SON THANG

AN AMERICAN WAR CRIME

A detailed recounting and insightful analysis of one of the worst war crimes of the Vietnam War. On the night of February 19, 1970, a five-man patrol from Company B, 1st Battalion, 7th Marines entered the hamlet of Son Thang, about 20 miles south of Danang. The patrol was known as a ``killer team,'' sent to hunt down and kill the enemy in an area heavily infiltrated by Viet Cong guerillas. In the previous week nine men from B Company were killed in the vicinity; that morning one Marine had died after he set off a booby-trap. The patrol found no enemy soldiers in the hamlet. Not a shot was fired at them. Nevertheless, they roused 16 women and children from three of the hamlet's huts and shot them. The next day the incident was discovered and, to the Marine Corps's credit, an investigation was immediately begun. Four of the Marines were charged with premeditated murder (one, who claimed he did not participate, cooperated with the investigation). Four months later the general courts-martial began. Two of the men were convicted; two were acquitted. Solis is the ideal chronicler of the incident: A retired Marine lieutenant colonel, he commanded troops in Vietnam and holds three law degrees. In a blunt narrative style he provides in-depth looks at the crime, the events that led up to it, and the complex legal wranglings that followed. His solid account includes on-target appraisals of the actions of all the participants. He characterizes the trials as ``a failure'' because of significant ``deficiencies'' in the military justice system, the main one being that some of the Marine Corps prosecutors tapped for the trial were relatively inexperienced, and were consistently outmaneuvered by high-powered civilian defense lawyers. Nevertheless, Solis says, the Marines received ``fair trials.'' A first-class job of reporting on a little-known atrocity of the war. (23 b&w photos, not seen)

Pub Date: June 1, 1997

ISBN: 1-55750-743-0

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Naval Institute Press

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 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...

NIGHT

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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A PEOPLE'S HISTORY OF THE UNITED STATES

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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