- Paperback: 608 pages
- Publisher: Simon & Schuster; Reprint edition (Oct. 4 2004)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0743261046
- ISBN-13: 978-0743261043
- Product Dimensions: 15.5 x 3.8 x 23.5 cm
- Shipping Weight: 771 g
- Average Customer Review: 24 customer reviews
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #283,126 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
They Marched Into Sunlight: War and Peace Vietnam and America October 1967 Paperback – Oct 4 2004
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"Maraniss. . . is a writer with a masterly sense of narrative pace....The tale unfolds with a magisterial sweep that recaptures the war and its era." (The New York Times Book Review)
"My nominee for must-read nonfiction book of the year. . . . They Marched Into Sunlight is that miraculous thing, a substantive, exhaustively researched work of history that reads like a novel." (Maureen Corrigan Fresh Air (NPR))
"A masterful work that brings the conflict back with a rush of cinema verité emotion and tension. . . . Over the years, Vietnam has produced several classics, all of them different: Dispatches, by Michael Herr, and A Bright Shining Lie, by Neil Sheehan. Here is another." (The Economist)
"The towering work of nonfiction this year. . . . Maraniss' great achievement is to be epic and intimate at the same time." (Samuel G. Freedman Newsday)
About the Author
David Maraniss is an associate editor at The Washington Post and a distinguished visiting professor at Vanderbilt University. He has won two Pulitzer Prizes for journalism and was a finalist three other times. Among his bestselling books are biographies of Bill Clinton, Barack Obama, Roberto Clemente, and Vince Lombardi, and a trilogy about the 1960s – Rome 1960; Once in a Great City (winner of the RFK Book Prize); and They Marched into Sunlight (winner of the J. Anthony Lucas Prize and Pulitzer Finalist in History). A Good American Family is his twelfth book.
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We get to meet the soldiers and read excerpts from letters they sent home. There's Terry Allen Jr., the commander, whose father was a WW2 hero and who's struggling with marital problems. There's Lt. Clark Welch who feels self confident and invincible. There's Michael Arias, who carries the heavy radio through the jungle. There's Daniel Sikorski whose sister back home is having nightmares. And then there is Vo Minh Triet, the Viet Cong commander who engaged the Americans in conflict. They eet in battle and we share the terror as well as the excruciating details of carnage and death. Fifty eight Americans died that day and more than 60 were wounded. And yet the truth was only known to the men in combat as the media accounts were based on deceptive spins of military and Washington politics.
We also get to meet the students, faculty and police officers in Madison Wisconsin. We're there at a student protest against the Dow Chemical company recruiters on campus which led to nightsticks and head wounds and tear gas and a brick that severely injured a police officer. We hear accounts of the meetings of university officials and understand the hard choices that have to be made in a "no-win" situation. We meet young people who never had a political thought in their head who were radicalized that day. And we also learn about the realities of napalm as well as "agent orange". Then we jump into the present, visit with the survivors of that incredible time and take a visit to modern Vietnam with the author, visit the battlefield and meet some of the Viet Cong who lived through the battle. We again meet the student protestors, and talk with Paul Solgin, who tried to protect himself with his sheepskin coat from a beating with police nightsticks in 1967. Later, he became Mayor of Madison and is now considered too conservative. Some of the other protestors became radicals. Many them became teachers and professors. But everyone the author spoke to could look back at that month in 1967 as a turning point in their lives.
I loved this book and hold the deepest respect for the author and his depth of research. It shed a new light on an important era of America history and I thank him for writing it.
I give "They Marched Into Sunlight" my highest recommendation.
While the total book is engrossing and filled with facts reconstructing the mood of the county, I actually found the mood of American political and military leaders most interesting. Clearly, LBJ was caught in a quagmire and regretted the course in which he had led the country. Military leaders come off much worse with continued misinformation to attempt to mislead the American public as to the status of the war. Most telling is after this horrible ambush, not only do the leaders refuse to call it an ambush, they grossly misstate the Viet Cong killed to give the appearance that more were killed than Americans and therefore it must be an American victory. This is sad as many brave Americans were slaughtered and this misinformation does them no justice.
I strongly recommend this book for anyone with interest in the real Vietnam War both home and abroad. Also, I recommend this book for anyone wanting to know what it was like living in America in the 60s. One word of caution. This book is a commitment of over 400 pages in small print. While this is very well researched, if I have one complaint, the author seemed to want to tell the complete story of every character he introduced and therefore at times in can be long and slow and slightly off topic.
As a final note, for any soldiers reading this, I applaud you on performing your duty in very trying times. Your sacrifice was no less than anyone in other wars and went a long way in forcing America to evaluate such conflicts prior to sending American soldiers on foreign soil.
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