The second point, which flows from this portrayal and from the near universal judgment that this was the best novel about the War, is that it is mere generational bigotry that has allowed us to glorify the WWII generation and vilify the Viet Nam generation. There's a kind of a cottage industry cranking away these days that is paying obeisance to the cohort of Americans who survived the Depression and fought WWII (the "good war")--for example, the two Clinton campaigns saw innumerable unfavorable comparisons of veterans Bush & Dole and draft dodger Clinton, Tom Brokaw has a book out eulogizing the "The Greatest Generation" and, for Hollywood to make a positive War movie, they had to go back to WWII for Private Ryan. On the one hand, the earlier generation is being idealized beyond recognition; on the other, the boomers are caricatured as the source of all evil. I would be the last person to defend the Flower Children, but I think it's important not to let their parents off the hook.
Much of the literature (as opposed to the movies) of WWII, books like Catch-22 (read Orrin's review), The Caine Mutiny, Naked and the Dead, Thin Red Line (read Orrin's review), Hiroshima (read Orrin's review), Man in the Grey Flannel Suit, etc. is ultimately, not just anti-war, but anti-World War II. They are not the testaments of a righteous generation of confident heroes. They are as filled with self doubt and self loathing as anything that the Viet Nam generation produced. Moreover, in one important respect they are worse, because while the Viet Nam literature condemns the actions American soldiers perpetrated against others, the WWII literature laments what the war did to the American soldiers. The tragedy in a Viet Nam novel comes when the Americans destroy a village, in the WWII books the tragedy is how unpleasant the War was for American GI's. Wah! Wah! Wah! Cry me a river...
My generation was lucky, I guess. We never had a war of our own (other than the general Cold War) and I doubt that we would have produced a literature that was any more edifying. But I think it's high time that we bring the hammer down on the chest beating and self congratulations of the WWII generation. As books like The Naked and the Dead reveal, they too were a "me generation". It is little wonder that their children were even worse.