The ill-fated Pueblo sails again, ""an unfit ship with an inexperienced crew on an unsuccessful, perhaps unnecessary...


A MATTER OF ACCOUNTABILITY: The True Story of the Pueblo Affair

The ill-fated Pueblo sails again, ""an unfit ship with an inexperienced crew on an unsuccessful, perhaps unnecessary mission,"" into unexpected hot water and humiliating capture off the coast of North Korea. Though Commander Bucher himself has told the true story as perceived aboard Pueblo (p. 628), journalist Armbrister has collared enough Navy, Defense, and State Department officials to be able to fill in with inglorious detail and many direct quotes what was going on (and not going on) back at headquarters, command stations, and the Pentagon. Less complete than Bucher's record on the crew's experience under North Korean attack and in North Korean prisons, this still offers a surfeit of unextraordinary information on the Pueblo men and their backgrounds and much dull, documentary detail on the Pueblo's pre-crisis days. Bucher, though obviously smarting and critical of Navy negligence, didn't try to fix the blame in his book. Armbrister, under less constraint, agrees with Representative Otis Pike that ""there's blame enough for everybody here."" The preface is quite outspoken in faulting the ""system""--""By focusing on that system as it functioned--and malfunctioned--before, during, and after the seizure of USS Pueblo, I hope to enable readers to understand more fully the illness which afflicts the military today""--but the body of the book doesn't quite live up to this truculent overture. The narrative points out some mistakes and misjudgments as they occur, yet it's not till the epilogue that Armbrister returns, briefly and inconclusively, to the larger questions: the rigidity of the military establishment, the cumbersomeness of the military-civilian command structure, the limitations of American power. The compleat reporter, Armbrister reconstructs the events and raises the right issues, but there's no ardent advocacy or reforming zeal.

Pub Date: July 27, 1970


Page Count: -

Publisher: Coward-McCann

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 1970

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