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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great detail on what took place but weak on root causes., 25 May 1998
By A Customer
This review is from: Four Hours in My Lai: A War Crime and Its Aftermath (Paperback)
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 "FIST" (London) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Four Hours in My Lai: A War Crime and Its Aftermath (Paperback)
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. My Lai was socially constructed terror against civilians drawing on the psychological insights of National Socialist terror organisers in Warsaw after the uprising. Kill as many as possible to show we mean business. It does not matter whether they support us, the Viet Cong or neutral.

Who remembers Armenia? Hitler exclaimed. The victors write history. The USA believed its mission statement, young men dying to bring civilisation to the heathen. Mission drift by default is documented in this book. It does not explains why, but details the events in precision dragging you in to the gut wenching churn of scything women and babies into smithereens.

One American stood up to the morass, the chopper pilot who refused complicity. He is the man to measure all human rights/values/ethics by the yard scale.

He represents the yardstick to measure all humanity, the one note of decency in a book of blood drenched misery.
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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
By 
RM (London Colney, HE UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Four Hours in My Lai: A War Crime and Its Aftermath (Paperback)
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
This review is from: Four Hours in My Lai: A War Crime and Its Aftermath (Paperback)
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
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This review is from: Four Hours in My Lai: A War Crime and Its Aftermath (Paperback)
Good read enjoyed it, but reflects the typical American cover up ! Similar to November 1963 a little matter in Texas
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5.0 out of 5 stars A compelling read, 8 May 2014
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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 women and killing tiny babies. You will feel the anger when you see the laughable penalties dealt out to the perpetrators. A very real page turner
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5.0 out of 5 stars We Must never forget, 22 Mar 2014
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This review is from: Four Hours in My Lai: A War Crime and Its Aftermath (Paperback)
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 America has become the most destructive aand evil race in the world and is now out of control. Everyone watch this video, but remember that it has been toned down from the reality that took place.
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5.0 out of 5 stars That's War!, 6 Dec 2011
By 
Jay (New Romney, Kent, ENGLAND!!) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Four Hours in My Lai: A War Crime and Its Aftermath (Paperback)
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. I recall my grandfather telling me how he watched a British officer shooting German prisoners in the back of the head during WW1 rather than take them behind the lines. In the Falkland incident there were reports of British soldiers killing enemy soldiers who were trying to surrender. The Germans killed over 6 million Jews and I have seen disturbing photographs of little Russian children hanged from telegraph poles by retreating German soldiers. The Malmedy massacre was a war crime in which 84 American prisoners of war were murdered by their German captors during World War II. The Japanese also have a pretty evil record for war crimes. Even further back in history British soldiers were guilty of raping and murdering Indian civilians when we poked our noses into India! Dont forget that in Vietnam the American soldiers were mostly conscripts - they weren't professionals, and they had gone through basic training which taught them to be brutal killers, thats no excuse for murder I know, but turning people into killers will open the door to incidents like My Lai. Drugs were widely available to troops and that war was in the middle of the 'hippie era' where so many young people took to drugs as part of the scene - that may have been another factor in the way soldiers behaved? In WW2 American soldiers about to embark on the Pacific campaign where 80,000 of them perished were told: "Take no prisoners" - probably very good advice considering the enemy they faced? The book mentioned incorrectly that 'America had never been bombed by an enemy' - they obviously forgot Pearl harbour, where several thousand navy personnel were killed.
But as far as the My Lai massacre is concerned then at the very least America did show up these particular 'bad apples' for being murderers, and a disgrace to their uniforms, and also to the 55,000 young Americans who died in that unpopular war. We should take heart when we read of the two exceptionally brave and compassionate helicopter crewmen who rescued civilians and threatened to open fire on their own soldiers if they continued with the killing - remember,there's good and bad in all nationalities!
Civilians were known to carry hand grenades or concealed weapons and I can imagine if you had witnessed a comrade being killed by one then you would no doubt be very ready to react if you were on patrol near a village. If your officer told you to do something do you refuse to take that order and risk being shot? Of course nobody can order you to commit murder, but would you take the chance and refuse the order with a dodgy officer like Calley around?
But My Lai of course, was inexcusable in the fact that the soldiers were as bad as their officer. As far as the travesty of justice in this incident goes, I think it was a weak President Nixon who bowed down to public pressure and allowed Calley to escape the punishment he deserved.
We must not lose sight of the fact that this book is not a history of the Vietnam War - only a four hour incident in it. There were atrocities committed by the Vietcong as well.
Odd that we and our allies can drop bombs on Berlin and Hiroshima killing hundreds of thousands of civilians (retaliation maybe - but does that make it right?) and yet we armchair historians with no experience of warfare make such a fuss of a comparitively small but equally horrible incident as My Lai?

