The Vietnam War on Film

by David Luhrssen


How accurate are Hollywood's portrayals of the Vietnam War era?

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Cover image for The Vietnam War on Film

May 2019


Pages 170
Volumes 1
Size 6 1/8x9 1/4
Topics American History/Conflict
  Popular Culture/Film

Vietnam War on Film illustrates how to employ film as a teaching tool. It also stands on its own as an account of the war and the major films that have depicted it.

Even for many people who experienced the Vietnam War first hand, memories of that conflict have often been shaped by the popular films that depicted it: The Quiet American, The Green Berets, The Deer Hunter, Coming Home, Platoon, Full Metal Jacket, and Apocalypse Now, among others. Vietnam War on Film examines how the war is portrayed through a selection of ten iconic films that represent the war through dramatization and storytelling as opposed to through documentary footage.

The book includes an introduction to the war's history and a timeline of events, followed by ten chapters, each of which focuses on a specific Vietnam War movie. Chapters offer a uniquely detailed level of historical context for the films, weighing their depiction of events against the historical record and evaluating how well or how poorly those films reflected the truth and shaped public memory and discourse over the war. A final section of "Resources" provides a comprehensive annotated bibliography of print and electronic sources to aid students and teachers in further research.


  • Provides a unique guide to the Vietnam War experience for film history buffs, students and scholars of history, and fans of the cinema
  • Offers equal emphasis on the films themselves and the historical events depicted
  • Presents carefully researched and highly informative coverage
  • Stimulates debate over the various ways the war was interpreted and experienced
Series Description

Hollywood History

Just exactly how accurate are Hollywood's film and television portrayals of American history? What do these portrayals tell us, not only about the events they depict, but also the time in which they were made? Each volume in this unique reference series is devoted to a single topic or key theme in American history, examining eight to ten major motion pictures or television productions. Substantial essays will summarize each film, provide a historical background of the event or period it depicts, and explain how accurate the film's depiction is, while also analyzing the cultural context in which the film was made.
Author Info

David Luhrssen is managing editor of the Shepherd Express, Milwaukee's weekly newspaper. He is author or coauthor of several books, including Secret Societies and Clubs in American History, Elvis Presley, Reluctant Rebel, The Encyclopedia of Classic Rock, War on the Silver Screen, and Hammer of the Gods: The Thule Society and the Birth of Nazism. Luhrssen taught at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design, and Milwaukee Area Technical College. He received his BA and MA in cultural and intellectual history.



" absorbing, well-researched and well-documented study, a scholarly yet accessible book. Revealing of many truths that tend to be forgotten in the wake of popular entertainment, The Vietnam War on Film is an important record of the war and the art it inspired."Shepherd Express

In the News

NPR Milwaukee WUWM 89.7, 'The Vietnam War on Film': New Book Explores Accuracy of Vietnam War Depictions in TV & Film, 7/25/2019

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