THE MILITARY HALF: An Account of the Destruction in Quang Ngai and Quang Tin by Jonathan Schell
Kirkus Star

THE MILITARY HALF: An Account of the Destruction in Quang Ngai and Quang Tin

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This painstaking probe of our military operations in two provinces of South Vietnam is, along with Schell's The Village of Ben Suc (1967), one of the more horrifying, searing reports from the war on this front. The author spent several weeks last summer observing, mainly from the air, the results of American bombing, shelling and ground action in both a military and population context. Flying in Forward Air Control planes, he saw that in Quang Ngai Province seventy percent of the villages were destroyed; watched an evacuation of a village; visited a camp for ""dispossessed"" South Vietnamese; interviewed an American AID advisor, a Vietnamese Province Chief, Psychological Warfare officials. He witnessed targets designated by pilots as enemy structures (huts, churches, occasionally flying white flags) flooded with bombs and napalm; he queried pilots as to their procedure for distinguishing civilians scurrying on the ground as friend or enemy (one pilot said it was a ""feel""; another that a running civilian meant a VC); he talked to recently evacuated peasants--hungry, dirty, unhoused, grieving, some very obviously hating the Americans who had invaded their country; he visited the pilots, tuning out on humanity, convinced of the sanctity of expediency. But the responsibility for the brutality--the destruction--rests not on the military alone but on all of us, for this unequal yet muddled, inconclusive operation in which we are destroying the people we presumably are protecting. A cool, merciless, persistent indictment. This material appeared in The New Yorker.

Pub Date: June 17th, 1968
Publisher: Knopf