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Casualties of War by [Daniel Lang]
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Casualties of War Kindle Edition

4.7 out of 5 stars 18 ratings

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Editorial Reviews

Review

“The best piece of writing to come out of the war.” —The Boston Globe

“A classic statement of the horrors of the Vietnam War.” —The New Yorker

Casualties of War could resurrect issues that transcend Vietnam. That one enlisted man rejected the madness . . . is the affirmation which peculiarly elevates this horror story.” —New York Post

About the Author

“The best piece of writing to come out of the war.” —The Boston Globe

“A classic statement of the horrors of the Vietnam War.” —The New Yorker

Casualties of War could resurrect issues that transcend Vietnam. That one enlisted man rejected the madness . . . is the affirmation which peculiarly elevates this horror story.” —New York Post

Product details

  • ASIN ‏ : ‎ B00OUAHF5O
  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Open Road Media (December 16, 2014)
  • Publication date ‏ : ‎ December 16, 2014
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • File size ‏ : ‎ 4682 KB
  • Text-to-Speech ‏ : ‎ Enabled
  • Screen Reader ‏ : ‎ Supported
  • Enhanced typesetting ‏ : ‎ Enabled
  • X-Ray ‏ : ‎ Not Enabled
  • Word Wise ‏ : ‎ Enabled
  • Print length ‏ : ‎ 71 pages
  • Lending ‏ : ‎ Enabled
  • Customer Reviews:
    4.7 out of 5 stars 18 ratings

Customer reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
4.7 out of 5
18 global ratings
5 star
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4 star
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3 star
7%
2 star 0% (0%) 0%
1 star 0% (0%) 0%
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Top reviews from the United States

Reviewed in the United States on February 19, 2015
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Reviewed in the United States on March 19, 2011
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4.0 out of 5 stars No One Was Saved
By Bill Slocum on March 19, 2011
Truth was called the first casualty of war way back in 1918, but there are of course other casualties as well also dealt with in this real-life account of one U.S. soldier's experience confronting rape and silence in Vietnam.

A short book, "Casualties Of War" was first published in 1969 as a New Yorker magazine article. Sadly, it was never updated by author Daniel Lang to account for the fate of the whistleblower, whom Lang renames "Sven Eriksson" and describes as a carpenter from Minnesota in civilian life. One reads this book, quickly, wishing to know of his final fate as well as that of the four men on his U.S. Army patrol he saw put in jail for their part in the kidnapping, rape, and murder of Phan Thi Mao in November, 1966. Eriksson was the only member of his patrol not to take part in the crimes, which took some guts in itself. After he did testify, he found himself repeatedly questioned about why he made trouble for his brothers-in-arms.

"One M.P., I remember, told me he could have understood it if I had gone to bat for a G.I. who was murdered, but how could I do it for a Vietnamese?" Lang records Eriksson recalling. "But he was very tolerant about it. He said it was only human to make mistakes."

That war creates monsters is a theme of this book, but "Casualties Of War" is as much a cautionary tale of peer pressure and groupthink. In fact, the war machine does eventually pause to take stock of the crime, and attempt to punish the wrongdoers. It's the way those wrongdoers are so gingerly handled that causes grief. One, Corporal Clark, is described as a kind of psychotic cheerleader for the murder, a clear Section 8 case. The group leader, Sergeant Meserve, is admired for his skill on the battlefield but episodes of casual cruelty speak to a darker side not kept in check by his superiors. The last two soldiers on the fatal patrol are not made of the same hard stuff, but don't want to upset Meserve or Clark so play along.

Ericksson doesn't spare himself in Lang's account. He wonders forlornly if he could have done more to save Mao. Lang notes how he struggled at times with court officers defending the other soldiers at their courts-martial, who questioned Ericksson's desire to serve and even his failure to abandon his comrades and take the by-now ill and traumatized girl home. Their questions, and Ericksson's halting answers, makes for a much more vivid and disturbing reading experience.

Lang writes with a curious detachment, perhaps residual from the court records he went through while researching his story. Of course, some of this is effective when relating the rape and killing, as it denotes veracity. But once away from the killing, wrestling with his thoughts in the company of a pair of friendly Mormons who help him find justice, Ericksson doesn't come alive in any big way. Lang notes that Ericksson was in general a quiet man, and perhaps this was a reason for the cold tone that predominates. (The Brian DePalma movie from 1989 pushes against this in a slightly suspect way by creating later confrontations between Ericksson, Meserve, and the others. The reality was less spectacular, and more interesting.)

My biggest problem with the book was that I wish it went on longer, testament to its minor but enduring greatness. Death happens in war, but when it happens like this it is hard to accept the idea of justice deferred, or delayed. "Casualties Of War" addresses both the challenge of seeing to such justice and the lingering question of whether or not it was really worth it.
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14 people found this helpful
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Reviewed in the United States on March 2, 2014
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One person found this helpful
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Reviewed in the United States on March 20, 2018
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Reviewed in the United States on September 6, 2015
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Reviewed in the United States on May 9, 2012
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Top reviews from other countries

Kindle Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars A harrowing tale
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on July 25, 2018
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David Bolton
5.0 out of 5 stars Good book.
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on November 7, 2014
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