Recommended films, books and organizations to dive deeper into the Vietnam War, the draft resistance movement and nonviolent action.
The Movement and the Madman. (Aired on PBS in 2023) Stephen Talbot, Director. The little-known story of how the anti-war movement undermined Nixon and Kissinger's secret "madman" strategy to launch a major escalation of the war, including the possible use of nuclear weapons in North Vietnam.
Sir, No Sir. 2005 documentary by Displaced Films about the G.I. anti-war movement within the ranks of the United States Armed Forces during the Vietnam War.
The Most Dangerous Man in America, Daniel Ellsberg and the Pentagon Papers. Judith Ehrlich and Rick Goldsmith. Oscar-nominated documentary that goes to the heart of the lies and deceptions that drove the Vietnam War and the courage it took to release the Pentagon Papers.
The Winter Soldier Project. In February 1971, one month after the revelations of the My Lai massacre, The Vietnam Veterans Against the War organized the Winter Soldier Investigation where more than 125 veterans spoke of atrocities they had witnessed or committed.
Hearts and Minds. Peter Davis. 1974 Oscar winner unflinchingly confronts the United States' involvement in Vietnam, using a wealth of sources - from interviews to newsreels to documentary footage of the conflict at home and abroad.
Dear America: Letters Home from Vietnam. Bill Couturie. 1987 film featuring letters written by American soldiers read by actors, reveals what was going on in the minds of the soldiers who were there, without any tricks of memory or historical revisionism.
On Two Fronts: Latinos & Vietnam. Myelene Moreno. 2015 film examines the Latino experience during a war that placed its heaviest burden on working class youth. Includes a Latino veteran who resigned from the local draft board to protest the war.
Healing a Soldier's Heart. Stephen Olsson. Follows the courageous journeys of four Vietnam veterans, all suffering from severe PTSD, who return to Vietnam to face the demons that continue to haunt them and hopefully heal their PTSD.
FTA a 1972 documentary of the international performance tour by Jane Fonda, Donald Sutherland and Holly Near to support GI coffee houses and newspapers organized to oppose the war, a traveling troupe of political theater, a kind of anti-USO show.
Camden 28. Anthony Giacchino. 2007 film about twenty-eight members of the "Catholic Left" who were arrested in 1971 for attempting to break into and vandalize a draft board in Camden, New Jersey
Hit and Stay. Joe Tropea and Skizz Cyzyk. 2013 documentary looks at the actions of The Catonsville Nine and The Baltimore Four, the so-called Catholic Left.
The War at Home. Glen Silber. 1979 film about the anti-war movement in Madison, Wisconsin. In 2018, the film was restored in 4K and re-released.
Dancis, Bruce. Resister: A Story of Protest and Prison during the Vietnam War. Cornell University Press. 2014. Autobiography of a resister.
Elmer, Jerry. Felon for Peace: The Memoir of a Vietnam-Era Draft Resister. Vanderbilt University Press, 2005.
Ferber, Michael and Staughton Lynd. The Resistance. Boston: Beacon Press, 1971. Survey of the draft resistance movement.
Foley, Michael S. Confronting the War Machine: Draft Resistance During the Vietnam War. University of North Carolina Press. 2003. A history of the draft resistance movement focused on the Boston group.
Gaylin, Willard, MD., In the Service of Their Country: War Resisters in Prison. Viking Press, 1970. A psychological study of resisters written by a psychiatrist/psychoanalyst.
Gottlieb, Sherry Gershon. Hell No, We Won’t Go! Resisting the Draft During the Vietnam War. New York: Viking Press, 1991. Oral histories of resisters.
Gould, Richard. Refusal to Submit: Roots of the Vietnam War and a Young Man’s Draft Resistance. Susan Kaplan, 2017. A memoir and historical record unveiling a complex and multifaceted antiwar movement, based on personal narrative, meticulous research on the war, and interviews with fellow draft resisters who served time at the federal prison in Safford, Arizona. http://www.refusaltosubmit.org/
Harris, David and Joan Baez Harris. Coming Out. Pocket Books, New York. 1971. Written shortly after Harris’s release from prison.
Harris, David. I Shoulda Been Home Yesterday. Delacorte Press. 1976. Harris’s account of his time in prison.
