A Rift in the Earth: Art, Memory, and the Fight for a Vietnam War Memorial

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A Distinguished and Bestselling Historian and Army Veteran Revisits the Culture War that Raged around the Selection of Maya Lin's Design for the Vietnam Memorial
A Rift in the Earth tells the remarkable story of the ferocious “art war” that raged between 1979 and 1984 over what kind of memorial should be built to honor the men and women who died in the Vietnam War. The story intertwines art, politics, historical memory, patriotism, racism, and a fascinating set of characters, from those who fought in the conflict and those who resisted it to politicians at the highest level. At its center are two enduring figures: Maya Lin, a young, Asian-American architecture student at Yale whose abstract design won the international competition but triggered a fierce backlash among powerful figures; and Frederick Hart, an innovative sculptor of humble origins on the cusp of stardom.
James Reston, Jr., a veteran who lost a close friend in the war and has written incisively about the conflict's bitter aftermath, explores how the debate reignited passions around Vietnam long after the war’s end and raised questions about how best to honor those who fought and sacrificed in an ill-advised war. Richly illustrated with photographs from the era and design entries from the memorial competition, A Rift in the Earth is timed to appear alongside Ken Burns's eagerly anticipated PBS documentary, The Vietnam War. “The memorial appears as a rift in the earth, a long polished black stone wall, emerging from and receding into the earth."—Maya Lin
"I see the wall as a kind of ocean, a sea of sacrifice. . . . I place these figures upon the shore of that sea." —Frederick Hart
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About the author

James Reston, Jr. was an assistant to Secretary of the Interior Stewart Udall before serving in the US Army from 1965 to 1968. He is the bestselling author of seventeen books—including The Conviction of Richard Nixon: The Untold Story of the Frost/Nixon Interviews, which helped inspire the film Frost/Nixon (2008)—three plays, and numerous articles in The New Yorker, Vanity Fair, and the New York Times Magazine. He won the Prix Italia and Dupont-Columbus Award for his NPR radio documentary, Father Cares: The Last of Jonestown. He lives with his wife in Chevy Chase, Maryland.
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Additional Information

Publisher
Simon and Schuster
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Published on
Sep 5, 2017
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Pages
304
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ISBN
9781628728583
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Features
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Language
English
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Genres
Architecture / Buildings / Landmarks & Monuments
Biography & Autobiography / Artists, Architects, Photographers
History / Military / Vietnam War
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Eligible for Family Library

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In 1521, the Catholic Church declared war on Martin Luther. The German monk had already been excommunicated the year before, after nailing his Ninety-Five Theses—which accused the Church of rampant corruption—to the door of a Saxon church. Now, the Holy Roman Emperor Charles V called for Luther “to be apprehended and punished as a notorious heretic.” The edict was akin to a death sentence: If Luther was caught, he would almost inevitably be burned at the stake, his fragile movement crushed, and the nascent Protestant Reformation strangled in its cradle.

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