I stumbled across this book while doing some research on Vietnam and found it to be fascinating. Franklin argues that the POW/MIA myth is a concoction of politicans, right-wing political activists, and hucksters who have kept the POW issue alive as an open wound and thus reframed the Vietnam War with Americans as the true victims. This myth has been kept alive by Hollywood films such as Missing in Action and Rambo and has done a disservice to Americans' attempt to understand the Vietnam War.
Having grown up in the post-Vietnam era, I was also fascinated by tales of POWs and the possibility that some may still be alive. As I got older, however, I came to suspect that this was largely a myth designed to deceive the American public once again about Vietnam. This book has confirmed by suspicion.
Franklin examines the "numbers game" of POW/MIAs and explodes the possibility that any are still alive or that the Vietnamese government has not fully accounted for POWs or had any reason to keep some secretly, while releasing others. Franklin also debunks many of the alleged "live sightings" and the conspiracy theories associated with alleged POWs.
I think about this book, and the myths, lies and distortions that it debunks every time I see one of those POW/MIA logos plastered on a motorcycle helmet, or flying above a public building. It is bizarre to me that the government itself endorses and propagates this myth decades later. This book provides a compelling and rational look at the very beginnings of the POW/MIA myth; who created it, who promoted it, and what they had to gain from it. It is eye-opening and unforgettable.
This book does not address the deal Henry Kissinger made with the north vietnamese for billions in reperations for the rest of the POW's to be released. And many were not returned, such as Pvt. Garwood.
Typically the author has done everything possible to make the communist invaders the victims. As to whether there are still POWs alive in Vietnam will never be known. We do know of Americans who were in fact in custody by the North Vietnamese based on their propaganda photographs, but never returned (remains also). The communists even deny they ever had these people despite the photographic evidence. Did some or our leaders lie? Perhaps, but our liars are rank beginners compared to the communists of Vietnam. They lie when the truth would do them better. Don't waste your money on this trash.
I have not read this book - nor will I. You see - my only brother was missing in action from the vietnam war for 26 years. I know what evidence there is we left men behind. There are cases where there are no remains to return - or no body to return. That does happen in war time. But you see -my dad could not stand the fact our own government would not do their part to try to find these men still missing - including my brother. So my dad went to Vietnam and into Laos- He got within 20 miles of where my brother was shot down in Laos. My dad made his trip in 1975 a year after all men were returned - supposidly. My dad hired a body guard - he did not fall into prey to those men who wanted to charge him for information. Instead - my dad went right to the source. There were opium pushers making runs into the vietnamese prison camps. My dad got intel about this and used them to get info into the prison camps and try to locate my brother. My brother was never found - but during their travels to get into Laos close to where my brother was shot down - my dad, his body guard and 2 others with him had to hide out in a rice paddy wagon for 2 days. During their travels - my dad saw with his own eyes in 1975 - 2 prison camps with between 40 to 45 american prisoners in each one. When my dad got back home and heard from the last informant my brother was not in any of their camps - he took this info to Washington DC. He met with 2 high profile figures. He told them what he did and had the locations of the 2 camps pin pointed on a map. before he could finish his evidence presentation - they told him outright he was crazy. My dad packed up his evidence and walked out. He came home and called every television and radio station he could and told them he had proof and was going to hold a press conference. What happened next is something I will long remember. No media representative showed up - but 2 long black cars with a seal on the side did. Me and my little sister were taken to a neighbors house. These men from washington came in and threatened my parents with everything to keep them from releasing their evidence. No media would cover it. So yes - their were men left behind. Maybe not my brother - but there were men left over there and our government did know it and did cover it up.