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The first item on the Better World Books 2016 Reading Challenge is […]
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Based on classified documents and first-person interviews, a startling secret history of the American war on Vietnam's civilians, a pioneering and sure to be controversial investigation of the way the war was really fought
Americans have long been taught that events such as the notorious My Lai massacre were "isolated incidents" carried out by "a few bad apples." However, as award-winning journalist and historian Nick Turse demonstrates in this groundbreaking investigation, violence against Vietnamese civilians was not at all exceptional but was pervasive and systematic, the predictable consequence of orders to "kill anything that moves."
Based on his decadelong plunge into secret Pentagon files and extensive interviews with American veterans and Vietnamese survivors, Turse for the first time reveals the policies and actions that resulted in two million killed and five million wounded. He lays out in shocking detail the workings of a military machine that made crimes in almost every American unit all but inevitable. Turse's account moves from archives filled with Washington's suppressed war-crimes investigations to the rural Vietnamese hamlets that bore the brunt of the war; from boot camps where nervous young American soldiers learned to hate Vietnamese to bloodthirsty operations like "Speedy Express" in which a general obsessed with body counts led soldiers to commit what one participant called "a My Lai a month." Indeed, American violence against civilians was no isolated incident of troops gone berserk but rather the product of carefully chosen policies, issued by American officers and drilled into the troops to become an accepted fact of war.
Thousands of Vietnam books later, "Kill Anything That Moves," devastating and definitive, finally brings us face-to-face with the truth of a war that haunts Americans to this day.
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