The War Behind Me: Vietnam Veterans Confront the Truth about U.S. War Crimes

The War Behind Me: Vietnam Veterans Confront the Truth
    The War Behind Me: Vietnam Veterans Confront the Truth allIn The War Behind Me Deborah Nelson goes beyond the documents and talks with many of those who were involved, both accusers and accused, to uncover their stories and learn how they deal with one of the most awful secrets of the Vietnam War."/>
  • Hardcover
  • 296 pages
  • The War Behind Me: Vietnam Veterans Confront the Truth about U.S. War Crimes
  • Deborah Nelson
  • English
  • 06 March 2017
  • 0465005276

About the Author: Deborah Nelson

Librarian Note There isthan one author Behind Me: PDF ☆ in the Goodreads database with this nameDeborah Nelson is the co winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Investigative ReportingNelson earned a JD from DePaul University College of Law and a BS in Journalism from Northern Illinois UniversityShe worked for several newspapers, including the The War PDF or Daily Chronicle, the Daily Herald, the Washington Post, the Seattle Times, the Chicago Sun Times and the Los Angeles Times In she left the Angeles Times to take a faculty position as Associate Professor of Investigative Journalism at the Merrill College of Journalism, University of Maryland Since she also War Behind Me: ePUB ´ is a free lance investigative reporter for Reuters.


The War Behind Me: Vietnam Veterans Confront the Truth about U.S. War Crimes[PDF / Epub] ☃ The War Behind Me: Vietnam Veterans Confront the Truth about U.S. War Crimes By Deborah Nelson – Johndore.co.uk In , Deborah Nelson joined forces with military historian Nick Turse to investigate an extraordinary archive the largest compilation of records on Vietnam era war crimes ever to surface The declassifi In , Deborah Nelson joined forces Behind Me: PDF ☆ with military historian Nick Turse to investigate an extraordinary archive the largest compilation of records on Vietnam era war crimes ever to surface The declassified Army papers were erroneously released and have since been pulled from public circulation Few civilians have seen the documentsThe The War PDF or files contain reports of thanconfirmed atrocities, andother cases the Army either couldn t prove or didn t investigate The archive has letters of complaint to generals and congressmen, as well as reports of Army interviews with hundreds of men who served Far from being limited to a few bad actors or War Behind Me: ePUB ´ rogue units, atrocities occurred in every Army division that saw combat in Vietnam Torture of detainees was routine so was the random killing of farmers in fields and women and children in villages Punishment for these acts was either nonexistent or absurdly light In most cases, no one was prosecuted at allIn The War Behind Me Deborah Nelson goes beyond the documents and talks with many of those who were involved, both accusers and accused, to uncover their stories and learn how they deal with one of the most awful secrets of the Vietnam War.

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10 thoughts on “The War Behind Me: Vietnam Veterans Confront the Truth about U.S. War Crimes

