Bringing God to Men

American Military Chaplains and the Vietnam War

By Jacqueline E. Whitt

312 pp., 6.125 x 9.25, 2 tables, notes, bibl., index

  • Paperback ISBN: 978-1-4696-1294-2
    Published: February 2014
  • eBook ISBN: 978-1-4696-1295-9
    Published: February 2014

Buy this Book

For Professors:
Free E-Exam Copies

Awards & distinctions

2016 Richard W. Leopold Prize, Organization of American Historians

During the second half of the twentieth century, the American military chaplaincy underwent a profound transformation. Broad-based and ecumenical in the World War II era, the chaplaincy emerged from the Vietnam War as generally conservative and evangelical. Before and after the Vietnam War, the chaplaincy tended to mirror broader social, political, military, and religious trends. During the Vietnam War, however, chaplains' experiences and interpretations of war placed them on the margins of both military and religious cultures. Because chaplains lived and worked amid many communities--religious and secular, military and civilian, denominational and ecumenical--they often found themselves mediating heated struggles over the conflict, on the home front as well as on the front lines.

In this benchmark study, Jacqueline Whitt foregrounds the voices of chaplains themselves to explore how those serving in Vietnam acted as vital links between diverse communities, working personally and publicly to reconcile apparent tensions between their various constituencies. Whitt also offers a unique perspective on the realities of religious practice in the war's foxholes and firebases, as chaplains ministered with a focus on soldiers' shared experiences rather than traditional theologies.

About the Author

Jacqueline E. Whitt is assistant professor of strategy at the Air War College.
For more information about Jacqueline E. Whitt, visit the Author Page.

Reviews

“Highly recommended. All levels/libraries.”--Choice

“A major achievement. . . . Whitt has provided an excellent resource for understanding the impact of Vietnam on the modern chaplaincy, and an excellent defense of chaplaincy against its critics. All military chaplains, especially those in supervisory roles, should read this work.”--Cercles

“For those seeking to write more personal and less institutional, cultural, or political studies—and for anyone interested in the Vietnam War--Bringing God to Men offers a foundational investigation of the subject.”--Journal of American History

“A detailed account of chaplains during the Vietnam War. . . . [A]n interesting review of an often overlooked aspect of the conflict.”--On Point: The Journal of Army History

"Engaging and fascinating." --American Historical Review

"Fresh and illuminating . . . persuasively refutes the long-established and prevailing narrative that chaplains sold out their religious role and obligations for promotion and professional approval."--Journal of Church and State

Multimedia & Links

Follow the author on Twitter @notabattlechick.

Listen: Whitt talks to Bob Wintermute in this interview for the New Books in Military History podcast. (7/5/2014, running time 1:07:30)

Read: In a guest blog post, Whitt discusses how the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell has affected military chaplains two years after the legislation was repealed. Read "Cooperation without Compromise: Military Chaplains’ Responses to the End of DADT" (2/17/2014).

Read: In another guest blog post, Whitt explores how today’s military chaplains mediate and field arguments between both sides of the “War on Christmas” debate. Read "Merry Chrismahanukwanzakah from Uncle Sam."(12/18/2013).