Word of Honor [NOOK Book]

Overview

He is a good man, a brilliant corporate executive, an honest, handsome family man admired by men and desired by women. But sixteen years ago Ben Tyson was a lieutenant in Vietnam.

There, in 1968, the men under his command committed a murderous atrocity-and together swore never to tell the world what they had done. Not the press, army justice, and the events he tried to forget have caught up with Ben Tyson. His family, his career, and his ...
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Word of Honor

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Overview

He is a good man, a brilliant corporate executive, an honest, handsome family man admired by men and desired by women. But sixteen years ago Ben Tyson was a lieutenant in Vietnam.

There, in 1968, the men under his command committed a murderous atrocity-and together swore never to tell the world what they had done. Not the press, army justice, and the events he tried to forget have caught up with Ben Tyson. His family, his career, and his personal sense of honor hang in the balance. And only one woman can reveal the truth of his past-and set him free.

A good, honest and successful executive is haunted by a past mistake made during the Vietnam war.

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Editorial Reviews

Richard Nalley
'Word of Honor' entertains without reaching for moral revelation or subtle psychological effects. It is about a nail-biting career complication in the life of a man whom, otherwise, you would like in your golfing foursome.
— The New York Times
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780759522565
  • Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
  • Publication date: 4/1/2001
  • Sold by: Hachette Digital, Inc.
  • Format: eBook
  • Sales rank: 18,493
  • File size: 2 MB

Meet the Author


Nelson DeMille is the author of fifteen acclaimed novels, including the #1New York Times bestsellers Night Fall, Plum Island, and The Gate Houseand New York Times betsellers Wild Fire, The Gold Coast, and The General's Daughter. For more information on the author, you can go toNelsonDeMille.net.

Biography

Nelson DeMille has a dozen bestselling novels to his name and over 30 million books in print worldwide, but his beginnings were not so illustrious. Writing police detective novels in the mid-1970s, DeMille created the pseudonym Jack Cannon: "I used the pen name because I knew I wanted to write better novels under my own name someday," DeMille told fans in a 2000 chat.

Between 1966 and 1969, Nelson DeMille served in the U.S. Army in Vietnam. When he came home, he finished his undergraduate studies (in history and political science), then set out to become a novelist. "I wanted to write the great American war novel at the time," DeMille said in an interview with January magazine. "I never really wrote the book, but it got me into the writing process." A friend in the publishing industry suggested he write a series of police detective novels, which he did under a pen name for several years.

Finally DeMille decided to give up his day job as an insurance fraud investigator and commit himself to writing full time -- and under his own name. The result was By the Rivers of Babylon (1978), a thriller about terrorism in the Middle East. It was chosen as a Book of the Month Club main selection and helped launch his career. "It was like being knighted," said DeMille, who now serves as a Book of the Month Club judge. "It was a huge break."

DeMille followed it with a stream of bestsellers, including the post-Vietnam courtroom drama Word of Honor (1985) and the Cold War spy-thriller The Charm School (1988) Critics praised DeMille for his sophisticated plotting, meticulous research and compulsively readable style. For many readers, what made DeMille stand out was his sardonic sense of humor, which would eventually produce the wisecracking ex-NYPD officer John Corey, hero of Plum Island (1997) and The Lion's Game (2000).

In 1990 DeMille published The Gold Coast, a Tom Wolfe-style comic satire that was his attempt to write "a book that would be taken seriously." The attempt succeeded, in terms of the critics' response: "In his way, Mr. DeMille is as keen a social satirist as Edith Wharton," wrote The New York Times book reviewer. But he returned to more familiar thrills-and-chills territory in The General's Daughter, which hit no. 1 on The New York Times' Bestseller list and was made into a movie starring John Travolta. Its hero, army investigator Paul Brenner, returned in Up Country (2002), a book inspired in part by DeMille's journey to his old battlegrounds in Vietnam.

DeMille's position in the literary hierarchy may be ambiguous, but his talent is first-rate; there's no questioning his mastery of his chosen form. As a reviewer for the Denver Post put it, "In the rarefied world of the intelligent thriller, authors just don't get any better than Nelson DeMille."

Good To Know

DeMille composes his books in longhand, using soft-lead pencils on legal pads. He says he does this because he can't type, but adds, "I like the process of pencil and paper as opposed to a machine. I think the writing is better when it's done in handwriting."

