Comparing the documentary Hearts and Minds by Peter Davis with the book, Dispatches by Michael Herr.

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To far too many people, Vietnam and the conflict there remains a mystery. To some, it was the only war America has ever lost. To others, a senseless venture into a land we did not know, politics we did not understand, and an enemy far better able to fight in jungle terrain than American soldiers. Vietnam is history- and not very pleasant or comforting history. Hearts and Minds- the title comes from a Lyndon Johnson speech, depicts not merely the cruelty and callousness of both Americans and Viet Cong- but is far more politically against our involvement. Dispatches is an objective, but just as frightening series of reports from Esquire's war correspondent, Michael Herr.

It is interesting to compare the documentary Hearts and Minds with the book, Dispatches. It is one thing to read about events by a correspondent, and quite something else to actually witness the horrors of war, and the comments both by politicians from Eisenhower to Nixon defending involvement in Vietnam, and then interviews with some who opposed Vietnam.

The documentary even showed some veterans who felt some sort of regrets. And yet, one scene that stands out is a navy officer lecturing a classroom of children, and when one girl asked what Vietnam was like the answer was: "It's a beautiful country, if it weren't for the people". Hearts and Minds shows us brutality. And here one has to blame some of the Americans- not merely, as in one scene, shooting a young Viet while the camera continues to focus, but also GIs soliciting prostitutes. We see many scenes of crying children, citizens with missing limbs, burial of the dead, wounded moaning soldiers who had no idea really why they were even in this land of jungles thousands of miles from home. This is...