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No Direction HomeThe American Family and the Fear of National Decline, 1968-1980$
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Natasha Zaretsky

Print publication date: 2007

Print ISBN-13: 9780807830949

Published to North Carolina Scholarship Online: September 2014

DOI: 10.5149/9780807867808_zaretsky

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Homeward Unbound

Homeward Unbound

Prisoners of War, National Defeat, and the Crisis of Male Authority

(p.25) 1 Homeward Unbound
No Direction Home

Natasha Zaretsky

University of North Carolina Press

This chapter examines the Nixon administration's 1968–1973 publicity campaign to call the public's attention to the plight of American prisoners of war (POWs) and their families and how it combined the themes of military defeat abroad and male absenteeism within the home by featuring ubiquitous images of families without fathers. It shows how these images, originally intended to sanctify the national cause with regard to the Vietnam War, took on new meanings as POW wives—influenced by the rise of feminism—became more independent in their husbands' absences and did not want to relinquish it upon repatriation. The chapter also discusses the theme of male absenteeism in relation to those missing in action, and how it translated into a critique of a supposedly weak and corrupt federal government that had “left men behind”.

Keywords:   publicity campaign, prisoners of war, military defeat, male absenteeism, Vietnam War, feminism, missing in action, families

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