In addition to his novels, DeMille has written a play for children based on the classic fairy tale "Rumpelstiltskin."

DeMille says on his web site that he reads mostly dead authors -- "so if I like their books, I don't feel tempted or obligated to write to them." He mentions writing to a living author, Tom Wolfe, when The Bonfire of the Vanities came out; but Wolfe never responded. "I wouldn't expect Hemingway or Steinbeck to write back -- they're dead. But Tom Wolfe owes me a letter," DeMille writes.

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    1. Also Known As:
      Jack Cannon; Kurt Ladner; Brad Matthews; Michael Weaver; Ellen Kay
    2. Hometown:
      Long Island, New York
    1. Date of Birth:
      August 22, 1943
    2. Place of Birth:
      New York, New York
    1. Education:
      B.A. in political science, Hofstra University, 1974
    2. Website:

Read an Excerpt



Chapter One

Ben Tyson folded his Wall Street Journal and stared out the window of the speeding commuter train. The dreary borough of Queens rolled by, looking deceptively habitable in the bright May morning sunshine.

Tyson glanced at the man in the facing seat, John McCormick, a neighbor and social acquaintance. McCormick was reading a hardcover book, and Tyson focused on the title: Hue: Death of a City.

McCormick flipped back a page and reread something, then glanced over the book and made unexpected eye contact with Tyson. He dropped his eyes quickly back to the book.

Tyson felt a sudden sense of foreboding. He focused again on the book jacket. The cover showed a red-tinged photograph of the ancient imperial city of Hue, a low-angle aerial perspective. The city spread out on both sides of the red- running Perfume River, the bridges broken and collapsed into the water. Great black and scarlet billows of smoke hung over the blazing city, and the sun, a crimson half ball, rose over the distant South China Sea, silhouetting the dominant features of the town: the Imperial Palace, the high walls and towers of the Citadel, and the soaring spires of the Catholic cathedral. A remarkable picture, Tyson thought. He nodded to himself. Hue. Tyson said, "Good book?"

McCormick looked up with feigned nonchalance. "Oh, not bad." "Did I get an honorable mention?"

McCormick hesitated a moment, then without a word, he handed Tyson the opened book.

Ben Tyson read:


On the sixteenth day of the battle of Hue, 15 February, an
American rifle platoon found itself pinneddown by enemy
fire in the western suburbs of the city. The platoon was an
element of Alpha Company, Fifth Battalion of the Seventh
Cavalry Regiment, of the First Air Cavalry Division. As a
point of historical interest, the Seventh Cavalry was the ill-
fated regiment commanded by General Custer at the Little
Big Horn.
The rifle platoon under fire was led by a twenty-five-year-
old Auburn ROTC graduate, Lieutenant Benjamin J.
Tyson, a New Yorker.


Tyson continued to stare at the open book without reading. He glanced at McCormick, who seemed, Tyson thought, embarrassed. Tyson continued reading.


The following account of what happened that day is drawn
from interviews with two members of Tyson's platoon
whom I will identify only as Pfc X and Specialist Four Y.
The story, heretofore untold, was originally brought to my
attention by a nun of mixed French and Vietnamese
ancestry named Sister Teresa. Further details regarding
the provenance of this story may be found at the
conclusion of this chapter.


Tyson closed his eyes. Through the blackness an image took shape: a Eurasian girl, dressed in white, with a silver cross hanging between her breasts. Her body was fuller than that of a Vietnamese, and there was a slight wave in her long black hair. She had high cheekbones and almond eyes, but her eyes were soft brown, and there was just the suggestion of freckles on her nose. As he held the image in his mind's eye, the mouth turned up in a smile that seemed to transform her whole face, making the features more strongly Gallic. The Cupid's-bow mouth pursed, and she spoke softly, "Tu es un homme intéressant."


"Et tu, Térèse, es une femme intéressante."

