ALL SOULS' DAY by Bill Morris


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 An angry, moving, ingenious blend of fact and fiction about the early stages of the war in Vietnam. As in Motor City (1992), Morris again demonstrates a keen interest in using fiction to unravel the origins of modern American dilemmas. That debut novel dealt with the rise of corporate culture (and the automobile) in the US. This one, set largely in Vietnam in 1963, uses a series of vividly rendered characters to probe the reasons for the disastrous chain of events that left us mired in an unwinnable war. Sam Mallory, an embittered former Navy frogman, has left the service after some horrific secret missions in Vietnam. He's drawn slowly, unwillingly, but inescapably back into the war by his growing passion for Anne Sinclair, a bright, honorable young woman serving as the assistant to the director of the US Information Service. Anne, at first convinced of her country's noble intentions, uncovers secret cables and memos proving that the American military and State Department are cynically maneuvering to overthrow the corrupt Diem regime, that they are well aware of the size and vitality of the Communist forces, and that they are blithely lying to the public about the nature of American involvement. When they discover how and when the loathsome Diems will be overthrown, Sam reluctantly goes into action. Even though we know that the Diems were deposed and murdered, Sam's attempt to save them, confound American plans--and secure Anne's respect--is gripping. And Morris's portrait of a wide-open Saigon in 1963, of the conflicting plots and agendas of agents and generals, hustlers and correspondents, patriots and mercenaries (including both fictional and actual figures), is exact, acidic, and convincing. While the prose is occasionally only serviceable, Morris's version of the moment when America, out of duplicity and arrogance, became tragically enmeshed in Vietnam, is deeply moving, a persuasive vision of the greatest tragedy in our recent past. (Author tour)

Pub Date: June 1st, 1997
ISBN: 0-380-97453-3
Page count: 336pp
Publisher: Avon/HarperCollins
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1st, 1997


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