Platoon: Of Heroes and Demons

Platoon: Of Heroes and Demons

“I keep thinking,” Michael Herr writes in Dispatches, “about all the kids who got wiped out by seventeen years of war movies before coming to Vietnam to get wiped out for good. . . . We’d all seen too many movies.. ..” It is a wonderful and horrible epigram. The Vietnam War was indeed a screened event, and it lingers exactly like a movie in the mind, inseparable from the images by which it came to us around dinner, or wedged between Bonanza and the late night show. And Herr is surely right that many of those who fought in Vietnam cut their teeth on Audie Murphy and John Wayne, who were our Achilles and Aeneas, ancient longings in modern form.

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Lima