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Word of Honor Paperback – September 1, 1998

4.6 out of 5 stars 385 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

If fiction can assuage the lingering moral pain of the Vietnam War, it's through the kind of driving honesty coupled with knowledgeability that DeMille (By the Rivers of Babylon) employs here, in a story which, as riveting as The Caine Mutiny but with wider implications, probes the conflicting concepts of honor, duty and loyalty as they relate to an event of the My Lai varietyand assesses blame. Prompted by a just-published book that holds ex-lieutenant Ben Tyson accountable for a hushed-up massacre committed by his platoon in a Hue hospital 18 years before, the army recalls Tyson to stand trial for murder. Tyson, confronted by an army authority anxious to save its own face, an embarrassed federal government (which has its own "deal" to propose) and a threatened marriage, and entangled, furthermore, in his own past lives and present sense of guilt, must call on all his lawyer's cleverness and his own inner toughness to fight his case. The flashbacks to Hue, the pre-trial investigation (involving an attractive female major), the court-martial proceedings, the emotions of the principal characters and the soul-sickness wrought by war (which is the story's effective subtext)all are depicted with marvelous vividness. 50,000 first printing; $50,000 ad/promo. Foreign rights: Jack Ellison. November 11
Copyright 1985 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Library Journal

This huge and merciless account follows an ordinary corporate man, Ben Tyson, as his Army commission is reactivated so that he can be court-martialed on charges of murder. The events go back 15 years to a hospital in Vietnam where his platoon took heavy action and many civilians died. Did he wantonly kill enemy and civilian alike? The investigation, intended to restore military honor after My Lai, gives no quarter. All the hostile witnesses are called up while friendly witnesses are lost or silent. Tyson's own sense of honor lets him give only tiny scraps of information even to his attorney. The courtroom sequences are so powerful that most of the other action is like filler. The dialogue rings true and shows a gift for wit and timing. Apart from its unfortunate length and a slightly over-drawn hero, this succeeds as a mature and compassionate statement about Americans at war in Vietnam. Barbara Conaty, Medical Coll. of Wisconsin, Milwaukee
Copyright 1985 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 880 pages
  • Publisher: Grand Central Publishing (September 1, 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0446674826
  • ISBN-13: 978-0446674829
  • Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 2.4 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (385 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #75,381 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Nelson Richard DeMille was born in New York City on August 23, 1943 to Huron and Antonia (Panzera) DeMille. He moved as a child with his family to Long Island. In high school, he played football and ran track.

DeMille spent three years at Hofstra University, then joined the Army and attended Officer Candidate School. He was a First Lieutenant in the United States Army (1966-69) and saw action as an infantry platoon leader with the First Cavalry Division in Vietnam. He was decorated with the Air Medal, Bronze Star, and the Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry.

DeMille returned to the States and went back to Hofstra University where he received his degree in Political Science and History. He has three children, Lauren, Alexander, and James, and still lives on Long Island.
DeMille's earlier books were NYPD detective novels. His first major novel was By the Rivers of Babylon, published in 1978 and still in print, as are all his succeeding novels. He is a member of The Authors Guild, the Mystery Writers of America, and American Mensa. He was a past president of Mystery Writers of America and International Thriller Writers ThrillerMaster of the Year 2015. He holds three honorary doctorates: Doctor of Humane Letters from Hofstra University, Doctor of Literature from Long Island University, and Doctor of Humane Letters from Dowling College.

