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Unfit For Command: Swift Boat Veterans Speak Out Against John Kerry Hardcover – August 15, 2004

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Regnery Publishing; First Edition edition (August 15, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0895260174
  • ISBN-13: 978-0895260178
  • Product Dimensions: 9.4 x 6.4 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3,020 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #791,299 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Due to the timing of its publication, Unfit for Command could be dismissed as the sort of controversial, loaded book typical in a presidential election year: Either courageous and necessary, or untruthful and malicious, depending on one's political point of view. Filled with interviews of men who served in Vietnam at the same time as John Kerry, the book poses the following question: "Why do an overwhelming majority of those who commanded or served with John Kerry oppose him?" (Note that the issue of "service" has sparked investigation into its definition--in other words, just how close was the interaction between Kerry and those cited in the book during Kerry’s Vietnam tour of duty?)

The charges leveled against Kerry in this book are severe and include filing false operating reports; lobbying for and receiving three Purple Hearts for minor wounds, two of which were self-inflicted; receiving a Silver Star under false pretenses; offering false confessions of bogus war crimes in both print and testimony; and recklessness in the field, including the burning of a village without cause or direct order. The book also claims that Kerry left Vietnam after serving just four months instead of the usual one year tour and that he returned home and accused his fellow soldiers of atrocities without offering any evidence, endangering POWs in the process.

It is debatable whether the book will change any minds, or votes. Instead, readers will likely reach one of two conclusions: Either John Kerry grossly misrepresented his military service or the authors are spinning the interviews that they conducted for ulterior motives. There is a third option, however; readers will further investigate both sides of the debate, and by doing so, may reach conclusions independent of partisan extremes. --Brian Neff

From Publishers Weekly

"What sort of combination of hypocrite and paradox is John Kerry?" ask the authors in this heated critique of the Democratic presidential candidate’s Vietnam–era military service and antiwar activism. O’Neill, a lawyer and swift boat veteran, and Corsi, an expert on Vietnam antiwar movements, argue that Kerry misrepresented his wartime exploits and is therefore incompetent to serve as commander in chief. Buttressed by interviews with Navy veterans who patrolled Vietnam’s waters, some along with Kerry, the book claims he exaggerated minor injuries, self-inflicted others, wrote fictitious diary entries and filed "phony" reports of his heroism under fire—all in a calculated quest to secure career-enhancing combat medals. They also maintain that Kerry, whom they call a "moral coward," committed atrocities that alarmed his peers and superior officers during his four-month tour of duty. Yet his activities on behalf of the Vietnam Veterans Against the War clearly raises the authors’ hackles the most, and they present Kerry’s post-war actions as additional, damning evidence of his "total unfitness," claiming that his testimony against the war "caused more deaths and prolonged the war in Vietnam by undermining support at home and contributing directly to a Vietnamese Communist victory." The battle that lies at the heart of this book is the decades-old feud between antiwar veterans and their my-country-right-or-wrong counterparts. The authors’ conservative take on the war is palpable: the U.S. military failed to unleash "massive, indiscriminate bombing" to force North Vietnam’s capitulation; the conflict was a struggle against communism, not a civil war; and the dissenting soldiers undermined homefront morale. Consequently, this overwrought and repetitive polemic seethes with a resentment that compromises the otherwise eyebrow-raising testimonies. Further, without access to Kerry’s full military and medical records, the authors rely heavily on 35-year-old recollections and recent Kerry biographies by Douglas Brinkley and a Boston Globe reporting team. Those looking for a thorough, unbiased investigation into Kerry’s wartime record would do best to wait for more objective, methodical chroniclers who have access to the relevant documents.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

684 of 809 people found the following review helpful By Douglas Carpenter on August 31, 2004
Format: Hardcover
Since I wasn't there, let's take the word of a Republican and retired police officer who actually was. I print below the op-ed article from the Wall Street Journal's opinion page:

Shame on the Swift Boat Veterans for Bush

John Kerry saved my life. Now his heroism is being questioned.


Tuesday, August 10, 2004 12:01 a.m. EDT

I came to know Lt. John Kerry during the spring of 1969. He and his swift boat crew assisted in inserting our Special Forces team and our Chinese Nung soldiers into operational sites in the Cau Mau Peninsula of South Vietnam. I worked with him on many operations and saw firsthand his leadership, courage and decision-making ability under fire.

On March 13, 1969, John Kerry's courage and leadership saved my life.

