PRISONERS OF HOPE by Susan Katz Keating


Exploring the POW/MIA Myth in America
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 A compelling book dealing with the question of MIAs in Vietnam. As a journalist Keating has worked for Soldier of Fortune magazine and the conservative Washington Times. Nonetheless, in the present volume, she uses her skills as an investigative reporter to attack the notion that American POWs and MIAs were left behind in Indochina. A vocal lobby clamors for a full accounting of all MIAs, numbered by the federal government at around 1,200. Reported sightings add fuel to the belief that American soldiers were held hostage by the Vietnamese and abandoned by a government eager to put the war behind it. After all, the logic goes, hadn't it happened to the French in the 1950s? The truth, however, according to Keating, is that the US experience is not that of the French: No American POWs remain. And aside from a few known defectors, all the MIAs are dead. Citing the 80,000 missing from WW II, Keating points out that MIAs are part of the nature of modern warfare, in which the recovery or identification of remains is often impossible. In the case of the Vietnam POWs, however, the military had reduced the number of true ``missing'' to under 100 before a political hue and cry forced them to inflate the MIA list with the names of many men known to be dead but whose bodies were not found. Sightings of live POWs are hoaxes, says Keating, designed to fuel a political machine or to extort money from relatives on the slim hope that the men are alive. She slams, in particular, mercenaries like Bull Simons and Bo Gritz, who plan raids into Indochina (most of which never occur) in search of the lost. The real conspiracy, writes Keating, is not committed by a government bent on hiding a scandal but by those who prey on the hopes and fears of the ones truly left behind--the families of the dead. Highly persuasive.

Pub Date: Nov. 11th, 1994
ISBN: 0-679-43016-4
Page count: 288pp
Publisher: Random House
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15th, 1994