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.
SubtitleArt, Memory, and the Fight for a Vietnam War Memorial
AuthorJames Reston, Jr.
Published5 September 2017
Dimensions6.00 x 9.00in.
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.
"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
"A crisply written narrative . . . The author details in exemplary fashion what was so important and influential about his subject's life and works." Library Journal (on Luther's Fortress)
"Fast paced and engaging. This is excellent reading." Library Journal (on Defenders of the Faith)
"James Reston, Jr. has written a readable, enjoyable and professional popular history of a crucial era of Muslim-Christian conflict. . . . A skilled and highly experienced professional writer." Washington Times (on Defenders of the Faith)
"(Reston) imposes narrative clarity on a kaleidoscopic array of historical events. . . . He enlivens his chosen principals' movements on the political and religious chessboard and evaluates how they worked out." Booklist (on Defenders of the Faith)
"A compact and gripping behind-the-scenes narrative . . . Intelligent, compassionate." Washington Post (on The Conviction of Richard Nixon)
"Reston has crafted a riveting memoir. . . . A welcome flashback for those still infatuated with one of America's darkest political hours." Los Angeles Times (on The Conviction of Richard Nixon)
"An engaging and highly readable book . . . The events in Dogs of God may have taken place more than 500 years ago, but there are times when they seem chillingly, worryingly familiar." Washington Post (on Dogs of God)
"In an energetic style unfettered by scholarly jargon or too many footnotes, Reston brings alive the conflict between the Catholic and the Muslim and how the conflict still resonates today." USA Today (on Dogs of God)