  1. Phillip says:

    Serious crap, April 9, 2009 The subject is an important one as the U.S seems to be finding itself in a series of wars where the population is neutral and the fighting is frustrating and tedious to the point of rage But there are three things one should consider when reading TWBM, by Ms Nelson One, she is hardly a decent investigative reporter I ve read high school what I did last summer reports that areinteresting and informative Her questions to the participants wereBarba Serious crap, April 9, 2009 The subject is an important one as the U.S seems to be finding itself in a series of wars where the population is neutral and the fighting is frustrating and tedious to the point of rage But there are three things one should consider when reading TWBM, by Ms Nelson One, she is hardly a decent investigative reporter I ve read high school what I did last summer reports that areinteresting and informative Her questions to the participants wereBarbara Walters than anything else How do you feel about atrocities Did you see anyone else commit atrocities Two, she begins her book with the case of a 19year old self described hippie who was arrested for dodging the draft board, jailed for a time and then sent to Vietnam as a Conscientious Objector medic Is there ANY reason to believe this guy would be a credible source of information about the military folks he evidently didn t like or respect Three, Ms Nelson seems to think that repeating the sheer volume of incidents should make us believe that our troops were just a step above the Gestapo Here are a couple of charges Antiwar activist reported he had seen a photo of a mutilated body of a girl Wow, let s get some investigators on that one Or this one POW reported he was forced to shave off mustache I can just see Brando sitting in the dark rubbing his bare head The horror The horror Or amaddening one Deliberate bombing of a Cambodian hospital Pure drivel Never happened Listed in Ms Nelson s book are 56 incidents charges investigations having to do with killing civilians All serious All should be investigated Is that about one every two months In a country that suffered hundreds of thousands dead including maybe a million ARVN by the North Vietnamese who were just passing through a sovereign nation But every day occurance Give me a break Were there atrocities Every rape, every beating, every death, diminishes us all We, the veterans, were ashamed of them and incredibly angry at the perpetrators But in my three years in theater, I heard of maybe five or six I ve spent years and years writing about the war and studying it Battle field atrocities were not a significant issue in the war Yes, yes, I know One is too many What about the innocent civilians who died Horrible Look, if someone of you think you know a way you can send 18 and 19 yearold kids to a foreign land with guns and absolute power over the natives and not have any trouble in ten years, you better get yourself down to boot camp and start the training AND think about it before you launch the next few hundred thousand into combat The book stinks because it is so poorly constructed that there is nothing to refute She makes no real claims She raises no new issues I assume she just wanted to strike her little blow against the Vietnam Vets and those nasty American troops in general We need to drill and drill our troops about the angst and frustration of operating with civilians in the middle of combat Books like this won t help They just make people people like vets and people who have a lick of common sense angry and feed the garbled mind of someone on this page who thought every student should read this book Lord help us The thiness of the book and the lack of any interpretation or contextualization of the incidents, comments on combat in general, the Vietnam War in particular, leave this book in the propaganda pile A last thought Take out the phrase body count and this book is about fifty pages shorter That issue as a cause of atrocities, and in fact as a cause of anything, has been written about and discredited a long time ago Ms Nelson had ample reason to research the issue if it was to be such a prominent part of her book VVAW Kerry It is to laugh.I personally know one of that fraudulent group.He is still lying to everyone he meets.Do NOT take any bets that those boys can back up any of their charges Okay, can t resist oneI have never heard of a live Vietnamese being thrown from an aircraft of any kind And I know a hell of a lot of pilots Just onecatch phrase that the antiwar crowd fell for

  2. James says:

    Yet another book about low life Vietnam veterans Even the guys who blew the whistle and reported events come across poorly The author is careful to document every grammatical error in their speech so they sound like a bunch of ignorant hillbillys, And what of the crimes committed by the Viet cong NVA Not a word about the hundreds of thousands of Vietnamese civilians theykilled and or tortured because they were thought to be helping Americans Cutting the genitals off American boys and stuf Yet another book about low life Vietnam veterans Even the guys who blew the whistle and reported events come across poorly The author is careful to document every grammatical error in their speech so they sound like a bunch of ignorant hillbillys, And what of the crimes committed by the Viet cong NVA Not a word about the hundreds of thousands of Vietnamese civilians theykilled and or tortured because they were thought to be helping Americans Cutting the genitals off American boys and stuffing them in their mouths while still alive Or cutting their skin off an inch at a time The poor Viet cong are so innocent The tone of the author is somewhat irritating also, The author expresses such glee whenever she finds something negative about an 18 year old draftee who didn t want to go in the army,let alone a war zone And such disappointment when efforts to finddirt don t pay out,like her trip to Vietnam and going around the countryside asking villagers if they can add additional crimes against American soldiers It s too bad she never had a military obligation to her country She s gotten a free ride every time this country wanted soldiersto fight and die for the freedoms she takes for granted During the war she was able to live a fat and easy life,and then later profit by pointing fingers at others If she thinks American men are so bad,why doesn t she go live in Vietnam As other reviewers have pointed out, her writing skills are poor,and much of the book is about how clever SHE thinks she is in doing this and that

