It took years of tireless research on the part of an Army investigator to bring this appalling story to even the barest...




Journalists Sallah and Weiss expand their Pulitzer Prize–winning account of American atrocities in Vietnam to book length.

Tiger Force was a Special Forces–like unit made up of men who had already passed tough paratrooper training. Founded by David Hackworth—reputedly the model for Marlon Brando’s character in Apocalypse Now—the unit was intended to “outguerrilla the guerrillas,” scrapping the techniques of conventional warfare to take the fight to the enemy in the jungle. Along the way, it also scrapped the rules of war; as Sallah and Weiss show, every soldier received written instructions over what was and was not allowed but just as quickly threw them away. Unlike Special Forces, Tiger Force was made up of a mixed lot, elite only in the fighting sense. Many had done jail time, and many Tiger Force veterans died young, of cancer or cirrhosis or suicide; one of the most violently inclined, an Apache Indian always close at hand at the book’s darkest moments, died at 34. But commanders set the tone, and Tiger Force’s leaders were close to psychopathic in their hatred for Vietnamese people, no matter what side they were supposed to be on: The most damning passages point to a breakdown of discipline and dangerous, murderous incompetence at the top. In that climate, many of Tiger Force’s soldiers took to killing indiscriminately while trying desperately to “minimize the emotions associated with the events”—and thereby justifying their actions, even as some of the soldiers tried to steer their comrades back on course. Said one, “The valley was a shitty place for all of us. But we didn’t have to pick on civilians. We were the Tigers. We were above that.”

It took years of tireless research on the part of an Army investigator to bring this appalling story to even the barest glimmer of light. Sallah and Weiss do a solid job of unearthing the rest of it.

Pub Date: May 15, 2006

ISBN: 0-316-15997-2

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2006

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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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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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