Arts of War By Marc Leepson

Welcome to “Arts of War,” Vietnam Veterans of America’s up-to-the-minute compendium of information, news and reviews about the arts—movies, television, stage plays, musicals, music, dance, popular and fine arts, and more—that deal with Vietnam veterans and the Vietnam War.

This web page replaces the “Arts of War” column that ran in Vietnam Veterans of America’s national magazine, The VVA Veteran, from 1986-2009. That popular column was written by The VVA Veteran’s arts editor, Marc Leepson, who continues that work on this web site.

We encourage feedback. Please email your comments, questions, and suggestions to

Posted on January 28th 2009 in Comments

The Photography of Muhammad Abdus-Sabur in NYC




“Fruit Harmony”


The current exhibition at the Agora Gallery in New York City is an impressive selection of photography by the painter and photographer by Muhammad Abdus-Sabur, who—among many other things—served in the U.S. Navy during the Vietnam War.

The show, titled “Illumination: An Exhibition of Fine Art Photography, ” opened earlier this month and runs through November 24. The gallery is in Chelsea at  530 W. 25th Street. Hours are Tuesday through Saturday, 11:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.

Posted on November 14th 2015 in Art, Art Exhibits

New VN War Exhibit Opens at Army Heritage Center in Carlisle, Pa.



To commemorate the fiftieth anniversary of the start of U.S. combat operations in the Vietnam War, the U.S. Army Heritage and Education Center at the Army War College in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, will open a new exhibit today, November 6, called “Courage, Commitment, and Fear: The American Soldier in the Vietnam War.” The exhibit features the first-person stories of Army veterans of the Vietnam War. The curators of the exhibit say that its emphasis is on “honorable service and varied experiences of the American soldier in the Vietnam War.”

The exhibit includes realistic representations of a spider hole and several booby traps so that visitors can get a feeling for some of the things American troops faced on the ground in Vietnam. There’s also a film called  “Our Journey Through War,” which has interviews with Vietnam veterans and their families.

The exhibit will be on display for two years. The opening ceremony is free and open to the public. For more info, go to or call 717-245-3972.

Posted on November 6th 2015 in History, Museums, Vietnam War

New HBO Doc on Richard Holbrooke


Richard Holbrooke was an important voice in U.S. foreign policy from his first State Department assignment in 1963 as a civilian AID worker in South Vietnam until his death in 2010. Along the way, he served two stints as Assistant Secretary of State, and also was U.S. Ambassador to Germany and U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations.

Holbrooke served in Vietnam with AID and at the U.S. Embassy in Saigon, and later as an important Vietnam War adviser to President Lyndon Johnson. He also helped write The Pentagon Papers—the secret official DOD history of the Vietnam War. He was part of the U.S. delegation to the Paris Peace talks during the war and in 1977, as Assistant Secretary of State, started talks with Vietnamese officials to re-establish relations.

Holbrooke is the subject of a new documentary, The Diplomat, which was put together by his son David Holbrooke. It will be shown tonight for the first time on HBO at 8:00 p.m. Eastern time.

“David Holbrooke frames the film partly as a career retrospective and partly as his own rediscovery of his father, who was often absent while he was growing up,” Neil Genzlinger wrote in his New York Times review of the doc. “He puts just enough of himself and his extended family into ‘The Diplomat’ to give it some audience-friendly poignancy.

“Mr. Holbrooke’s early work in South Vietnam as a newbie in his early 20s made him a witness to history, and not history at its finest. ‘He can see McNamara asking the wrong questions, getting wishful answers,’ George Packer, Mr. Holbrooke’s biographer, says, referring to a visit to the country by Robert S. McNamara, then the secretary of defense.”

Posted on November 2nd 2015 in Documentaries, History, On TV, Vietnam War

Jefferson Starship Free Concert in D.C. Nov. 8



One of the highlights of Vietnam Veterans of America’s National Convention in July was the live appearance of Jefferson Starship at the Tuesday evening Welcome Home concert.

The Starship—still rocking in 2015, as those who saw them perform at the Convention will attest—will present a Salute to America Concert in honor of Vietnam veterans and their families on Sunday, November 8, at 2:00 p.m. at DAR Constitution Hall in Washington, D.C. The concert, also starring the Grass Roots, is free and open to the public. All seats are reserved, and are available only through Ticketmaster on-line for a processing fee of $2.

There is no limit on the number of tickets you can order, and you do not have to be a veteran to receive tickets. For more information, email

Posted on October 29th 2015 in Music

‘American Boys’ Wins Big Book Honor


Journalist Louise Esola‘s book, American Boys, which we reviewed on The VVA Veteran‘s Books in Review II page back in January, has been named the grand prize winner of the Writer’s Digest Self-Published Book Awards for 2015.

The book tells the story of the USS Frank E. Evans—a Navy destroyer cut in two by an Australian aircraft carrier in the South China Sea off the coast of Vietnam in 1969—and the ongoing quest to have the names of those who perished engraved on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial.

“I self-published American Boys after years of trying to get a publisher—by way of three literary agents—to take on a Vietnam War book,” Esola said. “This story is important to a lot of people.”

Escola’s article, “The Continuing Tragedy of the USS Frank E. Evans, appeared in the July/August print issue of The VVA Veteran.

