In 1961, the space race between the Soviet Union and the United States was heating up, relations between Cuba and the U.S. were cold, and soon after John F. Kennedy’s inauguration as America’s youngest president, he asked Congress to fund a new Peace Corps. The Peace Corps had its inception in a campaign speech Kennedy gave on the Michigan campus in October 1960, when he challenged students to consider spending at least part of their lives helping the poor overseas. Read more about The Peace Corps: What Could Be More Berkeley? »
When telling a story, and it doesn’t matter if that story is long or short, fiction or nonfiction, the marginalized writer must be defiant.
So says writer Viet Thanh Nguyen.
Defiant is not the first descriptor that comes to mind for this particular writer, a Vietnamese refugee and UC Berkeley alumnus, who in fall 2016 wore a royal blue suit, purple tie, and orange socks at the Pulitzer awards banquet in Manhattan to accept the Fiction award for his debut novel, The Sympathizer (Grove Press, 2015). Flamboyant, maybe. Defiant, no. Read more about Vietnam Stories: Writing the "Disremembered" Histories of War »
I enlisted in 1966, in the Navy, so that I wouldn’t be sent to Vietnam. But it didn’t work out that way. I was sent to work as an advisor to the Vietnamese Navy’s swift boat operations in Qui Nhon, north of Nha Trang; beautiful country, beautiful people.
We had about ten boats operating there, and about 20 U.S. personnel. The mission was to patrol the coast to make sure the North Vietnamese weren’t coming in with contraband. We also worked with Seal Team One insertions and did MEDCAPs, where we’d take corpsmen or doctors in to treat villagers without medical care. Read more about "Did You Kill Anybody?" I Just Didn't Say Anything, Because People Didn't Have a Clue »
Lately, I’ve been thinking about an incident that happened in 1965, seven years before I was born. It centered on an antiwar protest in Berkeley, one of the first of countless such protests to come. Though just a blip in the grand scheme of Vietnam era turmoil, it seems to point to something important about America and the nature of patriotism.
It starts with a guy named “Tiny.” Tiny was 6’7” and 300 pounds. And he really liked to fight. Read more about Angels, Protesters and Patriots: What a Long-Ago Skirmish Says About Love of Country »