Art and Architecture, History, Reviews

The Zippo as protest art

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Sherry Buchanan’s new book Vietnam Zippos: American Soldiers’ Engravings and Stories has been receiving attention from some very different sources recently. This month both Playboy magazine and a magazine called The Armchair General are running reviews of the book. Yet despite the two magazine’s obvious disparities, both seem to agree that Vietnam Zippos offers a unique medium of expression for the often marginalized voices of the American GI’s that served in Vietnam. From Playboy magazine:

For American soldiers in Vietnam, the Zippo lighter was an essential talisman; its chrome casing was also a convenient canvas on which fighters expressed their anger and frustration. In Vietnam Zippos, edited by Sherry Buchanan, these unique artifacts tell the story of a war gone sour. Lyndon Johnson’s observation that “ultimate victory will depend upon the hearts and minds of the people” inspired the gleeful savagery of “Give me your hearts and minds or I will wreck your f—ing huts.”… Later, as enthusiasm for the war ebbed, lighters feature such deep thoughts as “When the power of love is as strong as the love of power, then there will be peace.”

Also be sure to check out the Armchair General article online here.