THE FOUR DAYS OF MAYAGUEZ by Roy Rowan

THE FOUR DAYS OF MAYAGUEZ

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KIRKUS REVIEW

In the first week following the fall of South Vietnam, two U.S. ships were fired on and one detained for 36 hours by the Cambodian Navy for intruding six and a half miles from Poulo Wai Island. The Ford administration and the National Security Council termed it ""piracy on the high seas"" and set in motion a Marine assault on a Cambodian island that was known not to harbor the crew, as well as two air strikes against the mainland after Cambodia announced that the crew was being released. Thirty-eight U.S. servicemen were killed, 50 wounded, and an unknown but much larger number of Cambodian deaths inflicted. Rowan, a Far East Bureau Chief for Time, doesn't dent that the affair was a planned provocation--he circumvents the whole question. He states that the Foreign Broadcast Information Service is a CIA outlet, but fails to add that contrary to standard practice it never notified the Defense Mapping Agency of the clash so that the latter could warn other ships; he also forbears from pointing out that the U.S. itself upholds the 12-mile-limit and often fires on incursors. What the book offers is a seabiscuit view of the crew and their four-day tribulations, plus flashbacks to Washington. The crew included the standard ex-Marine pugilist, a comic-relief coward, the loner, the school-of-hard-knocks orphan who made good, and a general belief that the Cambodians would eviscerate the white devils. What the affair meant in terms of human lives, not to mention a potential international confrontation, is left unexamined. Rowan steamed back to the U.S. with the Mayaguez and even interviewed the president, but this is not anyone's real inside story--it's ""white"" propaganda, the kind used to confuse when outright falsehoods won't be accepted.

Pub Date: Sept. 5th, 1975
ISBN: 0393332446
Publisher: Norton