Why Are We in Vietnam: A Novel
G. P. Putnam's Sons, 1967. 208 pages. A novel about a hunting trip to Alaska.
First edition (first printing); without the dedication page. A fine copy in a somewhat scuffed dust jacket with light chipping to the spine head. With a warm inscription by the author on the front free endpaper: "To Don Kaufmann / with recollection of the fine and hungover morning we left Anchorage with [future Poet Laureate of Florida] Ed Skellings and flew over (or under) Mt. McKinley on our way to Fairbanks. Next night a debate with Ralph Ellison at the University of Alaska and sensations of magnetic north being near indeed. Norman Mailer / Sept. '75, Maine." Forty-two years later, upon Mailer's death, Kaufmann wrote about this 1965 plane ride during what would be Mailer's first and only trip to Alaska in a memoriam titled "Norman Mailer in 'God’s Attic,'" which described Mailer's request to the pilot to buzz the top of McKinley, which he did, repeatedly. Kaufmann wrote, "During that twenty-minute hello to Denali, I could not foresee Mailer’s next novel, Why Are We in Vietnam? (1967), oddly entitled because the word “Vietnam” appears but once—in the book’s final phrase, “Vietnam, hot dam.” Most of the novel’s “hot dams” took place in Alaska and mostly in remote, stark wilderness—the Brooks Range." Kaufmann published his critical study of Mailer, Norman Mailer: The Countdown (The First Twenty Years) in 1969.