Sometimes it would seem, murder becomes addictive within a group of people? Try reading 'Helter Skelter' - the story of Charles Manson and his 'family'. Young girls and young men who seemed to get caught up in an orgy of killing. A great read and available on Amazon.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Four Hours in My Lai essential reading, 16 Aug 2010
This review is from: Four Hours in My Lai: A War Crime and Its Aftermath (Paperback)
So superb is this book that I have long wanted to acquire a copy for myself. No New Zealand bookseller stocked it. The research the authors have put into their subject is of the highest order. The subject is too often glossed over when it serves as a clear pointer to a culture within the US military that can be mirrored in contemporary conflicts such as Iraq and Afghanistan, although perhaps not on the scale of the My Lai atrocity. This book examines this horrendous action against unarmed civilians from all angles, and most importantly the investigations, trials, and the aftermath.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A shocking crime and a shocking cover up, 24 Sep 2009
By 
Mrs. TK Ellis "Bookworm" (High Wycombe, Bucks) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Four Hours in My Lai: A War Crime and Its Aftermath (Paperback)
I have recently read "The Forgotten Hero of My Lai: The Hugh Thompson Story" and it started with this excellent book.

The book looks at the crimes that took place on 16 March 1968 in a collection of villages known as My Lai, or to the Americans as "Pinkville". It was here that members of Charlie Company went beserk and killed, raped, mutilated and maimed 503 Vietnamese civilians. As if this tradegy was not shocking enough, the whole degrading episode had been sanctioned by their senior officers, and just when you think that things can't get worse - they do and the US Armed Forces then takes place in a heinous cover up of the crime.

When the right-minded people in the forces speak out they face difficulties from the House Committee who did not want the story to come out. Of all the charges brought only one conviction was had, that of Lt Calley, and he was eventually released on parole through Nixon's presidential pardon. This story will make you sick to your stomach, not only through the sheer mindlessness and brutality of the crime but also the cover up and the "I was only following orders" that the guilty whined when confronted with the horror they had unleashed.

The bit that choked me most of all was the fact that in 1945/46 when the Americans were part of the driving force that set up the Nuremberg War Crimes Tribunal, the defence of "I was just following orders" was plainly, and correctly, dismissed as an abrogation of the responsibilities of a soldier, yet the US Armed Forces chain of command felt that it was entirely appropriate in this case. To be honest the hypocrisy of this made me want to choke.

I think this book should be as widely read as possible, because despite my venting my spleen at the actions of the commanders and soldiers the research and writing of this book is some of the best that I have ever read. I would highly recommend this book to everyone and I think that this story should be widely known, as a lesson learned and never to be repeated. The book also has a positive side as it covers the brave actions of Hugh Thompson, Larry Colburn and Glenn Andreotti who landed their small helicopter and faced down rampaging fellow soldiers to save 10 civilians from certain death. Please read this excellent book, you will not be disappointed.
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Four Hours in My Lai: A War Crime and Its Aftermath
Four Hours in My Lai: A War Crime and Its Aftermath by BILTON (Paperback - 21 April 2003)
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