Prisoners of Culture: Representing the Vietnam P.O.W (Communications, Media, and Culture) 

Gruner, a U.S. Army special forces officer, presents a critical interpretation of the portrayal of Vietnam War prisoners of war in the American media and within the culture as a whole. Early on he demonstrates a reasonably convincing knowledge of the several POW autobiographies available, but his work begins to unravel as the roles of film, advertising, and myth in America’s view of the POW are introduced. The occasional use of jargon serves to distract readers not grounded in contemporary literary theory. The subject matter of the work is intriguing: there is a good hook here, but it awaits a more disciplined writer. For comprehensive Vietnam and mass media collections only.

The text addresses specific areas related to the media’s reinterpretation of POW events, whether through the printed or film medium. Even though the book is full of endnotes I still found many statements or conclusions needing documentation–which he doesn’t provide. Furthermore, some of the material related to the involvement of Sybil Stockdale is in error or taken out of context. Regarding VADM Stockdale: after in “Love and War” he wrote additonal books, which are not used as sources to address the development of his thought post 1973. And, leaving out the influence of Epictetus in his POW experience neglects a significant part of his story.

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