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Visiting My Lai

July 2024
1min read

The February/March 1998 issue carries a story titled “My Lai, Thirty Years After” (“My Brush With History”), whose author, Rachel Snyder, is an assistant professor at DePaul University in Chicago. Ms. Snyder says that she “taught Vietnam War literature for nearly three years.” Yet in her story she says that Highway 1, which follows the Vietnamese coast, is the Ho Chi Minh Trail. That famed network of roads was actually deep inland, largely in Laos, and it was so central to the conduct of the war that even a casual student should know that it was not on the coast. One wonders how literature can be taught devoid of its historical context.

Ms. Snyder’s error can be dismissed as just another example of the disconnect too often seen between the worlds of theory and history. But can we so easily excuse the editor for letting such an obvious mistake be perpetuated?

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