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Intensely moving tale of changing times in America,
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This review is from: They Marched Into Sunlight: War and Peace Vietnam and America October 1967 (Paperback)
I became aware of this book because of a BBC 4 documentary which used it as a narrative for the programme. Having read the book after viewing the documentary, its power and resonance was made all the more profound because it was possible to put faces to the names in the book who were interviewed in the TV programme. Marannis' prose is lucid and clear, and the way that events half a world apart from each other - on a Wisconsin campus in the USA, and a Viet Cong ambush on US troops in Vietnam are drawn together is masterly. There are moments of real emotive power - the tale of the sister of Danny Sikorski, a GI who was killed in the ambush, who dreamed of her brother with a massive hole in his chest the night of his death; Terry Allen, a battalion commander who was shot through the head in the Viet Nam incident and the guilt of his wife at having an affair whilst he was fighting over there, Clark Welch, a US soldier who suffered terrible wounds, and yet survived to meet Vietnamese soldiers who had ambushed his battalion, Jane Brotman, whose witnessing of her fellow students being brutalised by the local National Guard that caused her to become radicalised - these are all real, utterly vivid stories, even forty-odd years later. The book is also particularly effective in conveying the internal conflicts in American society in the mid-60s - students articulating a voice of protest, the tales of the soldiers who were doing the fighting, and the pain and suffering that is still there, so many years after. This is a wonderful book, it doesn't take sides, but is sympathetic to the students, the college authorities that were trying to accomodate the protest, and also to the soldiers in Viet Nam who were the victims of crucial errors of judgement and failures of the military Top Brass and ultimately the government. A brilliant book.