A large collection of clippings -- statements by American commentators and American officials and South Vietnamese allies --...

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A large collection of clippings -- statements by American commentators and American officials and South Vietnamese allies -- on the Indochinese war, from 1940 to 1973. The format is a highly problematic one. Of course, especially over the course of the '60's, most of those quoted now look like fools or maniacs or both, with the corner always about to be turned and the end of the tunnel just coming into sight. But the persons who bear the brunt of the responsibility -- Maxwell Taylor, William Westmoreland, Lyndon Johnson, et al. -- have already been quite discredited, while there is only one little quote from, for example, James Reston. The early pro-war comments of the Kennedys and William Fulbright are included, however, and the news weeklies' shifts and turns are heavily covered. But there is no sense of whether anyone was duped or duping, since the book's explicit intention is to engender a sort of ""ah, the human race is so blind"" tremor, not hard historical judgment. The clippings have a Scarlatti flow, accordingly, providing few watersheds for the average reader: the war itself, and the peace negotiation intrigues, seem to lack developmental shape, beyond the recurrent ""cautious optimism"" and ""substantial enemy losses"" and ""we seek no wider war."" Certainly among these clippings there are striking documentations (Marshal Ky was more profuse in his admiration of Hitler than most Americans recall). But the impact of the collage as a whole is not merely to discredit authorities and policies; it is to undercut a sense of coherence, leaving outrage to dissipate into fatigue.

Pub Date: Jan. 14, 1974

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: Lyle Stuart

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 1974