THE LONG RECKONING

A STORY OF WAR, PEACE, AND REDEMPTION IN VIETNAM

One of the best recent books on a war that ended half a century ago but that still reverberates.

A searching look at the devastation wrought by America’s war in Vietnam and efforts by veterans to help undo it.

“By the end of the second decade of the twenty-first century, the politburo of the Vietnamese Communist Party had designated tourism a ‘spearhead industry,’ and Vietnam was welcoming close to 18 million foreign visitors a year,” writes journalist Black. The tourist attractions did not include the generations of Vietnamese born with horrific birth defects attributable to Agent Orange or missing limbs thanks to unexploded bombs and shells. Enter two Americans who had served in the field during the awful year of 1968. Having wrestled with guilt and PTSD for years after their service, they decided to return to Vietnam and launch efforts to locate and remove unexploded ordnance and remediate rural areas poisoned by chemicals. That program was initiated, Black reveals, under the Kennedy administration, before Vietnam became a full-throated American war. An ironic surprise is that Kurt Vonnegut’s brother designed a technique to flood trails used by the North Vietnamese and Viet Cong so that they would become sticky masses of mud, clear inspiration for the Ice-Nine of Cat’s Cradle. Black sets much of this vivid narrative on the ground, painstakingly documenting the death-dealing technology America deployed against an enemy—and a civilian populace—that was vastly outgunned but bent on victory. The combat scenes are appropriately scarifying, and a key moment comes when one of the veterans returns with Black to the site of an ambush that killed many men in his unit. Just as effective is the author’s account of the politics of international aid and the people who joined, with the two veterans, in their expiatory efforts: Quaker volunteers, epidemiologists and medical researchers, Vietnamese officials, and, most importantly, other veterans seeking redemption and resolution.

One of the best recent books on a war that ended half a century ago but that still reverberates.

Pub Date: March 28, 2023

ISBN: 9780593534106

Page Count: 496

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: Jan. 11, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2023

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KILLERS OF THE FLOWER MOON

THE OSAGE MURDERS AND THE BIRTH OF THE FBI

Dogged original research and superb narrative skills come together in this gripping account of pitiless evil.

Awards & Accolades

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    Best Books Of 2017


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  • National Book Award Finalist

Greed, depravity, and serial murder in 1920s Oklahoma.

During that time, enrolled members of the Osage Indian nation were among the wealthiest people per capita in the world. The rich oil fields beneath their reservation brought millions of dollars into the tribe annually, distributed to tribal members holding "headrights" that could not be bought or sold but only inherited. This vast wealth attracted the attention of unscrupulous whites who found ways to divert it to themselves by marrying Osage women or by having Osage declared legally incompetent so the whites could fleece them through the administration of their estates. For some, however, these deceptive tactics were not enough, and a plague of violent death—by shooting, poison, orchestrated automobile accident, and bombing—began to decimate the Osage in what they came to call the "Reign of Terror." Corrupt and incompetent law enforcement and judicial systems ensured that the perpetrators were never found or punished until the young J. Edgar Hoover saw cracking these cases as a means of burnishing the reputation of the newly professionalized FBI. Bestselling New Yorker staff writer Grann (The Devil and Sherlock Holmes: Tales of Murder, Madness, and Obsession, 2010, etc.) follows Special Agent Tom White and his assistants as they track the killers of one extended Osage family through a closed local culture of greed, bigotry, and lies in pursuit of protection for the survivors and justice for the dead. But he doesn't stop there; relying almost entirely on primary and unpublished sources, the author goes on to expose a web of conspiracy and corruption that extended far wider than even the FBI ever suspected. This page-turner surges forward with the pacing of a true-crime thriller, elevated by Grann's crisp and evocative prose and enhanced by dozens of period photographs.

Dogged original research and superb narrative skills come together in this gripping account of pitiless evil.

Pub Date: April 18, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-385-53424-6

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: Feb. 1, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2017

NIGHT

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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