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Hanoi Jane: War, Sex, and Fantasies of Betrayal

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From Aristophanes’ Lysistrata to the notorious Mata Hari and the legendary Tokyo Rose, stories of female betrayal during wartime have recurred throughout human history. The myth of Hanoi Jane, Jerry Lembcke argues, is simply the latest variation on this enduring theme. Like most of the iconic femmes fatales who came before, it is based on a real person, Jane Fonda. And als From Aristophanes’ Lysistrata to the notorious Mata Hari and the legendary Tokyo Rose, stories of female betrayal during wartime have recurred throughout human history. The myth of Hanoi Jane, Jerry Lembcke argues, is simply the latest variation on this enduring theme. Like most of the iconic femmes fatales who came before, it is based on a real person, Jane Fonda. And also like its predecessors, it combines traces of fact with heavy doses of fiction to create a potent symbol of feminine perfidy—part erotic warrior-woman Barbarella, part savvy antiwar activist, and part powerful entrepreneur. Hanoi Jane, the book, deconstructs Hanoi Jane, the myth, to locate its origins in the need of Americans to explain defeat in Vietnam through fantasies of home-front betrayal and the emasculation of the national will-to-war. Lembcke shows that the expression “Hanoi Jane” did not reach the eyes and ears of most Americans until five or six years after the end of the war in Vietnam. By then, anxieties about America’s declining global status and deteriorating economy were fueling a populist reaction that pointed to the loss of the war as the taproot of those problems. Blaming the antiwar movement for undermining the military’s resolve, many found in the imaginary Hanoi Jane the personification of their stab-in-the- back theories. Ground zero of the myth was the city of Hanoi itself, which Jane Fonda had visited as a peace activist in July 1972. Rumors surrounding Fonda’s visits with U.S. POWs and radio broadcasts to troops combined to conjure allegations of treason that had cost American lives. That such tales were more imagined than real did not prevent them from insinuating themselves into public memory, where they have continued to infect American politics and culture. Hanoi Jane is a book about the making of Hanoi Jane by those who saw a formidable threat in the Jane Fonda who supported soldiers and veterans opposed to the war they fought, in the postcolonial struggle of the Vietnamese people to make their own future, and in the movements of women everywhere for gender equality.


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From Aristophanes’ Lysistrata to the notorious Mata Hari and the legendary Tokyo Rose, stories of female betrayal during wartime have recurred throughout human history. The myth of Hanoi Jane, Jerry Lembcke argues, is simply the latest variation on this enduring theme. Like most of the iconic femmes fatales who came before, it is based on a real person, Jane Fonda. And als From Aristophanes’ Lysistrata to the notorious Mata Hari and the legendary Tokyo Rose, stories of female betrayal during wartime have recurred throughout human history. The myth of Hanoi Jane, Jerry Lembcke argues, is simply the latest variation on this enduring theme. Like most of the iconic femmes fatales who came before, it is based on a real person, Jane Fonda. And also like its predecessors, it combines traces of fact with heavy doses of fiction to create a potent symbol of feminine perfidy—part erotic warrior-woman Barbarella, part savvy antiwar activist, and part powerful entrepreneur. Hanoi Jane, the book, deconstructs Hanoi Jane, the myth, to locate its origins in the need of Americans to explain defeat in Vietnam through fantasies of home-front betrayal and the emasculation of the national will-to-war. Lembcke shows that the expression “Hanoi Jane” did not reach the eyes and ears of most Americans until five or six years after the end of the war in Vietnam. By then, anxieties about America’s declining global status and deteriorating economy were fueling a populist reaction that pointed to the loss of the war as the taproot of those problems. Blaming the antiwar movement for undermining the military’s resolve, many found in the imaginary Hanoi Jane the personification of their stab-in-the- back theories. Ground zero of the myth was the city of Hanoi itself, which Jane Fonda had visited as a peace activist in July 1972. Rumors surrounding Fonda’s visits with U.S. POWs and radio broadcasts to troops combined to conjure allegations of treason that had cost American lives. That such tales were more imagined than real did not prevent them from insinuating themselves into public memory, where they have continued to infect American politics and culture. Hanoi Jane is a book about the making of Hanoi Jane by those who saw a formidable threat in the Jane Fonda who supported soldiers and veterans opposed to the war they fought, in the postcolonial struggle of the Vietnamese people to make their own future, and in the movements of women everywhere for gender equality.

