SOLDIER by Anthony B. & James T. Wooten Herbert

SOLDIER

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KIRKUS REVIEW

The Vietnam War has already generated many books. Others will follow, as the killing the rotting. This personal account (with James Wooten) of a much decorated and dedicated career soldier who sacrificed his vocation for a principle -- that it ill becomes a nation constructed on the moral precepts of individual dignity and the right to life to commit and then seek to hide battlefield atrocities -- will find a prominent place in the literature of that ghastly war, no matter how many other memoirs and studies have been or will be written. Tony Herbert's story of how and why he came to expose American war crimes in Vietnam is important not so much because it was courageous for a lieutenant colonel indoctrinated with the military prerequisite of command loyalty to speak out publicly against his superiors (this was fully covered by the press last year), nor because he lays out the ugly dimensions of U.S. criminality and high-officer complicity (My Lai and Calley did that earlier). Rather, the compelling aspect of Soldier is Herbert's refusal to be truckled by the military establishment, to be intimidated or harassed into silence. Few of us undergo the testing of a Tony Herbert; we are left to wonder if we would have the toughness of fiber to stand up against professional ostracism and vilification for something so abstract as conscience and rectitude. Herbert's unequivocal affirmation of personal conviction in the face of overwhelming impersonal authority should remind his countrymen that in this war of no heroes there were a few.

Pub Date: Jan. 29th, 1972
Publisher: Holt, Rinehart & Winston