Nelson DeMille is the author of: By the Rivers of Babylon, Cathedral, The Talbot Odyssey, Word of Honor, The Charm School, The Gold Coast, The General's Daughter, Spencerville, Plum Island, The Lion's Game, Up Country, Night Fall, Wild Fire, The Gate House, The Lion, The Panther, The Quest, and Radiant Angel. He also co-authored Mayday with Thomas Block and has contributed short stories, book reviews, and articles to magazines and newspapers.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Mass Market Paperback
I have read all of Demille's books. I have enjoyed all of his books. I do not think that any can compete with Word of Honor. First of all, he truly allows the reader to understand the central character, Benjamin Tyson. I would catch myself on numerous occasions, understanding in certain situations exactly how he felt. His character development is flawless and the reader truly gets to know the characters.
The plot itself was incredibly interesting with the Vietnam war backdrop against a modern family in Long Island. In addition, a military courtroom drama is an uncommon trait in modern fiction. In reality, the last one I read was the Caine Mutiny.
I could not put this book down, and it's pretty long. I think I read it in just two sittings (not bad for 700+ pages). Demille truly engages the reader, unflods the plot in small steps, and keeps the reader on his toes. In addition, the detail of all aspects is incredible. I would recommend this book to everyone and have actually purchased it twice because when I lost it I could not live without it.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
Nelson DeMille can be quite dark. Spencerville, The General's Daughter, and even Plum Island come to mind. The more books he writes, the darker he becomes, it seems.
I have been a fan since Charm School. I worked my way through Gold Coast, Cathedral, Rivers of Babylon and even Mayday, one of his earlier, co-authored, often overlooked books. Mayday shows the signs of his greatness.
DeMille works best for me when he maximizes the humor (often irony) and tension while minimizing graphic viloence or the dark side of human nature. Often his villains are driven but not inherently evil. His heroes are always flawed and usually funny in the worst situations.
Word of Honor balances all of these features and the result is one of DeMille's best, if not THE best. Vietnam has been cathartic for many Americans. Unlike World War II, where good and evil seem clear (and the basis for more heroic fiction than any other event in the world), Vietnam is nuances and conflicted lives. DeMille uses these to fine tune his humor and his hero.
This one is well worth checking out.
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By A Customer on October 30, 2000
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Nelson DeMille knows of what he writes. As a Lt. in the service in Nam and a keen human observer--we are given over 700 pages that draw us into a world we Americans sometimes do not like to revisit.
The central character, Ben Tyson, is a modern day commuter with a cushy job in NY, a family out in the 'burbs and a sense of honor that is about to be tested to the inth degree. Somone has written a well selling book about the atrocities at Hue. The author's two witnesses have made Ben Tyson culpable for his unit's macabre killing behavior at a French hospital during the war. And now the government plans to make him their scape goat.
After 20 years of living with the past, the truth starts to come out. Slowly, in stages, as DeMille builds the tension with episodes between Tyson's wife, his lawyer, his reunion with his men, the author who revealed his secrets, and a cout-martial trial.
I always appreciate DeMille's well researched novels. Mixing actual events with fiction using humor and pathos is his baliwick. Characters you want to know and dialogue that snaps.
A moving read of war, adventure, and trust.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
If you are looking to be captivated and entertained, as well as educated and intrigued, read this book. Each and every chapter is well written and Nelson Demille does a great job all the way to the end. The story is about a really interesting man whose past includes an incredible experience in the Vietnam War. It gave me an appreciation for those who were in the war, including my dad. Also, it's neat how the book goes back and forth from the present to his past. This is the first Nelson Demille book I read, since then I've read Plum Island, Gold Coast, and Cathedral. Just purchased Generals Daughter and Charm School. His books are awesome!
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
Word of Honor is not only arguably DeMille's finest novel it may well be one of the best novels you'll ever read. It quite simply crawls into your gut, sticks to your ribs and stay with you whole as you digest the significance of its powerful message.

And it's one hell of a read!

Ben Tyson is called to disclose the actions of his platoon twenty years after the Battle of Hue in a court of military law. Intermingled with flashbacks and back stories regarding a combat incident his unit handled during an extreme instant, a stressful moment about an 'event' between 'brothers'.

The courtroom scenes in this book are quite simply brilliantly crafted.

Tyson is a tight, faceted personality possessing the wry sarcasm and humor and open intelligence that only DeMille can create. Lucky for us he doesn't shower this attention on just his main character since everyone has a compelling, vital story to tell.

How can those of us who weren't there understand such complex feeling? Yet, DeMille, makes us understand, he transports our souls with the written word unlike no other and quietly says....this was our reality.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
This book brings out everything that a Demille fan expects from him: great story line, page-turning intrigue, and most importantly, Demille's own inimitable sardonic dialogue that is unmatched by any author. If you liked John Cory in Plum Island and Lion's Game (which any Demille fan does), then you'll really appreciate Ben Tyson in this one. Even better, he gets a sidekick (his attorney) who's just as bad/good as he is.
The story is built well, providing ample, but not too lengthy background of the main story - a civilian murder in Vietnam. This is NOT, however a Vietnam War story as much as it is a trial of an upwardly mobile family man from New York. AS you move through the book, you will find the pages turning faster adn faster, especially the last 100 pages.
Plum Island was my favorite until this read. Truly excellent!
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