The Soundtrack of the Vietnam War

Doug Bradley and Craig Werner

In We Gotta Get Out of This Place, Doug Bradley and Craig Werner place popular music at the heart of the American experience in Vietnam. They explore how and why U.S. troops turned to music as a way of connecting to each other and the world back home and of coping with the complexities of the war they had been sent to fight. They also demonstrate that music was important for every group of Vietnam veterans—black and white, Latino and Native American, men and women, officers and “grunts”.

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In The Media

NPR Wisconsin Public Radio - Veteran And Professor Share Story of Vietnam War Through Music

Music and the Vietnam War

Doug Bradley and Craig Werner discuss their new book We Gotta Get Out of This Place: The Soundtrack of the Vietnam War, which was selected by Rolling Stone Magazine as the number 1 book about music for 2015.

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Channel 3000 - WISC TV - News 3 - Madison

For The Record:

Madison pair author book about music and the Vietnam War

Neil Heinen talks to a pair of Madison men who wrote a book about the relationship between music and the Vietnam War.

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NPR Wisconsin Public Radio - Veteran And Professor Share Story of Vietnam War Through Music


Veteran And Professor Share Story of Vietnam War Through Music

How do you fathom the experience of fighting a war? For two Madison authors, it’s with the music of the era and soldiers’ unique experiences of those songs — from songs protesting the war, songs supporting it, and songs that were never intended to do either.

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We Gotta Get Out Of This Place: Music In the ‘Nam

Guests: Craig Werner and Douglas Bradley, Authors

Interviewed by: Rachel Rubin

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wumb common wealth - We Gotta Get Out Of This Place: Music In the 'Nam

The Sound of Ideas - War and Popular Music

The Sound of Ideas – War and Popular Music

The popular music of the Vietnam era has become a soundtrack cliché in the many movies and documentaries about that conflict.  But, for veterans, some of those songs bring back powerful memories and emotions.  A new book explores the connections that soldiers have with those songs.

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The Vietnam War Divided The Country,
But Music United The Troops

Here & Now’s Eric Westervelt speaks with the co-authors of “We Gotta Get Out of This Place: The Soundtrack of the Vietnam War,” Douglas Bradley and Craig Werner.

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What’s The Buzz About?

  • “Intimate and deeply informative, with a scope that encompasses both the war itself and the way that music has helped raise awareness of veterans’ issues long after its end.”

  • “A sentence from We Gotta Get Out of This Place: The Soundtrack of the Vietnam War, by Doug Bradley and Craig Werner jumped out of the page and hit me: “The music of the Sixties somehow bridged that gap for a generation that was being torn apart by Vietnam.” I never imagined that my song “I Feel Like I’m Fixin’ To Die Rag” would reach soldiers in Vietnam fighting the war.”

    Country Joe McDonald
  • “A compelling work of historical writing, We Got to Get out of This Place isn’t so much about the music of the time of the Vietnam War, but about the people who listened to the music and how the music affected their lives. As you would expect of any fine work of music history, it provides a clear and interesting analysis of how the culture and events of the time shaped the music of the time. However, the book goes beyond this.”

    Karl Marlantes
    author of "Matterhorn" and "What It Is Like To Go To War"
  • “When you realize the average age of a combat soldier in Vietnam was 19, you can better appreciate how music would be indelibly written into the experiences of that powerfully formative time.  We were the “counter-culture” generation that fought and rock and roll was our music.”

    Bobby Muller
    Bobby Muller, 2nd Battalion, 3rd Marines, Vietnam 1968-69 Founder and President, Vietnam Veterans of America
  • We Gotta Get Out of This Place is chock full of materials that present multi-voiced memories of how popular music related to the experiences of American GIs in and after the Vietnam War. The book will appeal to veterans, and in many ways is written by, for, and to them. But students and fans of popular music history, the history of the 1960s, and the history of war will also find it an engaging and worthwhile read.”

    Michael J. Kramer
    author of "The Republic of Rock: Music" and "Citizenship in the Sixties Counterculture"
  • “Of the many ways to relate the story of the Vietnam war, few are more vibrant and accessible than the way Doug Bradley and Craig Werner tell it in We Gotta Get Out of This Place. Music is the universal language, but to the soldiers in Vietnam, the songs of the sixties carried a special weight that both defined their existence and helped them survive. I devoured this book.”

    David Maraniss
    author of "They Marched into Sunlight, War and Peace, Vietnam and America, October 1967"
  • On its surface, We Gotta Get Out of this Place is a history of the music of the Vietnam generation. But Doug Bradley and Craig Werner do much more than that. They give us an innovative glimpse into the experiences of U.S. servicemen at war and a vivid example of the powerful role music played in their lives.

    Tomás F. Summers Sandoval, Jr.
    author of "Latinos at the Golden Gate"
  • The authors understand more kinds of music, more songs, and more troops of more kinds than anyone else who’s written about the American military experience in Vietnam. Whether you read it because you are interested in the war, the music, the politics, or because you’re still trying to figure out what hell was going on, We Gotta Get Out of This Place will be a revelation.”

    Dave Marsh
    author, "The Heart of Rock and Soul" and "Bruce Springsteen: Two Hearts"

Meet The Authors

"We Gotta Get Out of This Place: The Soundtrack of the Vietnam War" co-author Craig Werner.
Craig Werner


Craig Werner

Craig Werner is a cultural historian whose books include Up Around the Bend: An Oral History of Creedence Clearwater Revival; Higher Ground: Aretha Franklin, Stevie Wonder, Curtis Mayfield and the Rise & Fall of American Soul; and A Change Is Gonna Come: Music, Race & the Soul of America.

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Doug Bradley

Doug Bradley has written extensively about his Vietnam, and post-Vietnam, experiences. Drafted into the U. S. Army in March 1970, he served one year as an information specialist (journalist) at U. S. Army Republic of Vietnam (USARV) headquarters near Saigon.

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