Tyson opened his eyes. He looked back at the page:


The enemy fire directed at Tyson's men was coming from
the vicinity of a small French hospital named Hôpital
Miséricorde. The hospital, operated by a Catholic relief
agency, was flying two flags: a Red Cross flag and a Viet
Cong flag.
The firefight had erupted shortly before noon as the
American platoon approached. The platoon quickly took
cover, and there were no initial casualties. After about five
minutes of intense firing, the enemy broke contact and
withdrew toward the city.
Someone in the hospital then draped a white bed sheet
from a second-story window, indicating surrender or "all
clear." Seeing the white sheet, Lieutenant Tyson began
moving his platoon up to take possession of the hospital
and surrounding structures. The enemy, however, had left
behind at least one sniper, positioned on the hospital's roof.
As the Americans approached, shots rang out, killing one
American, Pfc Larry Cane, and wounding two others, Sgt.
Robert Moody and Pfc Arthur Peterson. There was a
possible second sniper positioned at one of the windows.


Tyson paused again, and his mind returned to that day in 1968. It had been one of the worst days of the massive enemy offensive that had begun on the lunar New Year holiday called Tet, ushering in the Year of the Monkey.

He vividly recalled the sky, so blackened with smoke that he wouldn't have known it was an overcast day except for the cold rain falling through the ash.

He heard, in the steady rumbling of the train, the persistent pounding of impacting mortars and the ceaseless staccato chatter of automatic weapons. The train whistle blew at a crossing, and Tyson recalled very clearly the blood- freezing shriek of incoming rockets, exploding with an earthshaking thunder so intense that it took a few seconds to realize you were still alive.

And the dead, Tyson remembered, the dead lay everywhere. Trails and fields surprised you with sprawled, slaughtered corpses; hamlets were littered with the unburied dead. The Graves Registration people wore gas masks and rubber gloves, recovering only the American dead, burning the rest in pyres stoked with diesel oil and ignited with flamethrowers. Bonfires, bone fires, crackling fat, and grinning skulls. He could still smell the burnt human hair.

Tyson recalled what his company commander, Captain Browder, had said: "The living are in the minority here." And Browder himself joined the majority not long after.

Death, he remembered, was so pervasive in that bleak dying city, in that bleak and rainy winter, that the living—civilian and soldier alike—had almost ceased to struggle against it. People would, out of instinct, duck or take cover, but you could see in their eyes that they had no prospects for the future. Hue: Death of a City. Hue: City of Death. No wonder, he thought, we all went mad there.

Tyson drew himself back to the book. He skipped a page and read at random:


A French nurse, Marie Broi, attempted to stop the
Americans from killing the wounded enemy soldiers, but
she was struck with a rifle. An Australian physician named
Evan Dougal began swearing abusively at the Americans.
Clearly, everyone was overwrought; nearly hysterical
might be a better term. Suddenly, with no forewarning, an
American soldier fired a burst from his automatic rifle, and
Dr. Dougal was hurled by the force of the rounds
across the room. Spec/4 Y describes it as follows: "He
[Dougal] was thrashing around on the tile floor holding his
stomach. His white smock was getting redder and his face
was getting whiter."
The ward that had been in pandemonium a few seconds
before was now very still except for the dying sounds
made by Dr. Dougal. Pfc X remembers hearing
whimpering and crying from the adjoining pediatric and
maternity ward.
What happened next is somewhat unclear, but apparently,
having murdered the first Caucasian, several members of
Tyson's platoon decided it would be best to leave no
witnesses. The doctors, nurses, and nuns were ordered
into a small whitewashed operating room and—


"Jamaica Station!" cried the conductor. "Change here for trains to New York! Stay on for Brooklyn!"

Tyson closed the book and stood.

McCormick remained seated and said hesitantly, "Do you want to borrow—?" "No."

Tyson crossed the platform to make his connection, wondering why this had happened on such a sunny day.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 59 )
Rating Distribution

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 59 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 27, 2007

    You will not regret this purchase

    I always wanted to know more about the Vietnam War. Word of Honor was such a moving experience for me. I will never know how it was like because I was not there but I think I understand the veterans more because of reading this book. Also I know a few veterans of that war as well. I would recommend this book to anyone! It is wonderful and heartbreaking.

    4 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 1, 2013

    One of the Best Books I Have Read in a Long Time

    A story about unassumig gallantry and honor in a place and time where there was none. It may seem slow at times, but read it to the end. It won't disappoint.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 5, 2009

    Engrossing and devastating

    This is a very powerful book...I first read it over ten years ago, and it was just as fresh and captivating this time around. A strongly developed character, fighting past demons and current devils, against the agonizing and dehabilitating backdrop of Vietnam. A devastating surprise ending which will take your breath away. This is current American fiction at its best.

