An all-encompassing, multidimensional examination of the 1968 My Lai massacre by a distinguished group of historians, military men, journalists, poets, and novelists. Most compilations of academic conference papers are dry affairs filled with essays written in yawn-Inducing academese. Facing My Lai, on the other hand, is made up primarily of reader-friendly transcripts of remarks made at roundtable discussions that were held at a three-day Tulane University conference in December 1994, 25 years after the infamous massacre. Anderson (History and Political Science/Univ. of Indianapolis) has edited judiciously and chosen wisely from the words of the accomplished conferees. The participants included journalists David Halberstam and Seymour Hersh, poets John Balaban and W.D. Ehrhart, historians George Herring and Stephen Ambrose, military strategy analyst Col. Harry Summers, and psychiatrist Robert J. Lifton. Also on hand were two Vietnam veterans who acted honorably and courageously in connection with My Lai: Hugh Thompson Jr., a former helicopter pilot who rescued Vietnamese civilians during the massacre, and Ron Ridenhour, a former infantryman who learned of the massacre and did not rest until the story was made public. The book's highlights include Thompson's emotionally wrenching firsthand testimony; Herring's illuminating essay on the reasons why the Vietnam War was different from other American wars; Summers's thoughtful comments on leadership in the military; Patience Mason's adroit mix of personal and professional reflections on post-traumatic stress disorder; and conference co-organizer Randy Fertel's summarizing essay on the conference's goals and accomplishments. One theme was the debate over whether My Lai was an aberration. Most conferees argued that the massacre was not, as Herring put it, ``typical in any sense.'' But others disagreed, seeing My Lai as symptomatic of how the war was prosecuted by the US. Thoughtful and thought-provoking ideas on a still- controversial topic.

Pub Date: Jan. 15, 1998

ISBN: 0-7006-0864-8

Page Count: 216

Publisher: Univ. Press of Kansas

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 1997

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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...


Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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For Howard Zinn, long-time civil rights and anti-war activist, history and ideology have a lot in common. Since he thinks that everything is in someone's interest, the historian—Zinn posits—has to figure out whose interests he or she is defining/defending/reconstructing (hence one of his previous books, The Politics of History). Zinn has no doubts about where he stands in this "people's history": "it is a history disrespectful of governments and respectful of people's movements of resistance." So what we get here, instead of the usual survey of wars, presidents, and institutions, is a survey of the usual rebellions, strikes, and protest movements. Zinn starts out by depicting the arrival of Columbus in North America from the standpoint of the Indians (which amounts to their standpoint as constructed from the observations of the Europeans); and, after easily establishing the cultural disharmony that ensued, he goes on to the importation of slaves into the colonies. Add the laborers and indentured servants that followed, plus women and later immigrants, and you have Zinn's amorphous constituency. To hear Zinn tell it, all anyone did in America at any time was to oppress or be oppressed; and so he obscures as much as his hated mainstream historical foes do—only in Zinn's case there is that absurd presumption that virtually everything that came to pass was the work of ruling-class planning: this amounts to one great indictment for conspiracy. Despite surface similarities, this is not a social history, since we get no sense of the fabric of life. Instead of negating the one-sided histories he detests, Zinn has merely reversed the image; the distortion remains.

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1979

ISBN: 0061965588

Page Count: 772

Publisher: Harper & Row

Review Posted Online: May 26, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 1979

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