  3. Brianna says:

    The main focus of the book, or at least the beginning of the journey, is a veteran s allegation that he witnessed the massacre of 19 unarmed civilians by two soldiers and the paper trail showing that this was investigated twice with corroborating testimony uncovered, but no action taken This book isn t an attack on the average soldier In fact, it becomes distressingly clear that not only were there the direct victims of the war crimes murder, rape, assault but indirect victims conscient The main focus of the book, or at least the beginning of the journey, is a veteran s allegation that he witnessed the massacre of 19 unarmed civilians by two soldiers and the paper trail showing that this was investigated twice with corroborating testimony uncovered, but no action taken This book isn t an attack on the average soldier In fact, it becomes distressingly clear that not only were there the direct victims of the war crimes murder, rape, assault but indirect victims conscientious soldiers who witnessed these events were carrying it around with them the rest of their lives, often compounded by the fact that when they tried to bring those responsible to justice by reporting or later publicizing it, they were discredited or ignored by an administration desperate to get Vietnam out of the public spotlight.The book is as much about the author s journey to find sources for the story than it is about the story itself, which I guess is to be expected from an investigative journalist The good news is that the author lets the interviewees speak for themselves on the pages, and there is a lot to be learned from their words Even those officials who are obviously antagonistic towards the investigative probe offer insight into the administration s train of thought.We hear from individuals involved in, or witness to, the crime and the investigation in the order the author tracks them down Several independently recount the incident, although there is disagreement or confusion about whether a shoot everything that moves order came from higher up the chain We hear from some veterans about the emotional impact of being war particularly guerrilla warfare and the lack of purpose felt in Vietnam We hear from retired Army generals, former Staff or investigators about the focus that was placed on high body counts, what it takes to be trained to kill One official blames the lack of purpose individuals soldiers may have felt on the media, leading public opinion against U.S having any justification for being in Vietnam and making the soldiers aware of this public sentiment Overall, this isn t a particularly well written book but its reliance on lengthy direct quotes allows the reader to benefit from several different viewpoints thought not all viewpoints on an important topic.I made myself read this to keep from glorifying the past, but what I took away from it wasabout the present What it takes to go to war, what may drive some to violence towards unarmed civilians, what it takes to be a whistleblower against The System, the difficulty perhaps doomed nature of U.S led counterinsurgency actions, and the Us vs Them mentality not in combat, but which Army administration seems to feel towards civilians criticizing the military all these things unfortunately have many modern day applications view spoiler Quotes HENRY Most of the time we were getting our butts kicked, Henry says B Company suffered heavy casualties with few clear gains The orders to search hamlets gave way to orders to burn them to the ground Search and destroy became the mantra The malevolence caught like their cigarette lighters to grass hooches Several men stabbed a pig to death for sport When Henry objected, they told him to shut his mouth if he wanted to live long By October, some of the men turned their sights on civiliansLEE I had a lot of stress Everybody was under a lot of stress We were just trying to stay alive This was the same period of time when we lost a lot of the company So a lot of things were going on Lee searches for the right words to describe their state of mind We were out of control, he says We were all very trigger happy and everything else Shoot anything that moves or don t move or anything that s in our way You have to be in that kind of you ve got to be in that environment to really understand what goes through the soldiers minds at the time AMBEAU The firefighting you could handle It s all that other stuff that plays on your mind, he says We just basically search and destroy with no rhyme or reasonHow in the hell do you go in there, completely destroy everything they have, beat up their family members, rape their wives, and burn down their houses The search and destroy missions drove Vietnamese to the enemy and robbed U.S soldiers of any sense of purpose I got a feeling this situation in Iraq is going to end up the same wayI told my son and son in law, shipping out to Iraq just do the right thing and listen to your conscience WILKERSON No question, you had to be on your guard all the time especially when you just had a colleague wounded or killed, or you just had a group of colleagues wounded or killed, or your platoon or your company had or wherever, those are the critical times It was also very critical when you had a situation that I think happens almost every day in Iraq nowwhere you don t see the light at the end of the tunnel You don t, you know, you re just killing That s it There s no objective to it Year after year, week after week, month after month, whatever You don t see.I had some people who had been there for a long time and that adds to this sort of, you know, momentum towards being other than a lawful warrior That plus the fact, as I said, you don t see the light at the end of the tunnel There is no, there s no victory You can t see the victory clearly, you can t see an end coming, you can t see when you will go home other than your rotation date And you know your rotation date is subject to change CHUCALA on the investigation What the news media is even doing today in influencing the behavior of soldiers in the field if you browbeat the whole purpose of us being there, if you demean the whole purpose of why we re there, there will be a certain group of people in any society that will react against whom they re supposed to be freeing or taking care of So the terms gook and all these other terms that started I think were fed even by the news media creatinganger in these people for not wanting to be there What I m saying to you is, you re also dealing with another phenomenon A soldier is trained to kill, not to be killed I don t know any soldiers who like killing I don t know any I was first trained as an infantry unit commander, Fort Benning Nobody I know wants to kill anybody Now, how do you get this individual to have the gumption to kill someone You don t tell them hold hands and sing Kum Ba Yah You have to install in them something that says he s really bad, and if it s you or him, it s him That s where these terms gook, Jap, etc come from this person has to be geared towards killing the enemy If not, he shouldn t be there He s going to get himself killed and whoever s with him It s unfortunate JOHNS Johns understood the reluctance to prosecute soldiers, and didn t consider it as egregious as sending them into a senseless war and placing them in untenable combat situations You have to forgive me, but I have a reservation about blaming soldiers who are told to do something, and they let it get out of hand I believe the chain of command should be disciplined and curbed I don t think they army leaders did that As a staff officer on the Department of the Army Staff in the late 1960s, Johns wrote a study on the nation building aspect of counterinsurgency The study was distributed by the army secretary as policy guidance However, Johns says the army rejected one important conclusion of his analysis, which looked at counterinsurgency operations from WWII onward Foreign combat forces, such as the U.S military in Vietnam, could not successfully conduct such wars The most fundamental reason, he argued, was that the nature of such wars made atrocities inevitable, regardless of leadership and training of the troops Fighting insurgents would place U.S troops in populated areas, where the combatants were mixed in with civilians That would give the insurgents a tremendous advantage, unless the U.S forces were willing to accept a high level of civilian casualties But killing civilians would only increase support for the insurgency For those reasons, he strongly advised that U.S military involvement not go beyond an advisory role.JOHNS I don t think it is good for people to just, every time they see something they don t like, to go out to the public and undermine confidence in the military HENRY It doesn t seem to me that it would be that difficult to accomplish Just don t kill people that are NOT shooting at you How complicated can that concept be hide spoiler