Harris, David. Our War: What We Did In Vietnam. Random House. 1996. Memoir of and commentary on the war from Resistance leader David Harris.
Keith, Jeff. Inmate 31114 – A Draft Resistance Memoir. Xlibris Corporation, 2006. Served time from 1965 to 1966 for refusing the draft.
Kusch, Frank. All American Boys - Draft Dodgers in Canada During the Vietnam War. Westport, CN: Praeger Publishers, 2001.
Naeve, Lowell. A Field of Broken Stones. Libertarian Press, 1950. After being rejected by twenty publishers, the chronicle of a World War II draft resister has become a classic of civil disobedience and objection.
Useem, Michael. Conscription, Protest, and Social Conflict: The Life and Death of a Draft Resistance Movement. John Wiley & Sons, 1973.
Zimmer, Timothy W. L. Letters of a C.O. from Prison. Valley Forge, PA: The Judson Press, 1969.
General Histories of the War
Axelrod, Alan. The Real History of the Vietnam War. Sterling Publishing. New York. 2013
Bradley, Mark Philip. Vietnam At War. Oxford University Press. 2009.
Karnow, Stanley. Vietnam: A History. Viking Press. 1983. Highly reviewed.
Lawrence, Mark Atwood. The Vietnam War: A Concise International History. Oxford University Press. 2008.
Neale, Jonathan. A People’s History of the Vietnam War. The New Press, New York, 2001. A history told by those who fought the War on both sides.
Rotter, Andrew J. The Causes of the Vietnam War in The Oxford Companion to American Military History, John Whiteclay Chambers II, Editor. New York: Oxford UP, 1999.
The Civil Rights Movement
Burns, Stewart. To the Mountaintop – Martin Luther King Jr.’s Sacred Mission to Save America 1955 – 1968. Harper, San Francisco. 2004. Biography of Dr. King and movement history with an emphasis on his spiritual base and the use of original documents and oral histories.
Hall, Simon. Peace and Freedom: The Civil Rights and Antiwar Movements in the 1960s. University of Philadelphia Press.
Lucks, Daniel. Selma to Saigon: The Civil Rights Movement and the Vietnam War. University Press of Kentucky. 2014. Traces the continuity between anti-racism activism and anti-war activism in the 1960s.
Dissent in the Vietnam War Era
Aguilar-San Juan, Karin, and Frank Joyce. The People Make the Peace: Lessons from the Vietnam Antiwar Movement. Essays by nine activists about their involvement in people-to-people diplomacy during visits to Vietnam during the War, including visits to the North.
Berkeley Art Center Association. The Whole World’s Watching – Peace and Social Justice Movements of the 1969s and 1970s. 2001. Berkeley, California. Catalog of a 2006 exhibit, focused on northern California with more than 100 photographs.
Bingham, Clara. Witness to the Revolution: Radicals, Resisters, Vets, Hippies, and the Year America Lost Its Mind and Found Its Soul. Random House. New York. 2016. Fascinating survey of dissent in America from August, 1969, to August, 1970.
Burns, Stewart. Social Movements of the 1960s – Searching for Democracy. Twayne Publishers, Boston. 1990. The continuities between the Civil Rights, the antiwar, and the Women’s Rights Movements, and their impact.
Cluster, Dick, Editor. They Should Have Served that Cup of Coffee – 7 Radicals Remembers the 60s. South End Press, Boston, MA, 1979. Essays and interviews with seven activists in social change movements of the 1960s.
Gettleman, Marvin E., Jane Franklin, Marilyn B. Young and H. Bruce Franklin. Vietnam and America, The Most Documented History of the Vietnam War. Grove Press, New York, 1995. Extensive collection of essays and original documents telling the history of the War.
Gosse, Van. The Movements of the New Left, 1950-1975: A Brief History with Documents. Bedford/St. Martins. 2005. Original source material.
Hayden, Tom. Hell No: The Forgotten Power of the Vietnam Peace Movement. Yale University Press. 2017. Book-length essay about the meaning of the antiwar movement.
Jeffreys-Jones, Rhodri. Peace Now! American Society and the Ending of the Vietnam War. Yale University Press. 1999. Examines the involvement of students, African-Americans, women, and labor in the anti-war movement.
