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20th Century Warfare Topic of UCR Conference

20th Century Warfare Topic of UCR Conference

(October 6, 1999)

Veterans, historians and journalists will visit the University of California, Riverside between Oct. 21 and Nov. 7 to recall their own painful combat experiences and to debate the causes and consequences of war.

This series of public speeches and readings will be enriched by the voices of genuine war heroes, recipients of the Congressional Medal of Honor - the nation's highest military decoration - who will gather in Riverside in early November for a national convention.

The "War and Society" initiative at UCR, a series of public speakers, films and fine arts performances organized by the College of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences, recognizes the significance of that Congressional Medal of Honor Society convention.

Scheduled speakers include novelist Tim O'Brien, a Vietnam veteran who has won national and international prizes for his fiction about the war; and investigative journalist Mark Danner, of The New Yorker, whose expos? about strife in Haiti, Latin American and the former Yugoslavia earned him one of this year's MacArthur Foundation "genius" awards.

World War II experts Paul Fussell and Stephen Ambrose will speak; as will Korean War expert Bruce Cumings. Experts on the Vietnam war include George Mariscal, Marilyn Young, Fredrik Logevall and Mai Elliott. All of the speakers are noted for their interesting and sometimes contradictory opinions and essays relating to modern combat.

The authors will also speak to UCR students taking the three classes organized as part of the War and Society initiative: The Vietnam Era; the War Novel; and World War II.

Included here is the schedule of the public events that make up UCR's War and Society initiative.

A Web site at offers detailed information about the speakers, an ongoing Thursday night film series focusing on war; some background on the Congressional Medal of Honor and a place for members of the community to respond online to the ongoing debate.

Information about the event is available at (909) 787-3572.

War and Society Program
Public Events at the University of California, Riverside

Thursday, Oct. 21
12:40 p.m.
Mai Elliott - "The Sacred Willow: Four Generations in the Life of a Vietnamese Family" - HMNSS 2212

Thursday, Oct. 28
3:30 p.m.
Marilyn Young - "Korea: The Postwar War" Fred Logevall - Comment - HMNSS 1501

Friday, Oct. 29
3:00 p.m.
Marilyn Young/Fred Logevall/Brian Lloyd Panel - "The U.S. in Vietnam: Motives and Consequences" - HMNSS 1500

Monday, Nov. 1
7:30 p.m.
Mark Danner - "In the Shadow of Vietnam: Bosnia, Kosovo, and the American Way of War" - HMNSS 1500

Tuesday, Nov. 2
8 p.m.
Tim O'Brien - Reading - "The Things They Carried" - UNIV. THEATRE

Wednesday, Nov.3
2 p.m.
Tim O'Brien, Paul Fussell, Mark Danner Panel and Bruce Cumings - "Combat and Memory" - with Medal of Honor recipients - TERRACE ROOMS C & D

Thursday, Nov. 4
2 p.m.
Paul Fussell and Bruce Cumings Panel - "War and Popular Culture" - with Medal of Honor recipients - TERRACE ROOMS A & B
7:30 p.m.
Paul Fussell Presentation - "The Culture of War" - LS 1500

Friday, Nov. 5
12 p.m.
Bruce Cumings Presentation - "Just and Unjust Wars: The Case of Korea" - HMNSS 1500

Sunday, Nov. 7
12 p.m.
Steven Ambrose, First Congregational Church , 3755 Lemon, Riverside "World War II and its Impact on the 20th Century."

Tuesday, Nov. 9
3:30 p.m.
George Mariscal Presentation - HMNSS 1500 "Aztlan and Viet Nam: Chicana and Chicano Experience int the Viet Nam Era"

War & Society Speakers

Stephen Ambrose is one of the nation's foremost historians. He is a three-time New York Times best-selling author for D-Day, Citizen Soldiers and Undaunted Courage. He is also the biographer of Dwight D. Eisenhower and Richard Nixon. He is the founder of the Eisenhowser Center and President of the National D-Day Museum in New Orleans. Mr. Ambrose provides regular commentary on the History Channel, is featured in Roger Mudd's Great Authors of American History television show, and was the historical consultant for Steven Spielberg's film Saving Private Ryan.

Bruce Cumings, a recognized expert on the Korean War, is the Norman and Edna Freehling Professor in History at the University of Chicago, where he studies East Asian political economy and international history. His interest in East Asia started during his service as a Peace Corps volunteer in South Korea in the late 1960s. He earned his Ph.D. in political science and East Asian history from Columbia in 1975 and earned faculty appointments at Swarthmore College and the University of Washington before settling in the Chicago area in 1987. Cumings is the author of The Origins of the Korean War (in two volumes); War and Television; Korea's Place in the Sun: A Modern History; and Parallax Visions: Making Sense of American-East Asian Relations at the End of the Century. Cumings is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. His research has been funded by the MacArthur Foundation and the Mellon Foundation.

Mark Danner is a staff writer for The New Yorker specializing in foreign affairs. He has worked on the staff of the New York Review of Books, as senior editor of Harper's Magazine and as foreign affairs editor of The New York Times Magazine. He has co-written and co-produced two hour-long, award-winning documentaries for ABC News Peter Jennings Report. Danner is a frequent contributor to major magazines and guest on news analysis television programs. He is the author of The Massacre at El Mozote and Beyond the Mountains: The Legacy of Duvalier. During the 1998-99 academic year he is a visiting professor at the School of Journalism and the Human Rights Center at the University of California, Berkeley. This year he was named a 1999 MacArthur Fellow. MacArthur "genius awards" are given to individuals who show exceptional talent and creativity in their field.