41 review for Hanoi Jane: War, Sex, and Fantasies of Betrayal

  1. 4 out of 5

    Samantha

    Great Read. Exposes the cult of misogyny and toxic masculinity fueled into the hatred of Fonda. People should be focusing their anger on the policy that killed 58,000 GI's, 4,000,000 Vietnamese (counting agent orange and mine deaths after the war), 300,000 Laotians, 2 million Cambodians and 350,000 US vets who died of unnatural causes when they returned. Great Read. Exposes the cult of misogyny and toxic masculinity fueled into the hatred of Fonda. People should be focusing their anger on the policy that killed 58,000 GI's, 4,000,000 Vietnamese (counting agent orange and mine deaths after the war), 300,000 Laotians, 2 million Cambodians and 350,000 US vets who died of unnatural causes when they returned.

  2. 4 out of 5

    John Ward

    Really should be a 30 page essay

  3. 4 out of 5

    Diane Schneider

    An interesting look at the making of a myth. The author doesn't necessarily "debunk" Hanoi Jane, but makes a case for why certain elements of the legend stuck with us until the present day. The book also provides a look into what we perceive as truths about the Vietnam experience, and how they too may not represent the complete picture. An interesting look at the making of a myth. The author doesn't necessarily "debunk" Hanoi Jane, but makes a case for why certain elements of the legend stuck with us until the present day. The book also provides a look into what we perceive as truths about the Vietnam experience, and how they too may not represent the complete picture.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Laura Callanan

    Very interesting discussion of the origins and permutations of the "Hanoi Jane" myth in American Culture. Avoids jargon--Lembcke is a sociologist who effectively makes the case for the mythic nature of Jane Fonda's supposed traitorous activities during her trip to Vietnam and instead traces in detail the way the Right has made use of this trope. Very interesting discussion of the origins and permutations of the "Hanoi Jane" myth in American Culture. Avoids jargon--Lembcke is a sociologist who effectively makes the case for the mythic nature of Jane Fonda's supposed traitorous activities during her trip to Vietnam and instead traces in detail the way the Right has made use of this trope.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Matt Kelland

    A fascinating look at propaganda and how the Hanoi Jane myth occurred, along with many other beliefs about the Vietnam War. So many historical facts I took for granted turn out to be simply untrue, but have somehow become part of popular consciousness.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Marc

    Lembcke did his homework. His main conclusion seems logical: that "Hanoi Jane" is a myth promulgated well after the fact by those who wanted to blame the result of the Vietnam on the antiwar movement. Lembcke did his homework. His main conclusion seems logical: that "Hanoi Jane" is a myth promulgated well after the fact by those who wanted to blame the result of the Vietnam on the antiwar movement.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Sean

  8. 4 out of 5

    Lawrence

  9. 4 out of 5

    Jay Gazula

  10. 5 out of 5

    Mark Mason

  11. 5 out of 5

    Sarah

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    Sonya

  13. 5 out of 5

    Liz

  14. 5 out of 5

    Steven

  15. 4 out of 5

    Frederic

  16. 4 out of 5

    Candace Gylgayton

  17. 5 out of 5

    Aaron Bonham

  18. 5 out of 5

    Chris Huff

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    Heather Chandler

  20. 4 out of 5

    Nick

  21. 5 out of 5

    Mathew Reyes

  22. 5 out of 5

    Daniel Ward

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    Melanie

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    Az

  25. 4 out of 5

    Jennifer

  26. 5 out of 5

    Paul

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    Kirk

  28. 4 out of 5

    Walk-Minh Allen

  29. 5 out of 5

    Dave

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    LPenting

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    Frederic

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    Angela

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    Niket

  34. 5 out of 5

    Scotmanart Thoreaubillybudd

  35. 5 out of 5

    Lisa

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    Karen

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    Lucy Benson

  38. 5 out of 5

    Alice

  39. 5 out of 5

    Julie

  40. 5 out of 5

    Patrick

  41. 5 out of 5

    Cassandra

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