In their 2015 award-winning book, We Gotta Get Out of This Place: The Soundtrack of the Vietnam War, Doug Bradley and Craig Werner placed popular music at the heart of the American experience in Vietnam. Over the next two years, they made more than 100 presentations coast-to-coast, witnessing honest, respectful exchanges among audience members. That journey prompted Bradley to write Who’ll Stop the Rain: Respect, Remembrance, and Reconciliation in Post-Vietnam America and to further explore how the music of the era, shared by those who served and those who stayed, helped create safe, nonjudgmental environments for listening, sharing, and understanding.
Those insights, and others, can help redefine America’s public memory of Vietnam, one that invites a broader public understanding, sometimes written physically into the landscape via monuments, about what we revere and what we regret about who we are and what Vietnam did to us.
A chorus of voices in Who’ll Stop the Rain—famous and anonymous, female and male, veteran and non-veteran, American and Vietnamese—suggests new possibilities for understanding the legacy of Vietnam and, ultimately, for bringing the men and women who served their country in that controversial war home for good.