Spite House: The Last Secret of the War in Vietnam

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9780393040418: Spite House: The Last Secret of the War in Vietnam

The author of Kiss the Boys Goodbye provides a thought-provoking account of Marine private Robert Garwood who, in 1965, was captured by the Vietcong and held prisoner for fourteen years, only to escape, return to the U.S., and be convicted of collaborating with the enemy. Tour.

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Review:

This book uses impressive spadework to tell the story of what its subtitle calls "the last secret of the war in Vietnam," namely, what really happened in the case of Marine Private Bobby Garwood, the last soldier to return from the war alive. He returned in 1979, after 14 years missing in action. Jensen-Stevenson, a former Sixty Minutes producer, managed to get on the record people who have spent years staying off it: several well-placed military intelligence figures and Garwood (court-martialed for consorting with the enemy upon his return) himself. The main contentions of the book are that Garwood didn't desert but was captured after a firefight, that despite the sorts of lapses that virtually all Vietnam POWs fell prey to from time to time, he remained a loyal American throughout an incredibly arduous captivity, and most explosively of all: that before his return, based on the idea that he was a defector, there was an organized effort by U.S. forces to assassinate him. Readers will conclude that the Garwood case needs re-opening.

From Library Journal:

While every American prisoner suffered under Viet Cong and North Vietnamese control, few can lay claim to the physical and mental duress endured by Robert Garwood. This young Marine driver was captured only ten days before the end of his tour of duty in 1965. He spent the next 14 years as a POW and, when finally repatriated in 1979, was immediately arrested by the U.S. military and charged with collaborating with the enemy. The charges against Garwood were never substantiated but were widely believed by U.S. intelligence officers in Vietnam. Jensen-Stevenson (Kiss the Boys Good-bye, NAL Dutton, 1991, pap.) describes Garwood's ordeal both from the standpoint of the hapless Marine, caught up in events far beyond his understanding, and from that of Col. Tom McKenney, a Marine officer obsessed with killing the man he was told was a traitor. A fascinating and disturbing story, it is a useful addition to Vietnam War collections. Recommended for academic and public libraries.?John R. Vallely, Siena Coll. Lib., Loudonville, N.Y.
Copyright 1997 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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