Between a River and a Mountain details American labor's surprisingly complex relationship to the American war in Vietnam. Breaking from the simplistic story of "hard hat patriotism," Wehrle uses newly released archival material to demonstrate the AFL-CIO's continuing dedication to social, political, and economic reform in Vietnam. The complex, sometimes turbulent, relationship between American union leaders and their counterparts in the Vietnamese Confederation of Labor (known as the CVT) led to dangerous political compromises: the AFL-CIO eventually accepted much-needed support for their Vietnamese activities from the CIA, while the CVT's need to sustain their relationship with the Americans lured them into entanglements with a succession of corrupt Saigon governments. Although the story's endpoint—the painfully divided and weakened labor movement of the 1970s—may be familiar, Wehrle offers an entirely new understanding of the historical forces leading up to that decline, unraveling his story with considerable sophistication and narrative skill.
"[A] fascinating, well-researched and important account of organized labor's support for the Vietnam War."
—Scott Stephens, Cleaveland Plain Dealer
"This book fills an important gap in the historical literature, not just in the history of U.S. labor but in an oft-neglected element of Vietnamese history. Edmund F. Wehrle treats readers to a much-needed review of the relationship between labor in the United States and South Vietnam during the war years."
—Clayton Sinyai, Laborers International Union of North America, American Historical Review
"Between a River and a Mountain is an important book. It is authoritatively researched, well written, and convincing. In writing this book, Edmund F. Wehrle has made a significant contribution towards a broader understanding of the labor movement in the United States, the transnational dimensions of U.S. labor, and the cultural impact of the Vietnam War."
—David Kieran, H-Net