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They Marched Into Sunlight: War and Peace Vietnam and America October 1967 [Hardcover]

by David Maraniss
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (81 customer reviews)


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Book Description

September 23, 2003 0743217802 978-0743217804

Here is the epic story of Vietnam and thesixties told through the events of a few tumultuous days in October 1967. David Maraniss takes the reader on an unforgettable journey to the battlefields of war and peace. With meticulous and captivating detail, They Marched Into Sunlight brings that catastrophic time back to life while examining questions about the meaning of dissent and the official manipulation of truth, issues that are as relevant today as they were decades ago.

In a seamless narrative, Maraniss weaves together three very different worlds of that time: the death and heroism of soldiers in Vietnam, the anger and anxiety of antiwar students back home, and the confusion and obfuscating behavior of officials in Washington. In the literature of the Vietnam era, there are powerful books about soldiering, excellent analyses of American foreign policy in Southeast Asia, and many dealing with the sixties' culture of protest, but this is the first book to connect the three worlds and present them in a dramatic unity. To understand what happens to the people of this story is to understand America's anguish.

In the Long Nguyen Secret Zone of Vietnam, a renowned battalion of the First Infantry Division is marching into a devastating ambush that will leave sixty-one soldiers dead and an equal number wounded. On the University of Wisconsin campus in Madison, students are staging an obstructive protest at the Commerce Building against recruiters for Dow Chemical Company, makers of napalm and Agent Orange, that ends in a bloody confrontation with club-wielding Madison police. And in Washington, President Lyndon Johnson is dealing with pressures closing in on him from all sides and lamenting to his war council, "How are we ever going to win?"

Based on thousands of primary documents and 180 on-the-record interviews, the story unfolds day by day, hour by hour, and at times minute by minute, with a rich cast of characters -- military officers, American and Viet Cong soldiers, chancellors, professors, students, police officers, businessmen, mime troupers, a president and his men, a future mayor and future vice president -- moving toward battles that forever shaped their lives and evoked cultural and political conflicts that reverberate still.



Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Pulitzer Prize winner and bestselling author Maraniss (When Pride Still Mattered: A Life of Vince Lombardi) intertwines two compelling narratives to capture the Vietnam War at home and on the battlefield as well as, if not better than, any book yet written. The first narrative follows the soldiers of the army battalion the Black Lions, 61 of whom died in an ambush by North Vietnamese on October 17, 1967. The battle scene description is devastating, brilliantly compiled with painstakingly recreated details of the four-and-a-half-hour battle, unflinchingly drawn pictures of the damage modern ordinance inflicts and an equally unflinching record of the physical and psychological residue of battle. The second narrative centers on the October 18, 1967, riot at the University of Wisconsin at Madison when student protesters tried to stop Dow Chemical, the maker of napalm, from recruiting on campus. Here Maraniss, a Madison native and a freshman at the university at the time, successfully depicts the complicated range of motives that led students to participate in the protest: many began the day as curious observers, and the riot radicalized them against the war. The author also re-creates the sense of loss, confusion and anger of the university administrators as they were overtaken by events that would change the fundamental relationships between students and faculty. The two narratives together provide a fierce, vivid diptych of America bisected by a tragic war: a moving remembrance for those who lived through it and an illuminating lesson for a new generation trying to understand what it was all about.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From School Library Journal

Adult/High School-For 40 years, the Vietnam War, and its effects on American society, has been a popular topic for authors. The best of these books tend to focus on a single aspect of the conflict, a certain group involved, or a specific period of time. In that tradition, Maraniss concentrates on two events that unfolded over two days in October 1967. On the first of those days, the members of the First Division's Black Lions battalion marched into a trap in the jungles of Vietnam and paid for it dearly. On the next, a large student protest at the University of Wisconsin against Dow Chemicals, the makers of napalm, turned into a battle of its own. By picking these moments in time, while looking at events in the U.S. and in Vietnam, the author shows how the war was affecting Americans, not merely with bullets and nightsticks, but with ideas and ideals as well. One might wish that Maraniss had shown a greater willingness to take on the larger questions posed by these two events, but by bringing these disparate occurrences together and placing them in context, he has provided one of the best books to date on the Vietnam War.
Ted Westervelt, Library of Congress, Washington, DC
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 592 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster (September 23, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0743217802
  • ISBN-13: 978-0743217804
  • Product Dimensions: 9.5 x 6.4 x 1.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (81 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #920,305 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

