Solving the MIA Mystery
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 A timely and well-presented work that seeks to dispel the myth that there are still American POWs held in Southeast Asia. Reader's Digest editor McConnell, who often writes on military and governmental affairs (Just Cause, 1991, etc.), provides another in a recent spate of books (see Prisoners of Hope, p. 1246) that convincingly debunk the assumption that Vietnam, for reasons known only to itself, continues to hold US servicemen prisoner more than 20 years after American withdrawal. This assumption has fed a cottage industry that preys on the families of those soldiers still unaccounted for. Today more than 2,000 are officially listed as missing in action. In reality, both sides know that these persons are dead. Using research gathered by Schweitzer, the first American to gain access to Vietnamese army records concerning POWs and MIAs as part of a quasi-official ``backdoor'' intelligence operation known as ``Swamp Ranger,'' McConnell documents a truth that is far more banal than the arcane conspiracy theories peddled by MIA organizations and some members of Congress. The US is unable to declare the remaining missing as lost because of overly stringent identification standards established as a result of intense lobbying by some of the families of those on the MIA list. The Vietnamese government has been unwilling to officially release information in its possession that could resolve matters because it fears a loss of face, since it declared early on that it had made available a full accounting. The situation in Hanoi has been complicated by bureaucratic wrangling between civilian officials and the military over who will control the information. The reality is that truth sells less well than hopeful, provocative fiction. Access to Vietnamese records makes this the definitive closure of a sad chapter in American history and must reading for all those interested in the topic.

Pub Date: Jan. 25th, 1995
ISBN: 0-671-87118-8
Page count: 464pp
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1st, 1994


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