Vietnam’s Prodigal Heroes examines the critical role of desertion in the international Vietnam War debate. Paul Benedikt Glatz traces American deserters’ odyssey of exile and activism in Europe, Japan, and North America to demonstrate how their speaking out and unprecedented levels of desertion in the US military changed the traditional image of the deserter.
Paul Benedikt Glatz is independent scholar.
Introduction: Reconstructing a Marginalized History
Chapter 1: Stepping Out: The Appearance of American Deserters and the International Debate on War
Chapter 2: The Deserters’ 1968: Exile Organizing, Politicization and the Struggle for Recognition
Chapter 3: Asylum and Exile: Consolidation of the Swedish Sanctuary, Community Building and Exile
Chapter 4: Amnesty: Deserters and the Debate over Clemency, Exoneration, and Vindication of Vietnam
Conclusion: History, Memory and Activism
Here, at last, is the go-to book on a major, unique, and scandalously neglected feature of the Vietnam War: the organized international movement of American deserters. Paul Benedikt Glatz’s scholarship is meticulous, insightful, and well-balanced. His fluency in several languages allows him to explore—and bring to life—the battles swirling around the deserters in several nations. All future work on the Americans who deserted the Vietnam War will owe a great debt to this invaluable book.
Today, in the United States, there is a move to whitewash the tragedy, disaster, and criminality of the U.S. war against Vietnam. Vietnam’s Prodigal Heroes shows the viewpoint of soldiers who were actually there, as well as others who were at risk of being sent there and chose to desert. Glatz has left no stone unturned in his efforts to portray a realistic view of deserters, one not often presented to the general public. This book will help to defeat the sanctimonious pronouncements of today’s politicians.
This is a great book, loaded with primary documentation, much of it French, German, and Swedish. Glatz locates the origins of military desertion during the war in Vietnam in Europe and then positions it within the larger matrix of antiwar activism. Had it been available, my own work over twenty years would be peppered with references to Vietnam’s Prodigal Heroes.
In his very well researched and balanced book, Paul Benedikt Glatz has made a most valuable contribution to the history of the anti-Vietnam War movement. With its publication, Vietnam's Prodigal Heroes becomes the essential source in understanding the complicated issue of U.S.military deserters during the war and what happened to them and why after the war's end.
The American War in Vietnam was the most controversial war of aggression since the end of World War II. Deserters strike at the heart of the military-industrial complex. This transnational study is an important milestone towards understanding a major seachange in popular attitudes and militant actions to question authority.
Paul Benedikt Glatz’s Vietnam's Prodigal Heroes is a deeply-researched, well-written analysis of the motivations and often courageous actions of American soldiers who expressed their opposition to the Vietnam War by deserting. Glatz has given us an important and nuanced addition to the scholarship of antiwar dissent during America’s most controversial war.
In Vietnam’s Prodigal Heroes, Paul Benedikt Glatz focuses his attention on U.S. military desertion, one of the most controversial aspects of America’s Vietnam War. Based on extensive research, this sympathetic but judicious account portrays military desertion as an act of dissent, reviving and expanding the complex story of the deserter communities, their support networks, and the international dimensions of anti-Vietnam War dissent.
A fine work of scholarship that I heartily recommend.