Four Hours in My Lai

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9780670842964: Four Hours in My Lai

Two documentary filmmakers present the results of their twenty-year search for the truth behind the massacre at My Lai and its cover-up by the U.S. government, based on interviews with American and Vietnamese survivors. 25,000 first printing. TV tie-in.

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From Kirkus Reviews:

Brilliantly realized study of the infamous Vietnam War atrocity in which US soldiers burned a Vietnamese village to the ground, shot the livestock, raped the women, and drove 400 men, women, and children into a ditch to slaughter them with machine- gun fire. Bilton and Sim (Women at War, 1982)--who co-produced an Emmy-winning TV-documentary on My Lai--begin by speaking with Varnardo Simpson, gunner with Charlie Company, 1969; for 20 years he has imprisoned himself in a tiny shack, tortured by memories. Through extraordinary research, the authors go on to discover the sad fates of several of Simpson's fellow vets; talk with Vietnamese survivors of the bloodbath; reveal facts cloaked by the Army's court-martial system; expose White House machinations to obscure ``a grave breach'' of the 1949 Geneva Convention; and document a coverup involving dozens of officers right up to the rank of major general. Only one soldier was court-martialed for the massacre: Lt. William Calley. And, as the authors explain, initial public outrage gave way, apparently as the result of manipulations by Richard Nixon, to the sentiment that Calley was a martyr: When the soldier was convicted of premeditated murder, Nixon ordered him released from Leavenworth. By the authors' account, there was only one hero at My Lai: young helicopter pilot Hugh Thompson. Seeing Charlie Company driving children to the killing ditch, Thompson landed in front of troops, trained his machine guns on them, and rescued the children. In a supreme irony, he was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross: his sound judgment ``had greatly enhanced Vietnamese-American relations in the operational area.'' Thompson threw the decoration away. Savagery, the authors declare, has been endemic to every American conflict: in 1902, US troops in the Philippines slaughtered ``goo-goos'' indiscriminately; in WW II, soldiers sent their girlfriends Japanese skulls. But why is it continually repeated? ``Massacre has a short shelf life,'' say Bilton and Sim. Essential for the war scholar's bookshelf; for the generalist, a profoundly moving human document. (Eight pages of b&w photographs--not seen.) -- Copyright 1992, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.

From Publishers Weekly:

This is a gut-wrenching inquiry into the tragedy at My Lai on March 16, 1968 when U.S. Army troops slaughtered some 500 Vietnamese villages--killings, described here in hideous detail, accompanied by widespread rapes, torture and mutilations. Based on interviews with members of Charlie Company, 11th Brigade, Americal Division and Vietnamese witnesses, as well as examination of the site and the voluminous documentation, the authors reveal how the soldiers of Charlie Company came to believe it was their task to wipe out an entire village. The book traces the course of the two main investigations, the first by Army counterintelligence into the physical crimes, the second by the Peers Commission into the attempted cover-up and charges of negligence and dereliction of duty. The authors also analyze the courts-martial including that of Lt. William Calley, the only member of Charlie Company to be convicted. This is a profound, deeply disturbing account of one of the most traumatic incidents in American history, one that ended the national myth of American moral superiority. Bilton coproduced the television documentary Four Hours to My Lai ; Sim is a British TV producer. Photos.
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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