Bridgewater profs get published

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Two assistant professors of history at Bridgewater College have published books on topics that couldn’t be more widely divergent – the Yugo, famous as the worst car of all time, and the history of nursing in the Vietnam War.

The husband and wife team of Jason C. Vuic and Kara Dixon Vuic have published, respectively, The Yugo: The Rise and Fall of the Worst Car in History and Officer, Nurse, Woman: The Army Nurse Corps in the Vietnam War. Jason Vuic has appeared on many national news programs, such as Fox News’ “Fox and Friends” and National Public Radio’s “All Things Considered,” while Kara Vuic most recently participated in a successful book signing at the Smithsonian Institution.

Jokes such as ” How do you increase the value of a Yugo? Fill the gas tank,” helped make the Yugoslavian-produced Yugo a punch line the world over just months after the car first rolled off its Eastern European assembly line in 1985. The short, unhappy story behind this ineptly designed and shoddily built car is the crux of Jason Vuic’s engaging and often funny new book.

“Mix one rabid entrepreneur, several thousand ‘good’ communists, a willing U.S. State Department, the shortsighted Detroit auto industry and improvident bankers, shake vigorously, and you’ve got The Yugo: The Rise and Fall of the Worst Car in History,” said Vuic, who has worked at Bridgewater since 2003.

In 17 chapters with engaging titles such as “Yugo Girls,” “It’s Going to Be a Bloodbath” and “The Yugo is a No-Go,” Vuic traces the birth, evolution and commercial death of what was frequently described as a tin can on wheels. The vehicle was so bad, said Vuic, that listeners of the NPR show “Car Talk” voted it “the Worst Car of the Millennium.”

Vuic’s book is published by Hill and Wong, a division of Farrar, Strauss and Giroux of New York.

At the more serious end of the research spectrum is Kara Dixon Vuic’s Officer, Nurse, Woman: The Army Nurse Corps in the Vietnam War. The book is the only one on the market that offers an in-depth, exhaustively researched look at nurses in Vietnam, why they joined the Army Nurse Corps, what happened to them during and after the war, and the social-cultural context in which they served.

Vuic, who has taught at Bridgewater since 2006, began the book as a dissertation in graduate school. Her research included delving into thousands of documents unseen since the Vietnam War and interviewing some 100 former Vietnam nurses, many of whom provided her with personal images to use in the book.

“I think what I’d like people to understand when they read my book is how complicated it was to be a woman at that time – to be a woman and in the army,” Vuic said. “And while I wanted it to be an academic book, I also wanted it to be something that a nurse who served at that time could pick up and read and understand. I wanted it to be a story, as well.”

Officer, Nurse, Woman is published by The Johns Hopkins University Press. Both books are available at all commercial and online outlets.

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