Le prigioni fantasma della guerra del Vietnam. Note sul mito americano dei prigionieri di guerra


  • Stefano Rosso




In the early 1990s about 70 percent of Americans believed that some 2,000 US Army soldiers were still being held captive in secret prisons in Vietnam, despite there being no proof that any prison camps had survived in South East Asia after the Fall of Saigon (1975). Elaborating on the limited bibliography available, this essay examines the strategies adopted by the Nixon Administration, some independent organizations, and the future Presidential candidate Ross Perot, to shift the focus from the people actually fighting and dying in the Vietnam War to these imaginary prisoners. These strategies involved politicians of both major parties, celebrities from the star system and the media. It will also be seen how a substantial part of American popular culture helped to disseminate the myth of the Prisoners of War (POWs) and the Missings in Action (MIAs) through fiction, cinema, TV and comics (and later video games). Only the great works of literature generated by the Vietnam War (e.g. by Tim O’Brien and Michael Herr) abstained from taking part in this major falsification plot.


Apocalypse Now. Francis Ford Coppola, United Artists, 1979.
Belew, Kathleen. Bring the War Home: The White Power Movement and Paramilitary America. Cambridge:
Harvard University Press, 2018.
Born on the Fourth of July (Nato il quattro luglio). Oliver Stone, Universal Pictures, 1989.
Braddock: Missing in Action III (Rombo di tuono III). Aaron Norris, Cannon Films, 1988.
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Coming Home (Tornando a casa). Hal Ashby, United Artists, 1978.
Dog Tags (Il collare della vergogna). Romano Scavolini, Cinevest Entertainment, 1987.
Ehrenreich, Barbara. Riti di sangue. All’origine della passione della guerra. 1997. Milano: Feltrinelli, 1998.
Evans-Pfeiffer, Kelly e Stanley I. Kutler. “POW/MIA Controversy.” Encyclopedia of the Vietnam War. A cura
di Stanley I. Kutler. New York: Scribner’s, 1996. 442-444.
Forgotten Warrior. Nick Cacas e Charlie Ordoñez, Monarch Home Video, 1986.
Franklin, H. Bruce. M.I.A. or Mythmaking in America: How and Why Belief in Live POWs Has Possessed a
Nation. 1992. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 1993.
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Young e Robert Buzzanco. Malden, MA e Oxford, UK: Blackwell, 2002. 317-332.
Full Metal Jacket. Stanley Kubrick, Warner Bros., 1987.
Gardens of Stone (Giardini di pietra). Francis Ford Coppola, TriStar Pictures, 1987.
Gibson, James William. Warrior Dream: Violence and Manhood in Post-Vietnam America. New York: Hill and
Wang, 1994.
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Columbine, 1994. 119-126.
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Literature and Research. A cura di James S. Olson. Westport, CT e London: Greenwood Press, 1993.
Missing in Action (Rombo di tuono). Joseph Zito, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, 1984.
Missing in Action II – The Beginning (Missing in Action). Lance Hool, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, 1985.
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Fighting in Vietnam. Lanham, MD & London: The Scarecrow Press, 1996.
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Operation Nam/Cobra Mission. Larry Ludman (Fabrizio De Angelis), Delta, 1986.
P.O.W. The Escape/Behind Enemy Lines (Vietnam la grande fuga). Gideon Amir, Cannon Films, 1986.
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The Big Chill (Il grande freddo). Lawrence Kasdan, Columbia Pictures, 1983.
The Deer Hunter (Il cacciatore). Michael Cimino, Universal Pictures, 1978.
Uncommon Valor (Fratelli nella notte). Ted Kotchef, Paramount Pictures, 1983.
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traumatiche. Milano: Cortina, 2015.
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White Ghost (La sporca guerra). B.J. Davis, Trans World Entertainment, 1987.






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