VIETNAM STORIES by Jack Crouchet


A Judge's Memoir
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 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. 1st, 1997
ISBN: 0-87081-453-2
Page count: 262pp
Publisher: Univ. Press of Colorado
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15th, 1997


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