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Four Hours in My Lai: A War Crime and Its Aftermath [Paperback]

4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
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Book Description

21 April 2003
Early in the morning of 16 March 1968, a company of around 120 US infantrymen, later to be described as a "normal cross-section of American youth", entered a village on the central coastal plain of South Vietnam and killed hundreds of unarmed and unresisting women, old men and children. Later the same day, another party of US soldiers massacred nearly 100 more defenceless citizens in another village less than two miles away. Together, these two related actions became known as the My Lai Massacre. This is an account of this war crime. Throughout the US and Vietnam, the authors have tracked down and interviewed survivors of the massacre, perpetrators and bystanders, to describe the culture of a war which turned the young men of Charlie Company, after only three months in Vietnam, into the brutal killers of My Lai.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 448 pages
  • Publisher: Longman; 1 edition (21 April 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140177094
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140177091
  • Product Dimensions: 2.2 x 12.8 x 19.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 94,467 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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America honours My Lai Heroes 30 years on. It's in the book
Last March 7, 1998, America's military finally came to terms with My Lai and recognised the bravery of Hugh Thompson and Larry Colburn, the members of a helicopter crew who rescued unarmed civilians who were at My Lai in the middle of the massacre. As they did so they trained their machine guns on American troops and threatened to open fire if any more innocent people were killed. The story was first told in my book Four Hours in My Lai. As a direct result, Prof. David Egan, an expert in architecture at a university in South Carolina began a letter writing campaign to try and win some official recognition for the bravery of Thompson and Colburn. It took nearly six years, met with all kinds of resistence from The Pentagon and the Clinton White House, until by sheer force of numbers the Government and Top Brass had to give way. However...America has still only grasped a fraction of the reality of My Lai and more importantly the Vietnam War as a whole. We tried in this book to show what war can do to young men. We believe it is as relevent today as it was when we wrote it. Ten years ago we hadn't heard of massacres in Bosnia, Ruwanda, Sudan and Kosovo.

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
The book offers exceptional detail on the events of and after the My Lai Massacre. A good example of the detailed research is the memo penned by the oft lauded Collin Powell in which Powell shows his true colors-politician/careerist. Powell was a staffer at the time and wrote a memo responding to a commander's request for information about a rumored massacre. In the memo Powell talked of both the unliklihood of the event and the Vietnamese locals' love for the Americans. Most of us GIs, even decades later, know the Americal Division was ill-disciplined and prone to criminal acts. And this is where the author falls short. The military and political leaders that created an entire division, say 12-15,000 men, from primarilly "shake and bake" officers and NCOs ought to be taken out and shot. The results of such desparate schemes to keep from calling up Guard and Reserve units are both forseeable and, in this book, documented in one incident. The Americal had many others. I pity the good soldiers and officers who were almost vainly placed in the Division to try and inject some professionalism. Politicians unwilling to act to win a war, top level generals afraid to resign to defy ludicrous policies, careerism at nearly all levels of command, and the seeming ease with which a murderous mob can be created are what the book fails to fully address. Although, perhaps this begs for a second volume.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Losing Hearts, Minds Limbs and moral purpose 28 July 2010
By Dr. Delvis Memphistopheles TOP 100 REVIEWER VINE VOICE
An accompaniment to Fire in the Lake, Winter Soldier; film testimonies,Operation Phoenix by Douglas Valentine and the Politics of Heroin by Alfred McCoy.

The situation in Vietnam had deteriorated as the strategists failed to impose Hearts and Minds, strategic hamlets, win legitimacy for the southern Vietnamese regime or quell the stubborn southern resistance of the Viet Cong.

One ace was left, the application of wholesale terror. Operation Phoenix was hatched and then born, built on the same legacy unfolding in Soldier Blue, the cowboy film illuminating how the west was really won, total wipeout.

We may need to destroy the south in order to save it became the Westmoreland strategy. A grave error of the nihilist, prolonging the war and leading to the humiliation of defeat. It was only 20 years earlier Ho Chi Minh had extended the hand of friendship to the USA. The racial profilers of the Pentagon could not tell one asian from another and marked him as a Chinese communist. The political elite had the nous of a Missouri haystacker.

