost
no fat or cholesterol. I'm definitely
not saving the best for last. This is
currently my Number 1 recipe, and
it is absolutely delicious.
SEAFOOD STEW (serves 4)
1 large can tomatoes
1 medium green pepper, chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
2-3 cloves garlic, chopped
2 stalks celery, sliced (optional)
1-2 bay leaves
oregano, basil to taste
1 swordfish steak, chopped
2 pieces of sole or perch, chopped
12-1 pound shrimp, shelled
1 5 small scallops, whole (optional)
become meaningful to us. These
conversations comprise the heart of
his journey, and the tragedy of the
book is that we do not get enough
Throughout his travels, Broyles
seems anxious to exorcise his memo
ries, to cleanse himself of his past and
get on with living. But what his
journey shows him is that the need
is not to exorcise, but to accept. He
tells of the terrifying beauty of war
and the camaraderie, of the amazing
sense of being alive that he felt in
He finds that those things, word
less sentiments, he can share only
with his former enemies and his
former comrades, for they are all now
his brothers in arms. And in that
discovery the book finally triumphs
over its limitations. It is there we
finally find the heart of this story.
For in the end, the book is less about
ideas and nations than it is about
people, about the things that bind all
men, and all soldiers, together.
Put all the vegetables and spices
in the crockpot and cook on low for
at least six hours. Then add the fish
and cook for another hour, making
certain to check for any small bones
that may remain in the fish. If you
are using the scallops, add them after
the fish. The shrimp should be added
last, about 34 hour before eating.
Serve over hot rice.
If you want to make this into an
authentic Louisiana Gumbo, add a
10-ounce package of frozen okra and
2 teaspoons of file seasoning (avail
able at Ram's Head Plaza A&P) with
the other vegetables at the beginning.
The addition of a salad and garlic
bread will create a complete main
meal for four.
(75) March of Dimes
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HANNAH & HER SISTERS (R)
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ROBERT REDFORDDEBRA WINGER
LEGAL EAGLES (R)
3:00 5:15 7:30 9:45