The Wages of War

The Wages of War: When American Soldiers Came Home – From Valley Forge to Vietnam. 

The Wages of WarR. Severo and L. Milford. New York, NY:

Simon & Schuster Inc., 1989.

ISBN: 0-671-54325-3.

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

This disturbing study chronicles the U.S. government’s shabby treatment of its soldiers and veterans throughout our history. One major exception: the generous benefits granted during the post-World War II “orgasm of euphoria.” Severo, author of Lisa H. , and Milford, a Vermont attorney, describe the graft and waste in various veterans’ administrations, the massive bungling in the management of veterans’ hospitals, the almost consistent reluctance with which the government grants assistance to needy men and women who served in time of war. The authors collect an impressive amount of fresh information, including material on the use of Agent Orange in Vietnam (” . . . when America decided it would use chemicals to deny crops and cover to the enemy in Vietnam, and not care very much about the effects, either on civilians or on its own soldiers”), and provide an account of the recent class action brought against the manufacturers. The book offers a convincing perspective of the experience of Vietnam veterans, arguing that “the uncaring attitude demonstrated by the government toward its former soldiers” is nothing new. First serial to Military History Quarterly magazine.
Copyright 1989 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

Those who have served their nation in war have usually been neglected by it afterwards. The plight of the Vietnam veteran is only the most recent chapter in a national disgrace: For example, Americans intent on forgetting the divisions of Civil War forgot the soldiers as well; men who became ill from disease during the “splendid little war” against Spain returned to “medical” facilities that were scandalously mismanaged, as was the Veterans’ Bureau after the World War 1. World War II veterans alone were well treated. Intent on bringing home an indictment, the authors neglect contrary evidence. Nearly 30 years after the Civil War, for example, veterans’ pensions comprised over 40 percent of all federal outlays. High school and college students will appreciate the passion and clarity of the argument; scholars will find the book problematic for much the same reasons.
– Mark C. Carnes, Barnard Coll., Columbia
Copyright 1989 Reed Business Information, Inc.


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