This particular little act of terror emerged from the collective darkness due to the snaps, the official photographer clicked emerging into the national consciousness. The managemet of the war blipped as the taken for granted reality in Vietnam shifted when it returned back home. Blinded by hubris the photos were published. Then a nation sat back and gulped in horror as it saw a reflection that belonged to a monster. My Lai's were dotted all over the south Vietnam's backwaters, the flies bloating the bodies of the freshly mown dead were feeding on American allies. The people blasted were not Viet Cong but old men, women and children of those being protected. America had turned on itself.
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A history of pure lunacy 22 Feb 2004
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
What happened on March 16th, 1968 in the village of My Lai, South Vietnam? The soldiers of "Charlie Company" under the command of Captain Ernest Medina went completely mad, that's what. Four hours of bayoneting civilians, raping women, killing children and babies and generally turning the entire village into a living nightmare. Many were even relishing their horrific acts. Between 300 and 400 Vietnamese civilians were slain and not a single U.S. soldier received any kind of sentence for such an act, regardless of the fact that the massacre was well-documented and known to the military courts in the United States.
Only Lieutenant William Calley even went on trial, received a 10 year sentence (if I remember correctly) and served a couple of months and was released. All others were let off because of "lack of evidence". What a farce! Now after something like that, how can victims of U.S. war crimes expect any kind of justice?? Now we all know why America refused to sign up to an international tribunal for war crimes; they simply do not want to tarnish their "good guys" reputation.
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Shocking. 23 Jan 1998
By A Customer
It is a shocking book that left my stomach in a knot. There is no indication that the Troops in Charlie were battle scarred as the synopsis here at Amazon states. In fact, the troops had seen very little action (according to the authors) and had been there for only three months. It will sicken you to the core with its graphic details of rape, mutilation, pyschological abuse, wanton destruction, torture and cold blooded murder and mass execution of babies, toddlers, kids and their parents, the sick and elderly by American Troops in the undefended village of My Lai, Vietnam. It gets worse. The authors reveal how High ranking Officers covered up this massacre and politicians (some still in power today) and the American people overwhelmingly supported this disgusting event. PLEASE READ THIS BOOK. Lest we forget.
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4.0 out of 5 stars My lai 22 Jun 2014
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Good read enjoyed it, but reflects the typical American cover up ! Similar to November 1963 a little matter in Texas
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars A compelling read
A trip through the dark underbelly of American troops fighting a difficult war. An atrocity which the Americans have done their very best to brush under the carpet - troops raping... Read more
Published 2 months ago by kevambrose
5.0 out of 5 stars We Must never forget
History shows that when ever the governments are allowed to get away with atrocities like this, they are always emboldened and become more outrageous in their barbarity, Thus... Read more
Published 4 months ago by Walter Probyn
5.0 out of 5 stars That's War!
An upsetting book but thats war for you I'm afraid. All countries have been guilty of war crimes but most are covered up and forgotten and not widely publicised. Read more
Published on 6 Dec 2011 by Jay
5.0 out of 5 stars Four Hours in My Lai essential reading
So superb is this book that I have long wanted to acquire a copy for myself. No New Zealand bookseller stocked it. Read more
Published on 16 Aug 2010 by Don Stephens
5.0 out of 5 stars A shocking crime and a shocking cover up
I have recently read "The Forgotten Hero of My Lai: The Hugh Thompson Story" and it started with this excellent book. Read more
Published on 24 Sep 2009 by Mrs. TK Ellis
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent synopsis of the events concerning My Lai
This is an interesting book for any one wishing to get the gory details concerning this situation. The book is excellently written with many comparisons to this situation and the... Read more
Published on 23 Jun 1999
5.0 out of 5 stars Shock !!!
Everybody must read this book. William Calley, Medina and the entire Charlie Company must be executed before a firing squad for their crimes of killing women, children and babies. Read more
Published on 7 April 1998
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