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.