Posted on October 15th 2015 in Book News, History, Honors and Prizes, Vietnam War

Eddie Adams’ Enduring Vietnam War Photos

Eddie Adams, who died in 2004, was one of the most accomplished photojournalists of the Vietnam War. Working for the Associated Press, Adams spent more than three years covering the war. He received the Pulitzer Prize for photography for takng one of the war’s most iconic photos: of South Vietnamese Gen. Loan shooting a Viet Cong lieutenant in the head in the streets of Saigon during Tet ’68.

Fifty of Adams’ rarely viewed photos, including the two black-and-white shots above, were on exhibit from May 25 through September 11 at the Dublin Arts Council in Ohio. A large collection of his work is for sale at the Monroe Gallery of Photography in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

“Eddie’s genius is his talent for capturing tension in every photo, whether it be the still of a murder or the animation in the eyes of a movie star,” said former Parade magazine editor-in-chief Walter Anderson, a Vietnam veteran who received the VVA Excellence in the Arts Award at the 2015 National Convention. “He is eclectic, incomparable and cantankerous. He is unyielding in the pursuit of excellence.”

Adams in Vietnam during the war



Posted on October 10th 2015 in Art Exhibits, Photography, Vietnam War

‘Children of the April Rain’ Play in D.C. Nov. 10

Vietnam Babylift, the nonprofit dedicated to honoring Operation Babylift—the massive evacuation of children from South Vietnam in the waning days of the Vietnam War in April 1975— is sponsoring a staged reading of the play “Children of the April Rain” on November 10, at 6:00 p.m. at the Women in Military Service to America (WIMSA) Memorial Theater at Arlington National Cemetery.

This free event on the eve of Veterans Day in the Nation’s Capital is being produced by the actor/director Dan Franko and will include a cast of veteran actors. A reception will follow the reading.

For more info email Lana Noone, who for many years has run the website at

Posted on October 7th 2015 in Drama, Plays, Vietnam War

‘The Draft': New Vietnam War Play

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“The Draft,” a new multimedia play dealing with the Vietnam War and how ten young men respond to their greetings from Uncle Sam, opens at Hiberian Hall in Roxbury, Massachusetts, tomorrow, September 10. The show runs through Sept. 20, with subsequent performances slated for Westfield State University in Westfield, Mass., Trinity College in Hartford, Conn., and The Academy of Music in Northhampton, Mass.

According to playwright  Peter Noad, the play “tells the real-life stories of ten young Americans and the choices they made in response to the military draft during the U.S. war in Vietnam. They accepted the call to serve and saw combat; refused to cooperate and did jail time; won conscientious objector status and organized for civil rights and against the war; evaded the draft and counseled others on their options; chose self-exile in Canada; and cared for the wounded and traumatized.”


Posted on September 9th 2015 in Drama, On Stage, Plays

Tony Gleaton, 1948-2015


Tony Gleaton, a photographer best known for his images of the American West, Southwest and Mexico, died August 14 at age 67 in Palo Alto, California. Gleaton, who specialized in black-and-white photos of  African American cowboys and people of color in Latin America, was born in Detroit and enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps after he graduated from high school in 1966. After  his service in the Marines, which included a tour of duty in the Vietnam War, Gleaton studied photography at UCLA; the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, Calif.; and at UC Berkeley.

Gleaton spent three years as a fashion photographer in New York before heading west, where he found his life’s work. An exhibition of his work in Mexico sponsored by the Smithsonian Instuitution called “Africa’s Legacy in Mexico”  was shown in galleries around the country  the 1990s.

“One of the interesting things about Tony was that he could do more with less,” Bruce Talamon, the executor of the Tony Gleaton Photographic Trust, told The New York Times. “By that I mean as we live in a time of celebrity photographers with big budgets, and untold numbers of assistants and stylists, Tony would have a small bag with one medium-format camera, one lens, $5 in his pocket, and a few rolls of Tri-X film. He always shot in available light. He could find beautiful light everywhere he went.”


Posted on September 2nd 2015 in Obituaries, Photography

Don Oberdorfer, 1931-2015


Don Oberdorfer, a long-time diplomatic correspondent who covered the Vietnam War for The Washington Post and was the author of the well-regarded  look at the 1968 Tet Offensive, Tet! (1971), died July 23 in Washington, D.C. He was 84 and had Alzheimer’s disease.

Born in Atlanta,  Oberdorfer graduated from Princeton University in 1952 and served in the U.S. Army in Korea after the end of the war. He worked for The Charlotte Observer, The Saturday Evening Post and Knight Newspapers, then in 1968 was hired at The Washington Post. He retired from journalism in 1993, and was Distinguished Journalist in Residence and Adjunct Professor of International Relationsat John Hopkins University’s Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies in Washington, D.C.

“By every standard and almost every account, the Tet Offensive was among the great events of the 1960s and possibly one of the great events of our times,” he wrote in The Post in 1978. “It is also among the most paradoxical and seemingly inexplicable. How . . . could Tet have been both a defeat for the attacker abroad and a defeat for the government at home?”

The Tet Offensive, he said, was “the first international Big Event, via television, remains one for historians to ponder.”

Posted on July 30th 2015 in Book News, History, Obituaries