Encounters with Consumerism, Americanism, and the Early Arrival of Modernity in South Vietnam
This chapter focuses on the post exchange or PX, the place that preoccupied Thai volunteers and was central to their memories of South Vietnam, the war, and the American allies. The PX was a commissary that sold equipment, provisions, clothes, and sundry items to military personnel, their dependents, and, in some cases, civilians with special privileges. The US military built these shopping centers throughout the world to provide comfort and aid to its overseas military community. In South Vietnam, PX shops could be found in the larger American military camps and in major cities. The PX was where Thai troops immersed themselves in the peculiar expression of modern Western culture created by the US military, and assessed its associated values. It was the setting of their grandest revelations. And it was the site of their historical undoing, the place where they squandered their reputation as capable and committed fighters to assume the notoriety of opportunists, hustlers, and mercenaries. To many Thais, especially those in noncombat positions, the PX was the Vietnam War.
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