Mai Elliott was born and raised in Vietnam and attended Georgetown University on a scholarship. She returned to Vietnam from 1963 to 1968 and worked for the Rand Corporation interviewing Viet Cong prisoners of war. She returned to the U.S. in 1968 and resides in Claremont, California. Her book, The Sacred Willow: Four Generations in the Life of a Vietnamese Family was published this year by Oxford University Press. It is both autobiography and family history of the author, whose full name is Duong Van Mai Elliott. The book follows the Duong family from the 19th century to the present and tells the story of mandarins at the imperial court, shopkeepers, Communist revolutionaries, and immigrants.

Paul Fussell, the Donald T. Regan Professor Emeritus of English at the University of Pennsylvania, is a noted scholar of British literature, and one of the most widely read authors on the experience of war, especially World War II. The Great War and Modern Memory won the 1976 National Book Award. On the 50th anniversary of the dropping of atomic bombs against Japan, he published an essay in The New Republic called "Thank God for the Atom Bomb." Later he published Wartime: Understanding and Behavior in the Second World War, and he edited the Norton Book of Modern War. As a First Lieutenant with two infantry divisions, he was wounded in France and blames himself for the death of two soldiers under his command. He is convinced that everything he has accomplished in life since the war, as a critic, scholar, teacher and author, is the result of a battle he wished had never happened. He was a professor at Rutgers University for many years before arriving at Penn in 1983. He retired 10 years later. His 1996 autobiography is, Doing Battle: The Making of a Skeptic.

Fredrik Logevall received his Ph.D. from Yale University in 1993 and is Associate Professor of History at the University of California, Santa Barbara where he specializes in the history of American foreign relations and co-directs the Cold War History Research Group. Among his several articles are "First Among Critics: Walter Lippmann and the Vietnam War," in the Journal of American-East Asian Relations (1995) and "Kennedy, Vietnam, and the Question of What Might Have Been," in Mark J. White's Kennedy: The New Frontier Revisited (1998). Logevall's book, Choosing War: The Lost Chance for Peace and the Escalation of War in Vietnam, was just published by the University of California Press to wide acclaim, including a long and laudatory review in The New York Times by former U.S. Ambassador Jack Matlock.

George Mariscal is an Associate Professor of Chicano and Spanish Literature at the University of California, San Diego. He is the author of Aztlan and Viet Nam: Chicano and Chicana Experiences of the War, published in 1999 by the University of California Press. Other writings include the 1991 book, Contradictory Subjects, which won the Modern Language Association prize for best book on a Spanish language topic. He is the author of numerous articles, including "Chale con la draft: Chicano/a Antiwar Writings," which appeared in Vietnam Generation: A Journal of Recent History and Contemporary Culture. Mariscal earned his Ph.D. at the University of California, Irvine. He studies 16th and 17th century Spanish Literature, Chicano culture, and U.S. minority literature of the Vietnam war era.

Tim O'Brien earned a political science degree from Macalester College in 1968 and was immediately drafted and assigned as a foot soldier with the U.S. Army division already infamous for the My Lai massacre. O'Brien studied at Harvard, worked as a national affairs reporter for the Washington Post and then settled into writing fiction set in the wrenching world of Vietnam. His first book, If I Die in a Combat Zone, Box Me Up and Ship Me Home, is about his own experience as a soldier in Vietnam. His 1978 novel, Going After Cacciato, won the National Book Award. In 1990, The Things They Carried, was a finalist for both the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Critics Circle Award. A short story by the same name was selected this year for inclusion in The Best American Short Stories of the Century, edited by John Updike. O'Brien's 1994 novel, In the Lake of the Woods, named best novel of the year by Time magazine, probes what is hidden in the heart of a Vietnam vet who participated in the My Lai massacre. A resident of Texas, O'Brien has earned numerous literary awards and has been elected to both the Society of American Historians and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

Marilyn B. Young is Professor of History at New York University where she specializes in foreign relations, third-world women and gender. She received her Ph.D in history from Harvard University in 1963 and has written extensively on the Vietnam war. Her thesis, and later her first book, explored the issues of American expansion at the turn of the century: Rhetoric of Empire, 1895-1901. As the Vietnam war escalated, she was active in the anti-war movement at the University of Michigan, joining Howard Zinn, George Kahin, Douglas Dowd and others on a trip to Paris in 1968 to meet with Vietnamese negotiators. The first course she taught on the war was in 1969 and, adjusting to historical circumstances, she has taught one almost every year since then. Prof. Young visited Vietnam for the first time in 1988 on a trip led by Don Luce, the man who first exposed the existence of the tiger cages. She has returned many times, including for a Gender Studies Summer Institute in Hanoi in 1996-97 funded by the Ford Foundation.

The University of California, Riverside ( is a doctoral research university, a living laboratory for groundbreaking exploration of issues critical to Inland Southern California, the state and communities around the world. Reflecting California's diverse culture, UCR's enrollment has exceeded 21,000 students. The campus opened a medical school in 2013 and has reached the heart of the Coachella Valley by way of the UCR Palm Desert Center. The campus has an annual statewide economic impact of more than $1 billion.

A broadcast studio with fiber cable to the AT&T Hollywood hub is available for live or taped interviews. UCR also has ISDN for radio interviews. To learn more, call (951) UCR-NEWS.

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