  4. Bruce says:

    As a Vietnam Veteran I find this book confirms what I have long thought occurred and is likely occurring now Higher ups find a way to sweep dirt under the rug If they can t sweep it all they find the lowest possible person to scapegoat The authors visit some who reported the incidents to get their reaction to what occurred to their complaints and confront some of those involved in the investigations or public relations responses Atrocities take place in all wars is a truism The appendix h As a Vietnam Veteran I find this book confirms what I have long thought occurred and is likely occurring now Higher ups find a way to sweep dirt under the rug If they can t sweep it all they find the lowest possible person to scapegoat The authors visit some who reported the incidents to get their reaction to what occurred to their complaints and confront some of those involved in the investigations or public relations responses Atrocities take place in all wars is a truism The appendix has a long list that is probably only a small portion of the number of crimes committed Part of the problem was a lack of training but a larger part was the need for infantrymen Men were accepted who should not have been in the service at all It is worrisome for today because for an all volunteer military to reach its quota moral waivers are issued so people who have committed crimes, sometimes violent crimes can join US forces This creates dangerous situations not only for populations whose hearts and minds were are trying to sway but to service personnel who have to serve with these individuals This book should be read by all Americans

  5. Khánh Ngô says:

    Cu n s ch th c s kh khan S ch ch li t k nh ng n n nh n, nh ng v th bom, nh ng l n c ng k ch T i k v ng m t c u chuy n, m t c i nh n c a ng i M v chi n tranh Vi t Nam h n l nh ng trang li t k t i c n y.

  6. Sheehan says:

    A quick read that packs a wallopBest part of the book is the refusal to blame the actual soldiers exclusively, in fact, most of the book is an expose on the systemic malfunction of the generals promoting body counts as indicators of success and politicians trying to mitigate loss of face in administering the fight.Some of the information is commonly known, My Lai, the failed body count strategies, the free fire zones, etc Of course, the interesting part of the thesis is how the politicia A quick read that packs a wallopBest part of the book is the refusal to blame the actual soldiers exclusively, in fact, most of the book is an expose on the systemic malfunction of the generals promoting body counts as indicators of success and politicians trying to mitigate loss of face in administering the fight.Some of the information is commonly known, My Lai, the failed body count strategies, the free fire zones, etc Of course, the interesting part of the thesis is how the politicians pressed the armed forces into doing actual investigations of all alleged massacres and incidents, when caught with My Lai, most all of which were never prosecuted, but kept of record so Nixon could not be caught not knowing and could keep the stories out the papers The book explores the depth of deception that was perpetrated by the Criminal Investigation Division CID at the behest of the government to act like progress was being made on the allegations while really just sweeping it all under the rug Bless the Freedom of Information Act FOIA and the authors for uncovering these truths.What it seems to boil down to is a failed strategy, one of the battalion commanders suggests that as soon as body counts and free fire zones became working strategy, all Vietnamese civilians included became targets with incentives for their destruction Further, Seymour Hersh s, My Lai a month assertion was muchstructurally based than any sort of aberration, although the successful use of impotent investigations allowed the public to believe My Lai was the exception and not the rule.I thought this book was going to beoral histories of the participants and less journalism, but was pleasantly surprised as it progressed at how the personal comments were interspersed with the FOIA information and interviews.This is a really well done text on the topic, all high school students should read this book

