VIETNAM STORIES

A JUDGE'S MEMOIR

A straightforward look back at a former US Army judge's trials in the Vietnam War. Retired colonel Crouchet offers a two-faceted memoir. About half the book is devoted to a sort of traveler's catalogue of meals eaten, rooms slept in, sights seen, and personalities encountered throughout the former Republic of Vietnam from July 1968 to July 1969, the height of the American war. The other half, and by far the stronger, is devoted to details—including several long transcripts—of many courts-martial over which the author presided. Crouchet did see a side of the Vietnam War that is not often portrayed in memoirs. He stayed in his share of air-conditioned hotel rooms and officers' quarters. He ate his share of fancy French food in Saigon's chi-chi restaurants. He put away more than a few drinks with more than a few generals, young American women, and visiting celebrities. The war was raging all around him, but Crouchet's recounting of his leisure-time activities reads like a kindly grandfather's self-effacing retelling of a mildly adventurous stay in a far-off, exotic land. Another problem with the personal narration: Crouchet uses lots of detailed, reconstructed dialogue that often does not ring true. His trial recapitulations, on the other hand, are well and fully told. They include insightful analyses of the motives of the men who were charged with serious crimes. Also in the positive category are Crouchet's introspective explanations of his generally dovish views on the war and his placing in perspective the murders and rapes that make up a good part of the book with the positive behavior of the overwhelming majority of Americans who were sent to fight in Vietnam. A workmanlike effort that reveals a not-often-examined aspect of the Vietnam War.

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 1997

ISBN: 0-87081-453-2

Page Count: 262

Publisher: Univ. Press of Colorado

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 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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