A Rift in the Earth:
Art, Memory, and the Fight for a Vietnam War Memorial
"If you are under 40 you know the Vietnam Veterans Memorial as an indispensable part of the National Mall, as iconic as the Lincoln Memorial, and just as cherished. That is was ever controversial seems laughable. But it was was, and to the point of white-hot fury. Its design and construction sparked what many have been the first, and arguably the angriest, of America's "art wars" - evening including today's bitter disputes over Confederate war memorials. Curiously, it was also the only one to leave a more united country in its wake... "
"A personal epilogue recalls Reston's own service during the war. Although he was not sent to Vietnam, his best friend from military intelligence school, Ronald E. Ray, was. There he died (and rather heroically) in the Tet offensive. Reston hardly needs to spell it out for us: When he looks at the black granite wall, eh knows that it is only for the luck of the draw that Ray's name is there and hot his. Here one understands the emotional undertow that runs through every page of this superb and unexpectedly affecting book.
- Read more in the NY Times Review by Michael J. Lewis, published on 9/11/2017