  7. David says:

    Depressing but important investigative work on war crimes committed by US in the Viet Nam war, as well as the apparently cursory efforts to prosecute those crimes and extensive efforts to cover them up Lots of it involved review of documents obtained by FOIA, but she also did some interviewing of Army higher ups and went to Viet Nam and interviewed people there about what they had witnessed.Besides the obvious point that people will do incredible acts in extreme situations, the other point that Depressing but important investigative work on war crimes committed by US in the Viet Nam war, as well as the apparently cursory efforts to prosecute those crimes and extensive efforts to cover them up Lots of it involved review of documents obtained by FOIA, but she also did some interviewing of Army higher ups and went to Viet Nam and interviewed people there about what they had witnessed.Besides the obvious point that people will do incredible acts in extreme situations, the other point that came through clearly was the pernicious effect of official emphasis on the body count as a metric for how we were doing in the war Enemy is elusive Can just kill civilians, say their weapons got lost, and secure a high body count Clearly most of the time the stakes are not as high as this, but you get what you count and reward seems to be a broadly applicable point If you give baseball players high salaries for hitting home runs and ignore defense, you get a team full of steroid addled sluggers If you judge and compensate teachers per standardized test scores, you get teaching to the test, test prep rallies, etc And if you judge army units by body counts, you get troops decapitating civilians.My rating of the book is a compromise Subject matter and investigative digging 5 stars Writing 1 star Not a graceful stylist in general, but my main quibble in this respect was the excessive focus on her and her process so I asked him if..and he said that..and then we drove to..where I met with who said High point was when she obtained an important but lengthy document and described in some detail how her partner sent it to her, as well as the tidbit that I printed it out and read it before proceeding to say what it revealed Really You printed it Why didn t you just read it on the screen Do say .

  8. Joseph says:

    As far as itemizing the atrocities in superbly put together appendices that took place during the mostly latter half of the Vietnam War, Nelson does a great job I give the book three stars mainly because of the fact that she might have spenttime going into detail as to what the war crimes did to veterans and how they impacted morale and operations In her defense, Ms Nelson is an investigative journalist and her ability to track responsible parties down is admirable However, not too m As far as itemizing the atrocities in superbly put together appendices that took place during the mostly latter half of the Vietnam War, Nelson does a great job I give the book three stars mainly because of the fact that she might have spenttime going into detail as to what the war crimes did to veterans and how they impacted morale and operations In her defense, Ms Nelson is an investigative journalist and her ability to track responsible parties down is admirable However, not too many of those who were in command at the time of the war would be willing to fess up to atrocities save for a few men who did disclose as much as they knew.I believe this book should definitely be continued as another study of U.S war crimes in Vietnam There is definitely material in this book for scholars to take and run with Due to the length of the book itself, just under 200 pages , it seemedlike a sketchy precis for adetailed study to be made later

  9. Nick says:

    Nelson reports succinctly on military investigations into atrocities war crimes committed by U.S troops in Vietnam and then reports on a set of follow up interviews with the accused, the accusers, the investigators, and the higher ups The picture is not pretty, and somecontemporary proper nouns keep cropping up Abu Ghraib, Iraq What saves this book from being a total downer is the honorable folks who spoke out then, and again, there is a sense that we must honor them and their lineal d Nelson reports succinctly on military investigations into atrocities war crimes committed by U.S troops in Vietnam and then reports on a set of follow up interviews with the accused, the accusers, the investigators, and the higher ups The picture is not pretty, and somecontemporary proper nouns keep cropping up Abu Ghraib, Iraq What saves this book from being a total downer is the honorable folks who spoke out then, and again, there is a sense that we must honor them and their lineal descendants speaking out now

  10. Thảo says:

    Cu n s ch cung c p c h th ng m t s l ng t ng i t li u m t v t i c chi n tranh c a qu n i M trong chi n tranh Vi t Nam, nh ng t li u m c th c ng khi n ch nh ng i VN khi c ph i b ng ho ng ch kh ng ch ng i M Deborah Nelson l m t ph ng vi n, v v y t c ph m c vi t r t m ch l c v c h th ng v i nhi u nh n nh s c b n, c t nh g i m suy ng m T m l i, y l m t t li u h t s c ng qu cho b t k ai mu n t m hi u v chi n tranh Vi t Nam.