David Maraniss is an associate editor at The Washington Post. He is the winner of the 1993 Pulitzer Prize for National Reporting and has been a Pulitzer finalist two other times for his journalism and again for They Marched Into Sunlight, a book about Vietnam and the sixties. The author also of bestselling works on Bill Clinton, Vince Lombardi, and Roberto Clemente, Maraniss is a fellow of the Society of American Historians. He and his wife, Linda, live in Washington, DC, and Madison, Wisconsin.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
342 of 345 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Perspective of a Black Lion September 22, 2003
Format:Hardcover
I was the weapons platoon leader of Delta company during this operation. I was not interviewed by David Maraniss as I have been living in a black hole for the past 37 years and didn't want to be found or talk about it. I have since written and talked to Maraniss. The story of the Black Lions is factually correct and his descriptions of the soldiers involved is also correct. He brings a personal face to the participants unfettered by any political agenda and shows them as they were. Clark Welch was my company commander and his charisma and ability were so superior that Maraniss positive description hardly does justice to the man. I don't see how it could unless one was there. Maraniss portraits of the others are equally valid. Several things I was unaware of were revealed in the book. Col Triet the PAVN commander threw a regiment against us. At the time we thought it had only been a batallion. It amazes me that anyone managed to get out alive! General Hay the 1st Division commander managed to show up in the NDP when the battle was over. He was told that David Stroup the Delta company 3rd platoon leader deserved a silver star for gallantry. Hay found Stroup sitting under a tree crying as he had only 4 people left in his platoon. Hay said "This man doesn't deserve anything" and strode past. Nevertheless Hay awarded himself a silver star even though he wasn't there during the battle! If you really want to know the face of war then read this book.
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42 of 42 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Book of the Year October 25, 2003
Format:Hardcover
"They Marched into Sunlight" is without doubt the best book I've read this year, and should be a top contender for the '03 Pulitzer in History. Maraniss is an exceptionally skilled storyteller, a talent he displayed in abundance in his excellent Vince Lombardi biography, "When Pride Still Mattered." In "Sunlight," he chronicles two events that occurred half a world apart on October 17, 1967: the ambush of two under-manned companies of the U.S. First Infantry Division ("Big Red One") in Vietnam, and the violent clash between police and student demonstrators who were attempting to block Dow Chemical Co. (the maker of naplam) from recruiting on the Univ of Wisconsin campus. Maraniss adroitly weaves a coherent, engaging narrative from these disparate events (no easy task), producing a thoroughly entrancing work. There are many heart-rending stories depicted --- for example, Col. Terry Allen, son of the legendary Big Red One general in WWII, and Major David Holleder, a former West Point All-American, both of whom are slain in the battle. The painful dissolution of his marriage -- and the selfish perfidy and betrayal by his wife -- add special poignance to Allen's story.