Lewis, Penny. Hardhats, Hippies, and Hawks: The Vietnam Antiwar Movement as Myth and Memory. Cornell University Press. 2013. Explores the extensive opposition to the Vietnam War among working-class Americans.
Robbins, Mary Susannah. Against the Vietnam War. Rowman & Littlefield Publishers. 1999. Essays from a wide variety of antiwar activists.
Wells, Tom. The War Within: America’s Battle Over Vietnam. University of California Press. 1994. Year-by-year history of the antiwar movement.
Coyote, Peter. Sleeping Where I Fall. A Chronicle. Counterpoint. 1999. Now an actor, Coyote was deep in 1960s counter-culture life in the Bay Area.
Didion, Joan. Slouching Towards Bethlehem. Random House, New York. 2000. Incisive essays about life in the 1960s including her own.
Ellsberg, Daniel. Secrets: A Memoir of Vietnam and the Pentagon Papers. New York, NY: Penguin Books, 2002. The government think-tank insider who broke ranks to reveal a top-secret report detailing government deception about the War.
Gitlin, Todd. The Sixties; Years of Hope, Days of Rage, New York, NY: Bantam Books, 1987. Insider’s view of the era and particularly the rise and violent collapse of the New Left.
Other Aspects of the War and the Anti-War Movement
Appy, Christian G. Patriots: The Vietnam War Remembered from All Sides. Penguin Books, 2003. Oral history from participants in all aspects of the war and anti-war experience.
Appy, Christian. Working-class War: American Combat Soldiers and Vietnam. University of North Carolina Press. 1993. Oral history of the war from working-class servicemen, who made up 80% of those who served in Vietnam.
Barkan, Steven E. Protesters on Trial: Criminal Justice in the Southern Civil Rights and Vietnam Antiwar Movements. Rutgers. 1985. Aspects of prosecution of and the legal process for anti-war activists, and the Civil Rights Movement.
Baskir, Lawrence M. and William A. Strauss. Chance and Circumstance: The Draft, the War and the Vietnam Generation. New York: Alfred A. Knopf. 1978. Classic survey of the Vietnam-era draft itself – who was drafted and who was not, who resisted, evaded, or escaped, and how..
Kerry, John and Vietnam Veterans Against the War. The New Soldier. Edited by John Thorne and George Butler. Collier Books, New York. 1971. Compelling account of a series of demonstrations and actions by War veterans in 1971, including throwing their medals onto the steps of the US Capitol.
Chung, Nguyen Ba and Kevin Bowen. 6 Vietnamese Poets. Curbstone Press, Willimantic, CT, 2002.Six Vietnamese poets who came of age during the Vietnam War.
Model, David. Lying for Empire, How to Commit War Crimes with a Straight Face. Common Courage Press, 2005. Eight Presidents, and their lies and war crimes, including some of the Vietnam War era.
Perry, Charles. The Haight-Ashbury – A History. Vintage Books, Random House, New York. 1985. The center of the counter-culture – sex, drugs, and rock and roll.
Sallah, Michael and Mitch Weiss. Tiger Force – A True Story of Men and War. New York & Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 2006. An elite volunteer fighting force descends into a seven-month period of atrocities and war crimes.
Yuki, Tamura and Marilyn B. Young. Bombing Civilians: A Twentieth-Century History, The New Press, 2008. The modern phenomenon of indiscriminate bombing of civilians.
Photographs of the War
Griffiths, Phillips Jones. Vietnam Inc. Collier Books, New York. 1971. The War in photographs
Leroy, Catherine, Editor. Under Fire: Great Photographers and Writers in Vietnam. Random House, New York, 2005. The War’s photographs, and the stories of the photographers and their subjects.
Nonviolent Social Change
Cooney, Robert P. J. Jr. and Helen Michalowski. The Power of the People – Active Nonviolence in the United States. Culver City, CA: Peace Press, Inc. 1977. A history of nonviolence social change movements in America.
Gregg, Richard B. The Power of Nonviolence. J.B. Lippincott Company, Philadelphia, 2007.
Lynd, Staughton. Accompanying: Pathways to Social Change. PM Press. Oakland, California. 2013