What War Can Do to the Unloved That Get Sent to Fight | Tiger Force: A True Story of Men and War | Michael Sallah, Mitch Weiss
Tiger Force: A True Story of Men and War
Back Bay Books
, 2007 - 416 pages
average customer review:
based on 73 reviews
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This is one of the most powerful military books I have ever read, and I have read dozens. I am a Vietnam vet so I can say that I am very critical of the works by authors. But I can say after really taking the time to read this book very carefully that it passed every test I could throw at it. It's not a popular book in that it lionizes soldiers in
. Just the opposite. A platoon known as
went way beyond warfare and killed a lot of civilians in 1967 throughout two provinces in the central highlands. The authors go into great detail to draw from records produced by the army's Criminal Investigation Command. They conclude that the actions of the soldiers were more from poor and unruly leadership than anything else. If anything, the authors provide a very sympathetic view of the soldiers. Sorry, this isn't going to please a lot of vets. It's not Faith of our Fathers. I wish it could be, but it can't -- not if it's going to be honest. But unless we admit the events of hi
, we are doomed to repeat them.
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War is Hell
Incredibly powerful book that stays with you long after you've finished the final chapter. What I liked about it is that the authors portrayed the soldiers as human, and not monsters. These were platoon members who were asked to do the impossible, and under the pressures of
, they began killing civilians. If anything, this book carries invaluable lessons. Learn from them.
What War Can Do to the Unloved That Get Sent to Fight
Caveat: This book does not put the significance of
's historical perspective - not that anything could excuse the atrocities committed.
This is a
about some unfortunate young
that got used up as wars tend to do to the actual fighters. They ended up committing unspeakable acts (most of the worst details are left out) in the Vietnam War and their lives were ruined. It is not a story about the middle aged and above men who directed and produced the script. Those men didn't get caught.
The young men recruited into Tiger Force were appealed to on the basis of their patriotism. They knew this unit would be deployed into one hot spot after another and likely suffer relatively high casualties. And they were pumped up with encouragement that they were the ones doing the hard work, the dirty work in the service of their country.
The narratives show that Tiger Force had more than its share of social outcasts. They also show that these young men, who had never experienced a normal upbringing, were extremely patriotic. The young men justified what they did at the time in terms of how it would benefit their country and some of them reenlisted.
Tiger Force was founded by David Hackworth, a major at the time. Hackworth, a highly decorated soldier (now deceased), understood that the U.S. had to make adjustments in the war effort because it was using WWII tactics against a guerrilla force in the jungle. Hackworth was successful convincing the Army brass to use smaller more mobile and camouflaged units in the jungle. Tiger force was the first of the new units that got established. Tiger force soldiers wore military clothes and gear and carried weapons that didn't even have to be U.S. government issued.
Tiger Force members were infantry elites. When they moved through the dense foliage, they were silent and didn't smoke. They did everything - ambush, recon and saving other units pinned down. They came in frequent contact with the enemy resulting lots of casualties on both sides and yet their members volunteered for additional tours more often than other units.
With this perspective it is much easier to understand the value of this book. The civilian leadership along with the very top military leadership decided to clear entire geographic areas within Viet Nam to deny the enemy support and sanctuary. This is exactly what presidential hopeful John Kerry complained most about when he became a famous anti-war protester. Tiger Force, simply because it operated as it did, was a logical unit for those most responsible for the atrocities to use in their plans. Tiger Force was commanded to clear areas of civilians. This was not what Hackworth envisioned when he founded the outfit.
The Vietnamese civilians that were ordered by the U.S. military to vacate their areas really had nowhere good to relocate. They resisted and kept returning to their homeland, and many became victims of the policies and soldiers carrying out those policies.
The thing I appreciated most about this book was that it finally gave the story of many former members of Tiger Force. Those that survived didn't fit into civilian life. They were into drugs and alcohol much of the time and often lived almost a nomadic lifestyle. These men suffered because of their prior experience in Viet Nam. That's a significant point and I give credit to authors Sallah and Weiss for their dedication and research.
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The last great secret of the Vietnam
is revealed in a gripping book that is the culmination of efforts for which the authors received a Pulitzer Prize for investigative
is the searing
of a group of elite army soldiers in Vietnam who spun dangerously out of control and went on a horrific seven-month rampage. It is also the story of how these crimes, buried by the army for decades, at last came to light through the heroic persistence of a few individuals who could not forget.
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