Returns of War

Returns of War

South Vietnam and the Price of Refugee Memory

Nation of Nations

by Long T. Bui

Published by: NYU Press

256 pages, 6.00 x 9.00 in, 6 black and white illustrations

  • Paperback
  • ISBN: 9781479871957
  • Published: November 2018


  • Hardcover
  • ISBN: 9781479817061
  • Published: November 2018



The legacy and memory of wartime South Vietnam through the eyes of Vietnamese refugees

In 1975, South Vietnam fell to communism, marking a stunning conclusion to the Vietnam War. Although this former ally of the United States has vanished from the world map, Long T. Bui maintains that its memory endures for refugees with a strong attachment to this ghost country. Blending ethnography with oral history, archival research, and cultural analysis, Returns of War considers
stateless exiles.

Returns of War argues that Vietnamization--as Richard Nixon termed it in 1969--and the end of South Vietnam signals more than an example of flawed American military strategy, but a larger allegory of power, providing cover for U.S. imperial losses while denoting the inability of the (South) Vietnamese and other colonized nations to become independent, modern liberal subjects. Bui argues that the collapse of South Vietnam under Vietnamization complicates the already difficult memory of the Vietnam War, pushing for a critical understanding of South Vietnamese agency beyond their status as the war’s ultimate “losers.” Examining the lasting impact of Cold War military policy and culture upon the “Vietnamized” afterlife of war, this book weaves questions of national identity, sovereignty, and self-determination to consider the generative possibilities of theorizing South Vietnam as an incomplete, ongoing search for political and personal freedom.