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Four Hours in My Lai Hardcover – March 1, 1992


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 448 pages
  • Publisher: Viking Adult; 1ST edition (March 1, 1992)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0670842966
  • ISBN-13: 978-0670842964
  • Product Dimensions: 20 x 20 x 20 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (27 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #674,644 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

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.

From Library Journal

Written as a companion to the Yorkshire TV documentary (1989) by its producers, this unsettling account of the methodical massacre by a unit of the U.S. Army of over 500 Vietnamese villagers near Quang Ngai in 1968 gathers together evidence from GI eyewitnesses, survivors, and the extensive record of military investigators to tell us what happened, along with interviews and backgrounds of some of the participants to try to understand why. It then assembles a remarkably insightful assessment of the public's and the Nixon administration's response to both the war and this gruesome permutation of it. The book follows the legal repercussions that ended when only one of the many guilty parties, Lieutenant William Calley, was convicted. Any Vietnam War collection that does not carry this work is not complete; the massacre was both symptomatic of the military's prosecution of its mission and a watershed event in the evolution of the war itself. This investigation is a superlative dissection of those appalling crimes.
- Mel D. Lane, Sacramento, Cal.
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Customer Reviews

I am a Viet Nam veteran and found this to be a very hard book to read.
csturde
It is expertly written and can be classified as a text, as well as an emotional recounting.
kamb
I have read this book three times and come away each time quite disturbed.
Fulcrum29

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

24 of 24 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on December 1, 2000
Format: Paperback
After reading the Four Hours description of the massacre at village 4, one can only see the absolute insanity of the moment. I recently heard a program on PBS with Hugh Thompson, the helicopter pilot who observed this atrocity and attempted to stop it. This is a absolute must read for all baby boomers or anyone else who served our country in the viet nam conflict.
Where is the true meaning of international law....the only time ever served by any military personnel for this deed was a total of 3 days spent in confinement by william calley.
We need to all read this to be sure this NEVER happens again.
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34 of 38 people found the following review helpful By Ray J Sonnier on July 12, 2002
Format: Hardcover
I thought that Lt Calley was made a scapegoat for the
event that happened at My Lia, but after reading the book.
I find that he was a coldblooded killer,and cause many other young men to be the same way. I will never understand why Cpt Medina,and the other oficers involved in this incident was not brought to trail. The order given by these Oficers were just as much the cause of the problem, as were the men that did the actual killing.
I served two tours in Nam , and I thank God that I never
witnessed any such thing. I would probably have been brought to trail myself for killing those that would do such a coldhearted
thing.
However I must say that I am exremely proud of those that did not participate in the shooting.
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32 of 38 people found the following review helpful By Frongoch@aol.com on May 24, 1998
Format: 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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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By kamb on August 2, 2000
Format: Paperback
I originally bought this book to help me with a paper for a genocide class and found my self reading it for more than raw facts. It is expertly written and can be classified as a text, as well as an emotional recounting. The authors have strived to research facts and present them in a historic and unemotional manner, but the emotion of the story peeps through in the interviews with soilders and families of those massacred. After all of my research, I would consider this book the best in the field. My Lai must not be forgotten and this cronicles the events and reminds us of a lesson we need to learn. I beleive that Four Hours should be required reading for all students and is essential to understanding humanity both good and evil.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful A Kid's Review on February 21, 2001
Format: Paperback
I started reading this book preparing to be morally outraged, but came away with admiration for those who acted honorably throughout this ordeal, specifically Thompson (the helicopter pilot) and members of the investigative team. There were also some within the company that were able to distinguish between right and wrong in the heat of the moment, and refused to take part in the carnage. My Lai was the flashpoint of a very complicated war, and this book should be read by anyone wanting a deeper understanding of our involvement there.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By R. M. Peterson TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on September 21, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I sense the percentage is less than half. And of those who have heard about My Lai, many would prefer to forget it. It should be otherwise. The massacre at My Lai is a permanent stain on our national honor, and any conscientious American who truly cares about his/her place amongst the rest of humanity should be familiar with it. Moreover, the best possible means of reducing the chances of atrocities in the future is if American citizens are educated about the atrocities of the past (e.g., Wounded Knee, My Lai, Abu Ghraib). With regard to My Lai, FOUR HOURS IN MY LAI is an excellent source.

For those who don't know, here's a brief summary of My Lai: On March 16, 1968, Charlie Company, a U.S. Army unit of about 105 men "entered an undefended village on the coast of Central Vietnam and murdered around five hundred old men, women, and children in cold blood. The killings took place, part maniacally, part methodically, over a period of about four hours. They were accompanied by rape, sodomy, mutilations, and unimaginable random cruelties."

The sixty pages (pp. 102-62) that describe those four hours constitute perhaps the most gut-wrenching, horrific account of the American involvement in Vietnam that I have encountered. The one hundred pages that precede it set the stage. The remainder of the book deals with the aftermath, the attempted cover-up, how news of the slaughter eventually broke, the formal investigations, and the trials.

"What attempted cover-up?", some might indignantly snort. Nothing I can say in this brief review will convince the deniers and skeptics, and I can only urge them to read FOUR HOURS IN MY LAI.
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