    3 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 12, 2014

    Tedious

    Interesting bit very tedious read. Wouldn't rrcommmend

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 23, 2013

    Chrissy

    Aytekin go to the next result please.

    1 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 7, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    This is yet another excellent and well written book by Nelson DeMille.

    Eighteen years after being shipped out of Viet Nam due to injury, a successful New York businessman is found to be the main character in a recently published bestseller. Lieutenant Ben Tyson is a young platoon officer in the midst of the 1968 Tet Offensive in Hue, V.N. He is also accused, in the book, of being a sadistic mass murderer of wounded North Viet Nam soldiers, innocent civilians and hospital staff. This young officer has carried this secret and burden which is now exposed to family, friends and community at large. DeMille carefully exposes where this leads Lieutenant Tyson; his relationship with wife, son and friends. How exposing this secret has opened wounds beyond the imagination. I would recommend this book to anyone wanting to either know more about societies opinions on Viet Nam during the late 60’s or wanting to know the pain a soldier experiences in war.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 3, 2011

    Gripping tale

    I was prepared to be underwhelmed, but as a true DeMille fan read it nonetheless. It became apparent almost immediately this one would be hard to walk away from until finished. The plot was very believeable and I'm sure things like that happened all the time. Lt. Tyson's character was brilliantly portrayed. At times, he was sympathetic, endearing, frustrating and heroic. The suspense built to a final ending that was touching. The emotion I felt reading the last few pages surprised me. Absolutely a must read if you have any interest in the Viet Nam era especially if you did not serve and would like an inside peak into the brutality of that war. Great book. Bravo from another LIer (age 59) now living in Burlington, VT.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 17, 2014

    I recommend this book highly

    This is an excellent story of the way the horrors and affects of the Vietnam war stayed with the men who fought; long after they thought it was over. Well developed characters and story line. Though the book was written 25 years ago it is still current in what the men and women in the military have to face. DeMille has been and is still one of my favorite authors.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 30, 2013

    This is a powerful, well developed story built around an intrigu

    This is a powerful, well developed story built around an intriguing main character. I know that I will reread it. 

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 29, 2013

    Another fantastic Demille work

    Once again I was captivated by Demille's ability to tell a great story. One of my fav writers and he did it again, a compkex story that I couldn't put down. Read this if you grew up watching Viet Nam on the evening news, a very deep look into the horrors of what went on and the aftermath. I can't wait for the next Demille book.

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  • Posted December 16, 2012

    One of the best books I've ever read. It tries to bring the read

    One of the best books I've ever read. It tries to bring the reader some understanding and comprehension to the horrors of
    and atrocities of war. At the same time the book, while full of brilliant dialogues, is fast paced and with sufficient humor  to keep turning page after page. Congratulations to Nelson DeMille.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 10, 2012

    Not DeMille's best work by far. Entertaining but not captivating

    Not DeMille's best work by far. Entertaining but not captivating.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 3, 2004

    Couldn't put it down

    Excellent control over the readers interest...I loved the way DeMille did not disclose the truth until the very end of the book...DeMille needs to rethink the sex scenes, 'slam bam, thank you mam' was not my choice of what to put in this book. A little romance would have been a better choice for my liking.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 12, 2001

    Great Book

    Demille is certainly a master of the literary world. His attention to detail is commendable, but in Word of Honor, his detail tends to slow the novel down to the point of near frustration at times. Great story that is no doubt told in an accurate and awe inspiring manner. Set in the post vietnam era when the realities of war are no more than a movie or novel to most of us, Word of Honor is so well written that it is a must read if you lived throught the Vietnam War and have an interest in it. Great book!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 16, 2000

    outstanding

    Another outstanding Book by Nelson DeMille. As always written with such impact and knowledge that can only come from someone who has been there.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 29, 2000

    Gets better and better

    As I started this book I did not like the central character, but that is a device, and by the time he was fighting for his freedom I was wholly on his side. This is I think a lot better book than the other two DeMille books I have read (By the Waters of Babylon, and Cathedral)and it really caught me up emotionally.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 10, 1999

    WOW!

    An adverture in each chapter and a new mystery on every page. The dialogue is the best DeMille has offered so far.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 6, 2012

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted August 29, 2009

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted November 16, 2013

    No text was provided for this review.

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