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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A welcome addition to the literature on immigration told by an author who understands the issue like few others.

THE UNDOCUMENTED AMERICANS

The debut book from “one of the first undocumented immigrants to graduate from Harvard.”

In addition to delivering memorable portraits of undocumented immigrants residing precariously on Staten Island and in Miami, Cleveland, Flint, and New Haven, Cornejo Villavicencio, now enrolled in the American Studies doctorate program at Yale, shares her own Ecuadorian family story (she came to the U.S. at age 5) and her anger at the exploitation of hardworking immigrants in the U.S. Because the author fully comprehends the perils of undocumented immigrants speaking to journalist, she wisely built trust slowly with her subjects. Her own undocumented status helped the cause, as did her Spanish fluency. Still, she protects those who talked to her by changing their names and other personal information. Consequently, readers must trust implicitly that the author doesn’t invent or embellish. But as she notes, “this book is not a traditional nonfiction book….I took notes by hand during interviews and after the book was finished, I destroyed those notes.” Recounting her travels to the sites where undocumented women, men, and children struggle to live above the poverty line, she reports her findings in compelling, often heart-wrenching vignettes. Cornejo Villavicencio clearly shows how employers often cheat day laborers out of hard-earned wages, and policymakers and law enforcement agents exist primarily to harm rather than assist immigrants who look and speak differently. Often, cruelty arrives not only in economic terms, but also via verbal slurs and even violence. Throughout the narrative, the author explores her own psychological struggles, including her relationships with her parents, who are considered “illegal” in the nation where they have worked hard and tried to become model residents. In some of the most deeply revealing passages, Cornejo Villavicencio chronicles her struggles reconciling her desire to help undocumented children with the knowledge that she does not want "kids of my own." Ultimately, the author’s candor about herself removes worries about the credibility of her stories.

A welcome addition to the literature on immigration told by an author who understands the issue like few others.

Pub Date: May 19, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-399-59268-3

Page Count: 208

Publisher: One World/Random House

Review Posted Online: Jan. 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2020

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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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