A Personal War in Vietnam / Edition 1

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Like no other war, the Vietnam War was marked by the involvement of the mass media. The war exploded daily on the evening news and weekly in the magazines; reports of drug-dulled GIs and a place called My Lai made rich copy that seared an impression in American minds about U.S. soldiers in Vietnam. Robert Flynn was himself in Vietnam as a war correspondent, but his contemporaneous account of the two months he spent with Golf Company, Fifth Marines, reports a facet of the war that went largely unreported by the mass media.

Golf Company was composed of CUPP teams--a Marine squad and attached Navy corpsmen in the Combined Unit Pacification Program. CUPP teams were stationed in remote Vietnamese villes, tiny hamlets whose civilians the CUPP teams trained and assisted in protecting their homes from the Viet Cong. The men of Golf Company were without the backup of other U.S. forces; they had no barbed wire or bunkers and day and night had to move every few hours to avoid being pinned down. As pacification teams, they worked with villagers on a one-to-one basis, helping improve gardens and livestock, providing medical care, and putting in such facilities as community houses and water wells. It was a personal war; CUPP soldiers got to know and had to know the individuals of the villes, because an outsider or unease in the ville could mean Viet Cong were in the area.

Upon his return from Vietnam in 1971, the author wrote this account of his experiences with Golf Company, in their firefights and in their quiet moments, and his impressions of the men and their work. In the context of the early 1970s, the resulting manuscript was not the kind of copy sought by any faction in the Vietnam crisis going on at home. It has been published without the polish of hindsight, and in its original, unrevised form, it provides a clear window to the villes and booby-trapped jungles and the conversations and impressions they evoked.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Flynn, novelist ( Wanderer Springs ) and ex-Marine, spent two months of 1971 in Vietnam as a correspondent. These five previously unpublished essays investigate so-called ``pacification'' teams--mixed units of American Marines and Vietnamese Popular Forces members who labored in the villages to win the ``hearts and minds'' of Vietnamese peasants to their political way of thinking. Clearly, Flynn believes that in day-to-day personal contact with Vietnamese of uncertain loyalties, such Marines faced the ambiguities and anguish of Vietnam with courage. And the author sympathizes with these Americans, noting that in their place he might have behaved as they purportedly did--for example, testing villagers' loyalties by asking a child to open a potentially booby-trapped trash can. With all the recent books on Vietnam, little in this cogent, complex account will come as a surprise. Much, however, is memorable--as when one young soldier holds conscientious objectors responsible for the massacre at My Lai. ``If everybody who has a conscience runs and hides,'' the soldier demands, ``who do you have making moral decisions?'' (Oct.)
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Product Details

Meet the Author

ROBERT FLYNN is the award-winning author of Wanderer Springs, North to Yesterday, and The Signs of Rescue, the Signs of Hope (see page xx). He is novelist in residence at Trinity University in San Antonio.
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