Interesting review. I was unemployed at the time (due to a work accident) and volunteered before & during the dedication ceremonies. For most of us doing this scut work, manning the phones to answer calls from fellow veterans, to hand out copies of the name locator guides, it was a labor of love.
Doubek, we read in the review, "thought the design focused too much on the dead and ignored the living." Excuse me, but that was the whole point. The kerfuffle over Maya Lin's design was irrelevant to me. The names of the dead were everything that mattered. It's what sets the Vietnam Memorial apart from the plethora of war memorials gracing our Nation's capitol. You want a war? This is what it costs. It makes a statement that ought to resonate.
Indeed, you are correct in pointing out how important the names of the dead were to the memorial. But of course, an important part of every memorial debate is the relationship the proposed site/structure/space inspires between the dead and the living. It is the living who have to do the work of remembering/commemorating/honoring the dead, and so consequently those involved in the building process are attendant to how well the memorial conveys its message of loss, service, sacrifice, violence, death, etc., through space and time.
I take your point, and it's true that Maya Lin's design initially evoked opposition -- the "gash in the earth" seemed to offend many veterans who wanted something more traditional. Therefore the VVMF Committee later authorized the statues representing soldiers (presumably in Vietnam) as a counterpoint to the Wall. Some of us shrugged. If it makes my brothers happy, so be it.