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Tour of Duty: John Kerry and the Vietnam War Paperback – Bargain Price, September 21, 2004
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Historian Douglas Brinkley's insightful Tour of Duty covers John Kerry's heroic Vietnam service (where he won the Silver and Bronze Stars and three Purple Hearts) and the fervent antiwar campaign it eventually spawned. Born to Boston Brahmin heritage, the son of an American diplomat, John Forbes Kerry was a child of good fortune--an eventual Yalie whose personal hero (John Fitzgerald Kennedy) shared his initials. However, Kerry's privileged upbringing instilled in him not a sense of entitlement, but a burning sense of public service. Though equally obsessed and revulsed by the burgeoning Vietnam conflict, Kerry's sense of duty led him to enlist in the Navy (after graduating Yale), and then volunteer for training as captain of a Swift boat (small aluminum vessels that patrolled the coastal waters and narrow, dangerous tributaries of Vietnam's massive Mekong delta). Brinkley's meticulous research relies on Kerry's detailed wartime diaries, logs, and interviews, (published here for the first time) as well as a wealth of accounts of the Navy's first extensive "brown water" riverine campaign since the Civil War. Those harrowing months only deepened Kerry's antipathy to the war, and he returned to become one of the most articulate leaders of the Vietnam Veterans Against the War. Brinkley's account gives crucial human dimensions to a man whose seeming aloofness has long plagued him. With Americans again dying in a controversial war halfway around the world, one cannot help but wonder if Kerry will yet again be able to pose the haunting question first put to a Congressional panel thirty years ago: "How do you ask a man to be the last man to die for a mistake?" --Jerry McCulley --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Publishers Weekly
Popular historian Brinkley's account of John Kerry's Vietnam experience could easily serve as the first part of a multivolume biography, examining the senator and presidential candidate's early life in rigorous detail. Entering the U.S. Navy soon after graduating from Yale in 1966, Lieutenant (junior grade) Kerry commanded two Swift boat crews on river patrols in Vietnam, earning a Bronze Star, a Silver Star and three Purple Hearts. He kept "voluminous" notes during his service, maintained extensive correspondence with friends and family, and tape-recorded interviews with combat-seasoned comrades. With unrestricted access to this archival material and interviews with Kerry and surviving crewmates, Brinkley (coauthor with Stephen Ambrose of The Mississippi and the Making of a Nation) depicts war in riveting detail, down to what music the crew of PCF-94 listened to on patrol. Though clearly centering his attention on Kerry, Brinkley also stresses the navy's under-recognized role in Vietnam while emphasizing the "true battlefield heroism" of American forces. Kerry's combat experiences make for gripping reading, and later sections on his high-profile role in the antiwar movement are equally engrossing, including the Nixon White House's efforts (involving a young Armistead Maupin) to discredit veteran-turned-antiwar-activist Kerry as a "phony." Final chapters fully address Kerry's political failures in the early 1970s while quickly summarizing later successes and how these successes were shaped by his Vietnam experience and ongoing relationships with fellow veterans. Though never intended as a political biography, this book offers perhaps the most insightful examination available of the character of this or any other Democratic candidate. 16 pages of b&w photos not seen by PW.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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I had to partake a couple of plane trips within a months time for work, one in which I was going to be able to visit the Viet Nam wall and touch my cousin's name, so I decided to pick up Tour of Duty and even though I am not into "war" stories I was captivated.
Again, I have read tons of political books from all sides and am very aware of "propoganda" both positive and negative and this one does not read as such (propoganda) and is a great adventure story...recalling that it is true - takes my breath away.
I also find it interesting that I was finishing the book, during a week when J. Kerry was on the NBC Sunday morning show and pundits from the rep. party were decrying his military record for about a day and a half (the obviously had not read this book, or anything about this war) and by Monday evening those same pundits were saying in effect "okay, he is a hero but this doesn't really matter." I found it so interesting to have watched these political events, while having the background of facts that this book produces.
Whether you want to read about the Viet Nam war, John Kerry, a great adventure story or all of the above, I recommend heartily Tour of Duty. Let us just say that my opinion about the man, who is the subject of this book, was raised tremendously.
In this case, the decision about the book’s final purpose is as much up to the reader as the author and publisher. Tour of Duty is both history and campaign document. A prominent and popular historian, author Douglas Brinkley has written, co-authored, or edited fourteen volumes. His first objective in undertaking the Kerry book, he has stated, was “to show the forgotten war the U. S. Navy fought on the rivers and coast of Vietnam,” but with the realization that Kerry would run for the Democratic Party’s presidential candidacy. Brinkley’s fortuitous effort occurred well before Kerry emerged from Iowa and New Hampshire and early primaries as the leading Democratic candidate.
Tour of Duty does not pretend to be a biography. However, the value of examining Kerry’s thinking as a college student, patriotic and courageous naval officer, and junior U. S. Senator goes without question.
Brinkley’s own political convictions – he and Kerry occupy the same political boat – are evident throughout the book. Kerry gave Brinkley unrestricted access to the personal journals he kept while in Vietnam, and Brinkley interviewed more than one hundred “brown water” seamen and authoritative civilians in putting together the manuscript.
Politics ran in John Kerry’s blood from the days he was a college undergraduate. As a junior at Yale, he was elected president of the Political Union, and as class orator at graduation in 1966 he declared his position that although “we (may) question the very roots of what we are serving,” “we have not really lost the desire to serve.” He had already volunteered for the U. S. Navy with the understanding that enlistment would begin after graduation.
Tour of Duty, after all, focuses on Kerry’s service as riverboat commander in Vietnam, where the Navy awarded him a Silver and a Bronze Star for heroism. While details of the courageous but often futile incursions in hazardous territory are understandable, here Brinkley bogs down; commanding a small riverboat is risky but requires patient repetition. Although feeling strongly that the U. S. should somehow get out of Vietnam, Kerry explicitly opposed President Nixon’s Vietnamization policy as “a bogus process of continuing the war in surrogate form.” Critics will question Kerry’s assertion.
After Naval service, Kerry became spokesman for Vietnam Veterans against the War, from which he ultimately resigned. However, it is on his tour of naval duty and his prominence in the Senate that his presidential electability is based.
Robert Lincoln, a retired U. S. Foreign Service officer who lived in northern Virginia, in 1971 was assigned to Saigon at his own longstanding request to Vietnamize the Joint U. S. Public Affairs Office and found that his American staff positions included a brigadier general and more than one hundred military officers and men.
Most recent customer reviews
The lie of John Kerry serving 2 tours in Vietnam is the most blatant lie .Read more