The Gulf War and its aftermath have testified once again to the significance placed on the meanings and images of Vietnam by US media and culture. Almost two decades after the end of hostilities, the Vietnam War remains a dominant moral, political and military touchstone in American cultural consciousness. Vietnam War Stories provides a comprehensive critical framework for understanding the Vietnam experience, Vietnam narratives and modern war literature. The narratives examined - personal accounts as well as novels - portray a soldier's and a country's journey from pre-war innocence, through battlefield experience and consideration, to a difficult post-war adjustment. Tobey Herzog places these narratives within the context of important cultural and literary themes, including inherent ironies of war, the "John Wayne syndrome" of pre-war innocence, and the "heavy Heart-of-Darkness trip" of the conflict itself.