Scars of War


Scars of War

The Politics of Paternity and Responsibility for the Amerasians of Vietnam

Sabrina Thomas
Foreword by Robert J. Mrazek

Borderlands and Transcultural Studies Series

368 pages


December 2021


$65.00 Add to Cart
eBook (EPUB)

(Requires Adobe Digital Editions)

December 2021


$65.00 Add to Cart
eBook (PDF)

(Requires Adobe Digital Editions)

December 2021


$65.00 Add to Cart

About the Book

Best First Book Award from the History Honor Society, Phi Alpha Theta

Scars of War examines the decisions of U.S. policymakers denying the Amerasians of Vietnam—the biracial sons and daughters of American fathers and Vietnamese mothers born during the Vietnam War—American citizenship. Focusing on the implications of the 1982 Amerasian Immigration Act and the 1987 Amerasian Homecoming Act, Sabrina Thomas investigates why policymakers deemed a population unfit for American citizenship, despite the fact that they had American fathers.

Thomas argues that the exclusion of citizenship was a component of bigger issues confronting the Nixon, Ford, Carter, and Reagan administrations: international relationships in a Cold War era, America’s defeat in the Vietnam War, and a history in the United States of racially restrictive immigration and citizenship policies against mixed-race persons and people of Asian descent.

Now more politically relevant than ever, Scars of War explores ideas of race, nation, and gender in the aftermath of the Vietnam War. Thomas exposes the contradictory approach of policymakers unable to reconcile Amerasian biracialism with the U.S. Code. As they created an inclusionary discourse deeming Amerasians worthy of American action, guidance, and humanitarian aid, federal policymakers simultaneously initiated exclusionary policies that designated these people unfit for American citizenship.

Author Bio

Sabrina Thomas is an associate professor of history and David A. Moore Chair in American History at Wabash College. Robert J. Mrazek is a former U.S. congressman of New York.


“Rigorously researched, captivatingly written, and compellingly argued, Scars of War details the legislative process surrounding migration programs for Vietnamese Amerasians. Thomas offers keen insight into the ways ideas about war, race, gender, and nation intersect in American thought and law.”—Amanda C. Demmer, author of After Saigon’s Fall: Refugees and U.S.-Vietnamese Relations, 1975–2000

Scars of War offers a new perspective that is important for understanding U.S. policy and also provides a window into the lives of marginalized people in Vietnam. It takes up complex issues of human rights and citizenship at a moment in world history when these problems are particularly visible and troubling.”—Karen Gottschang Turner, author of Even the Women Must Fight: Memories of War from North Vietnam

Scars of War makes the important, nuanced assertion that the denial of paternity and parental responsibility has shaped the exercise of American empire in Asia. Many scholars and journalists have explored the history of Amerasians, but not with the thoroughness and singularity of focus that this author deploys.”—Allison Varzally, author of Children of Reunion: Vietnamese Adoptions and the Politics of Family Migrations

Table of Contents

Foreword by Robert J. Mrazek
Author’s Note
1. Setting a Precedent
2. Saving Cold War Children
3. Becoming Refugees
4. Blood Politics
5. Window Dressing
6. The Amerasian Homecoming Act
7. “Like a Home without a Roof”


Best First Book Award from the History Honor Society, Phi Alpha Theta

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