We also learn of ironic coincidences ("connections," Maraniss calls them). For example, the improbable marriage between the son of an anti-Dow protestor and the daughter of a Vietnam ambush survivor. Or the significance of "knocks on wood." On the one hand, the popular Eddie Floyd song, hummed continually for good luck by a sergeant; on the other, the secret signal employed by the VC to trigger the deadly ambush.
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22 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent for anyone trying to understand the era of NAM December 18, 2003
Format:Hardcover
Having grown up in Wisconsin, with both a brother in Nam and a brother protesting in Madison, this is the best I have read that covers the 'whole' picture of the 'Viet Nam' conflict.
Excellent research and an honest rendition of the times and people involved.
Maraniss does an examplerary job of telling the 'story' from the view of all sides involved.
ABSOLUTELY a must read for anyone trying to understand not only the 'Anti-War' movement of the 60's... but also the politics of war and war protesting today.
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19 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Powerful story well told November 4, 2003
By A Customer
Format:Hardcover
On Sunday, November 2, I met David Maraniss at the Vietnam Wall in Washington. Members of the West Point class of 1956 were there to honor our classmate Don Holleder. We gave Maraniss a round of applause for capturing so well the battle where Holleder was killed and the life that Holleder lived as a great athlete, leader and friend. This book is a fair-minded treatment of a terrible and tragic event in US military history. But the book also captures with great skill other important events in the month of October, 1967.
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars It was hard to put down December 28, 2003
Format:Hardcover
This book is a must read for anyone who has an interest in Viet Nam and the turmoil and rending of our society that the war created. The story of the men from the 2/28 of the Big Red One, and battle that took place on October 17, 1967, is incredibly well researched and told. The book is worth reading for that alone.
But the book also gives the reader a fascinating look at the dynamics of the campus protest at the the University of Wisconsin, and the students that became part of, or were what came to be called the counter culture.
In October of 1967 I was just getting out of the Army after being drafted and spending a year in Viet Nam. I was in the 1st Battlion 18th Infrantry of the First Infranty Divison, which was a sister battlion of the 2/28. After getting out of the Army I enrolled at Kent State, so I experienced both sides of the battles in Viet Nam and the battles that were starting to take place on college campuses around America. From that perspective I highly recommend this book to everyone of my generation and also to our children's generation.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars They walked into Sunshine
A very interesting presentation. It is amazing how the anti-war movement got it all wrong about the American Soldier's thoughts.
Published 1 day ago by Thomas J Dossett
1.0 out of 5 stars Another americo-centric approach to Vietnam
Recently, I've been reading a lot on the Vietnam War, and when I read the praise of They Marched Into Sunlight I thought it was an interesting new perspective. It's not. Read more
Published 2 months ago by Nudelman
5.0 out of 5 stars separate views of vietnam war participation
maraniss did a fantastic job of gathering facts surrounding a specific vietnam war event from a wide variety of sources and presenting them in an interesting and readable manner.
Published 6 months ago by Dolores J Audy
5.0 out of 5 stars Great book, great service
Awesome book, great service from supplier! Eye opening facts about a war I fought in with huge implications to what is happening today so many years later.
Published 7 months ago by Tired of liberal lies
5.0 out of 5 stars Great read
This is a very detailed account of the 28th Infantry Regiment, Black Lions in Vietnam. Anyone who has seen combat can identify with the story as well as what Soldiers must endure.
Published 8 months ago by badkharma22
5.0 out of 5 stars Hey, it won the Pulitzer Prize....
So this book won the Pulitzer, huh? No wonder...it is, simply, outstanding. As someone who walked both through Vietnam and the streets of America protesting Vietnam, I consider... Read more
Published 9 months ago by james g. hamblin
5.0 out of 5 stars Well-written, cogent, and thoughtful
I read David Maraniss' book 'They Marched Into Sunlight' after watching the PBS documentary "Two Days in October" - the PBS documentary is based on Maraniss' work and features a... Read more
Published 11 months ago by Patrick D. Mahaney
1.0 out of 5 stars why did you sell this book to me???
This book was worse than one shot one kill. This was not a war book on vietnam but some rambeling essay on the writers thoughts and un rest on college campuses nothing to do on... Read more
Published 11 months ago by glen hodson
3.0 out of 5 stars Not that amazing - scale too small
I'm currently going through a Vietnam phase so I thought this would be a worthwhile addition to the to-be-read list. It was pretty mediocre though. Read more
Published 11 months ago by M. C. Deherrera
4.0 out of 5 stars i like it
i have not had time to read the book yet. it sounds like a good book to read and i will very soon. Read more
Published 12 months ago by JIM MORGAN
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