"Rooke offers us a fresh perspective on the Vietnam War through the drawings of correspondent and artist Gene Basset. We are asked to consider the war just as we consider the anticipation of death, moving through the inevitable stages of the human psychological condition, from denial through to acceptance. In many ways, America continues to struggle with acceptance of Vietnam and with acceptance of our current wars. This book challenges us to view war in the way we view death, with an inevitability we cannot ignore."—Bruce Sutor, MD, Consultant and Assistant Professor of Psychiatry at the Mayo Clinic
"Calling Gene Basset a cartoonist is like calling Da Vinci a pretty good sketch artist. He draws with his head, his heart, and hand, and holds a wonderful mirror. Rooke’s adaptation of the stages of grief is totally apt. Vietnam was the death of American innocence, and this book is a wonderful, insightful way to begin healing."—Steven Northup, former United Press International staff photographer, Saigon, 1965–66
"This is a truly worthy addition to the well-stocked shelves of books on the Vietnam War. Rooke writes with tremendous verve and wit and is a likeable and knowledgeable guide through a remarkable collection of sketches. The visual history of the Vietnam War is dominated by photography and film, so Gene Basset’s drawings provide a fresh and fascinating angle of vision. This book is more than a history, it is a meditation on grief in war."—Todd DePastino, author of Bill Mauldin: A Life Up Front
"This work is of real importance, not only for making Basset’s fine drawings more widely known but also for the unique perspective his visual commentary sheds on the Vietnam era. The book should appeal to those interested in history and psychology and especially to those interested in art."—Donald Myers, director, Hillstrom Museum of Art
"In 1965, editorial cartoonist Gene Basset was sent to South Vietnam by his newspaper publishing syndicate, the Scripps Howard News Service. . . . Basset produced scores of cartoons during his time 'in country,' and about eighty of his best cartoons have been gathered in this book. . . . Vietnam veterans will probably empathize with all or most of the scenes illustrated. All readers who are interested in comic history or in the early days of the American involvement in Southeast Asia will enjoy Gene Basset’s Vietnam Sketchbook."—The Journal of America's Military Past
In 1965, Gene Basset, a well-known political cartoonist, was sent to Vietnam by his newspaper publishing syndicate. His assignment: to sketch scenes of the increasingly controversial war in order to help the newspaper-reading public better understand the events occurring in Southeast Asia. In much the same way that M.A.S.H. gave viewers an irreverent, wry view of war and its devastating effects on citizens as well as soldiers, Basset’s sketches portray the everyday, often mundane, aspects of wartime with an intimate touch that eases access to the dark subject matter. In this affectionately curated collection, author, doctor, and longtime friend of the artist, Thom Rooke, deftly leads us through more than eighty of Basset’s cartoons, organizing his insights according to the well-known stages of grief, from denial to acceptance, and demonstrating how Basset’s images convey moments of trauma, coping, and healing.
From scenes of American GIs haggling with Vietnamese street vendors to a medic dressing the wounds of a wide-eyed soldier, Basset’s endearing sketches and Rooke’s friendly prose humanize life during wartime. The seriocomic vignettes and analyses are delivered with wit, compassion, and subtle charm sure to please academic, artistic, and casual readers alike.
About the Author
Gene Basset is an American cartoonist primarily known for his editorial cartoons. He was the chief editorial cartoonist with Scripps Howard newspapers for twenty years. In 1982, Basset joined the staff of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, where he worked until his retirement in 1992. His work has been exhibited at the Pratt Institute, and in 2005, drawings done by Basset during a trip to Vietnam were exhibited at Gustavus Adolphus College.
Thom Rooke is professor of medicine at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota. He holds an endowed chair in vascular medicine and is former head of the Section of Vascular Medicine and director of the Gonda Vascular Center.
7 x 10, 142 pages, 86 black and white illustrations, 1 maps