While returning from a SEA LORDS operation along the Bay Hap River, a mine detonated under another swift boat. Machine-gun fire erupted from both banks of the river, and a second explosion followed moments later. The second blast blew me off John's swift boat, PCF-94, throwing me into the river. Fearing that the other boats would run me over, I swam to the bottom of the river and stayed there as long as I could hold my breath.

When I surfaced, all the swift boats had left, and I was alone taking fire from both banks. To avoid the incoming fire, I repeatedly swam under water as long as I could hold my breath, attempting to make it to the north bank of the river. I thought I would die right there. The odds were against me avoiding the incoming fire and, even if I made it out of the river, I thought I'd be captured and executed. Kerry must have seen me in the water and directed his driver, Del Sandusky, to turn the boat around.
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460 of 547 people found the following review helpful By Lori Shannon on August 30, 2004
Format: Hardcover
Karl Rove is a genius. He has all of you reading a book about Vietnam instead of reading the reports of what is happening in Iraq today, or what about the lost jobs to other countries, the increasing poverty level, the increasing number of unemployed and uninsured and the growing disgust the world has for America. Absolute power corrupts absolutely. Look behind the George W. Bush curtain and you will find the mighty wizard Karl Rove controlling your every thought.
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296 of 351 people found the following review helpful By Adam Cole on August 26, 2004
Format: Hardcover
The broad outlines are these: John Kerry had grave misgivings about the Vietnam War. Yet he volunteered to fight anyway, braving deadly combat. After serving two tours with distinction and experiencing the war firsthand, he returned to exercise his right as an American to speak out against it--which he did eloquently and powerfully. You may not agree with what he said, but you cannot deny that he earned the right to say it, or that he had the courage of his hard-won convictions.

George Bush, by contrast, supported the Vietnam war just as long as he didn't have to fight in it himself. He explicitly declined the opportunity to serve "in-country," instead preferring a stateside berth in the Texas Air National Guard's "Champagne Unit" where he flew an obsolete plane and caroused with other sons of privilege. Just about the time mandatory drug screening was implemented, Bush skipped his required flight physical and was grounded. To this day, despite a confounding avalanche of Friday-evening document dumps, he has been unable to demonstrate that he even reported for all of his required duty.

Now we have this book, written by the very man Nixon recruited to trash Kerry back in 1971 and funded as part of a larger effort by the same GOP surrogates who smeared POW John McCain and triple amputee Max Cleland. O'Neill is joined by other veterans with conspicuous ties to the Bush campaign (neocons, please apply the same standards you used to "link" Al Qaeda and Saddam). Many of these men once praised Kerry's service to the skies in their official capacities but have now flip-flopped 180 degrees, for reasons that are all too transparent. None of them served aboard Kerry's swift boat, yet they now claim to know what happened better than those who did.
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61 of 69 people found the following review helpful By R. Cheney on September 1, 2004
Format: Hardcover
I just completed reading this book and was impressed with the detail as it relates to the accusations and allegations. I am a 63 year old Navy Vet and served from 61 to 65. The book convinced me that John Kerry has the blood of Servicemen and women on his hands as a result of his Anti war efforts and his aiding and comforting of the enemy. His clandestine meetings with the Viet Cong and North Vietnamese in Paris confirm to me that he is indeed Unfit for Command!!!!
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55 of 62 people found the following review helpful By William G on September 1, 2004
Format: Hardcover
An earlier reviewer noted >"I got alink to this book off of swiftvet.com (Swiftveterans for truth) they urge everyone to go here and give this book 5 out of 5."

The implication of course is that "they" is the Swiftvets who are urging everyone, while in reality it was one post out of thousands on their large discussion list. This reviewer is a prime example of how people are unethically attacking this well-written, well-researched book by people who were there. I am an Vietnam era vet (Air Force - Utapao, Thailand 1969) who lost a brother (101st Airborne) right after the Tet Offensive when someone in front of him tripped a booby trap coming out of reconnoitering a temple. That guy lived and my brother died. That happens in war. My brother got a purple heart and an earlier Bronze star. He lost his life for his purple heart.

I have disliked John Kerry since the '70s for his outright treason in participating in the VVAW while still a reserve officer in the Navy and because of the lies he told about people like my brother. What goes around comes around John. You have sowed the wind and you are now reaping the whirlwind that you so richly deserve. This book is just the beginning, just the beginning.
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