Caveat: This book does not put the significance of Tiger Force into the war's historical perspective - not that anything could excuse the atrocities committed.
This is a story about some unfortunate young men that got used up as wars tend to do to the actual fighters. They ended up committing unspeakable acts (most of the worst details are left out) in the Vietnam War and their lives were ruined. It is not a story about the middle aged and above men who directed and produced the script. Those men didn't get caught.
The young men recruited into Tiger Force were appealed to on the basis of their patriotism. They knew this unit would be deployed into one hot spot after another and likely suffer relatively high casualties. And they were pumped up with encouragement that they were the ones doing the hard work, the dirty work in the service of their country.
The narratives show that Tiger Force had more than its share of social outcasts. They also show that these young men, who had never experienced a normal upbringing, were extremely patriotic. The young men justified what they did at the time in terms of how it would benefit their country and some of them reenlisted.
Tiger Force was founded by David Hackworth, a major at the time. Hackworth, a highly decorated soldier (now deceased), understood that the U.S. had to make adjustments in the war effort because it was using WWII tactics against a guerrilla force in the jungle. Hackworth was successful convincing the Army brass to use smaller more mobile and camouflaged units in the jungle. Tiger force was the first of the new units that got established. Tiger force soldiers wore military clothes and gear and carried weapons that didn't even have to be U.S. government issued.
Tiger Force members were infantry elites. When they moved through the dense foliage, they were silent and didn't smoke. They did everything - ambush, recon and saving other units pinned down. They came in frequent contact with the enemy resulting lots of casualties on both sides and yet their members volunteered for additional tours more often than other units.
With this perspective it is much easier to understand the value of this book. The civilian leadership along with the very top military leadership decided to clear entire geographic areas within Viet Nam to deny the enemy support and sanctuary. This is exactly what presidential hopeful John Kerry complained most about when he became a famous anti-war protester. Tiger Force, simply because it operated as it did, was a logical unit for those most responsible for the atrocities to use in their plans. Tiger Force was commanded to clear areas of civilians. This was not what Hackworth envisioned when he founded the outfit.
The Vietnamese civilians that were ordered by the U.S. military to vacate their areas really had nowhere good to relocate. They resisted and kept returning to their homeland, and many became victims of the policies and soldiers carrying out those policies.
The thing I appreciated most about this book was that it finally gave the story of many former members of Tiger Force. Those that survived didn't fit into civilian life. They were into drugs and alcohol much of the time and often lived almost a nomadic lifestyle. These men suffered because of their prior experience in Viet Nam. That's a significant point and I give credit to authors Sallah and Weiss for their dedication and research.