A Distinguished and Bestselling Historian and Vietnam Vet 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.
“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 James Reston
James Reston Jr. is a senior scholar at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. The author of more than a dozen books, including Warriors of God and Dogs of God, he lives in Chevy Chase, Maryland.
About Jeff Cummings
Jeff Cummings, as an audiobook narrator, has won both an Earphones Award and the prestigious Audie Award in 2015 for Best Narration in Science and Technology. He is also a twenty-year veteran of the stage, having worked at many regional theaters across the country, from A Contemporary Theatre in Seattle and the Alliance Theatre in Atlanta to the Utah Shakespeare Festival in Cedar City and the International Mystery Writers’ Festival in Owensboro, Kentucky. He also spent seven seasons with the Oregon Shakespeare Festival.