American Rhetoric and the Vietnam War

American Rhetoric and the Vietnam War

by J. Justin Gustainis


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Rhetoric during wartime is about the creation of consensus, writes Justin Gustainis. In American Rhetoric and the Vietnam War, he discusses efforts to build or destroy public support of America's most controversial war of the century. Gustainis analyzes several important aspects of Vietnam era rhetoric: presidential rhetoric, protest rhetoric, and the war as portrayed in popular culture. Broadly defining rhetoric as the deliberate use of symbols to persuade, the author explores partisan use of speeches, marches, songs, military campaigns, gestures, destruction of property, comic strips, and films.

Part One, Prowar Rhetoric, opens with a chapter devoted to the domino theory as a condensation symbol. Subsequent chapters discuss the hero myth in reference to Kennedy and the Green Berets, rhetoric and the Tet Offensive, and Nixon's Silent Majority. Part Two examines antiwar rhetoric, and includes studies of Daniel Berrigan, SDS and the Port Huron Statement, and the Weathermen. Gustainis argues that the antiwar movement did not stop the war, and may have prolonged it. In Part Three, he analyzes Doonesbury as antiwar rhetoric, then turns to an examination of how the war has been portrayed in popular film. Gustainis includes a political, military, and rhetorical chronology of the war as an appendix. Recommended for scholars and students of rhetoric and political communication.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780275933616
Publisher: ABC-CLIO, Incorporated
Publication date: 04/13/1993
Series: Praeger Series in Political Communication Series
Pages: 192
Product dimensions: 6.38(w) x 9.61(h) x (d)

About the Author

J. JUSTIN GUSTAINIS is Associate Professor of Communication at the State University of New York at Plattsburgh. He is currently working on a book-length study of the rhetoric of Jimmy Carter.

Table of Contents

Foreword by Robert E. Denton, Jr.

Dangerous Metaphor: The Domino Theory as Condensation Symbol

John F. Kennedy and the Green Berets: The Rhetorical Use of the Hero Myth

"Waist Deep in the Big Muddy": Rhetorical Dimensions of the Tet Offensive

Nixon and the Silent Majority: The Rhetoric of Shared Values

Daniel Berrigan and the Rhetoric of Ultra-Resistance

The Rhetoric of Paradox: SDS and The Port Huron Statement

Bringing the War Home: The Rhetoric of The Weathermen

While the Whole World Watched: Rhetorical Failures of Antiwar Protest

B. D. Goes to 'Nam: Doonesbury as Antiwar Rhetoric

From Savior to Psycho and Back Again: The Changing Role of Green Berets in Vietnam Films

Apocalypse Now: A Burkeian Analysis of Cinematic Rhetoric

Appendix: The Vietnam War: A Political, Military, and Rhetorical Chronology

Selected Bibliography


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