December 01, 2003 12:00 PM

by David Maraniss

The Pulitzer Prize winner’s new Vietnam narrative dramatizes in eye-opening fashion two events that occurred on Oct. 17,1967: A crack U.S. Army infantry battalion is ambushed and decimated by the Vietcong outside Saigon, while back in Madison, Wis., police bludgeon a dozen college students during a protest against Dow Chemical, the napalm manufacturer. Extensive interviews detail these disparate, but linked, battles and the decisions that left lasting effects on the American psyche. From the antiwar Wisconsin chancellor who felt he had to stop the sit-in, only to watch in horror as his students were bashed by cops, to the U.S. general in Vietnam who won a Silver Star despite having little to do with the battle, Maraniss pinpoints the individuals who helped precipitate America’s long march out of Vietnam. He has rendered a powerful, illuminating contribution to American war history.


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