One, Two, Three, Four! We Don’t Want Your F**king War! The Vietnam Antiwar Movement in Young Adult Fiction

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This study of the representation of the anti–Vietnam War movement in 53 young adult novels published from 1967 to 2018 includes every young adult novel that lists the Vietnam War as its first or second Library of Congress subject descriptor. The teen characters who participate in the antiwar movement or question our government’s war policy are regularly ignored or vilified. Only 32 novels acknowledge the existence of an antiwar movement. Most novels equate antiwar sentiment with aggressive anti-soldier action, even though the historical record does not bear this out. When young readers are repeatedly shown protesters as vicious idiots who regularly attacked veterans, they learn that there is no legitimate way to question our country’s war policies. When they’re never shown active-duty GIs (many of whom were teens) and veterans who worked tirelessly as antiwar activists, this dishonors veterans. These representations, combined with images of protesters ubiquitously spitting on veterans and shouting “baby killer” at them, have served to discredit the antiwar movement and the young people involved in it.

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The Journal of Research on Libraries and Young Adults