An Enormous Crime: The Definitive Account of American POWs Abandoned in Southeast Asia

A Review by David Martin

If this 563-page heavily documented book by Bill Hendon and Elizabeth A. Stewart, published in 2007, doesn't make your blood boil, you are either as cold blooded as a snake or you are completely lacking in reading comprehension skills.  Yes, we all know that soldiers are just expendable pawns in the game of politics, but condemning hundreds of your countrymen to a life of imprisonment far from home and pretending they are dead takes mistreatment of these pawns and their families and loved ones to a whole new level. 

But could it really be true?  Why would the Vietnamese and the Laotians hang on to almost as many prisoners as they released?  What could they hope to gain?

Concerning the first question, that's precisely why the anger must rise up inside you as you turn the pages of the book.  There is simply far too much evidence of American POWs having been seen by scores of witnesses, many of whom corroborate one another:  by former South Vietnamese sent to "re-education camps," by defectors, by visiting businessmen, by many, many credible people who have no reason to lie.  Aerial surveillance has also picked up patterns stamped out on the ground and in foliage of secret distress symbols known only to American combat fliers.  Some of the prisoners have even been identified by names that correspond to those of missing U.S. servicemen.  U.S. POWs were also known by U.S. intelligence to have been used as human shields at certain bridges and power plants, while none of the prisoners actually released have recounted those particular experiences.  Reports of sightings actually rose through the 1980s as refugees escaped from Vietnam and were debriefed by American military investigators.  Hendon and Stewart have drawn upon declassified transcripts of such briefings that had not previously been made public.

Now that this book has been written, to deny that the American government, in a cold and calculating fashion, left hundreds of prisoners of war behind in Southeast Asia is equivalent to denying that the Soviet Union had slave labor camps for political prisoners after Alexander Solzhenitsyn's Gulag Archipelago had been published.  Hendon, unlike Solzhenitsyn, has not been a prisoner; he hasn't seen the prisons from the inside.  But he has seen the cover-up very nearly from the inside, as a Congressman (R-NC), then as a Pentagon consultant working on the POW issue, as a Congressman again, and finally as an intelligence investigator for the Senate Select Committee on POW/MIA Affairs.  His inquiries have taken him to South and Southeast Asia 33 times.  No one except the immediate perpetrators of the cover-up knows the subject better.

Hendon's co-author, Ms. Stewart, is an attorney and the daughter of an Air Force colonel missing in action in North Vietnam.  She, too, has traveled extensively in Southeast Asia and has researched the POW/MIA question for more than 20 years.  Reading on pp. 376-377 a letter she sent then President George H. W. Bush, with its graceful prose so similar in style to the writing in the book, one gets the impression that the main division of labor in producing the book was researching by Hendon and writing by Stewart.

Welcome to the Cover-up Congress

Hendon, along with fellow freshman Congressman, John LeBoutillier (R-NY), had the life-changing experience of being present when Air Force Brigadier General Eugene Tighe, the director of the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), testified to Congress on June 25, 1981, some eight years after all of the POWs had supposedly returned to the United States. The two new Congressmen were members of the House POW/MIA Task Force, before which the testimony was made, and LeBoutillier was also a member of the task force's parent committee, the Committee on Foreign Affairs.  Tighe, as DIA director, was, as they say, "the horse's mouth," when it comes to whether any POWs remained in Southeast Asia.

Tighe...stunned those in attendance by testifying in open, public session that he was "absolutely certain" that American POWs were still being held captive in Southeast Asia.  He also called for a renewed effort by the Congress and the administration to get the prisoners home ....

"[Hendon] and I were just totally blown away by Tighe's testimony in public session that the men were still alive," LeBoutillier later said, "We knew, of course, that they were [alive], but this was the director of defense intelligence testifying to the fact before the U.S. Congress in open session.  I'll never forget it ─ 'absolutely certain. ' "  LeBoutillier went on to say that he and Hendon were sure Tighe's statement "would be big news the next day, not just on the Hill, but all across town and, via the media, all across America."

To the congressmen's surprise, however, Tighe's statement did not appear the following day in the Post or any of America's other major newspapers.  Not, to their knowledge, the next day.  Nor the next, or the next, or the next.  Nor was there any buzz about what the general had said in the halls or on the floor of the House.  Perplexed, the two congressmen contacted senior members of the task force and the Foreign Affairs Committee to see what they had planned in response to Tighe's testimony.  The two congressmen's message to the senior members was a simple one: "Tighe told our committee last week he was certain U.S. POWs are alive.  Nothing happened.  No press, no follow-up strategy sessions by the task force or the full committee, nothing in Armed Services, nothing in Veterans Affairs, nothing on the Senate side and, as far as we can determine, nothing downtown.  What the hell is going on?"

To a man, the senior congressmen replied that other than holding additional hearings and issuing additional press releases, there was really nothing more in the short term that Congress could or would do. (p. 220)

It was all up to the executive branch, they said, and indicated that it was just too politically dangerous a topic for them to explore further.  Tighe, they observed, was set to retire in a matter of weeks and had nothing to lose.  As for themselves, no one wanted to stick his political neck out far enough to have it chopped off by the folks who were running the show. 

Four years later Tighe testified to the House Foreign Affairs Committee and repeated that "living prisoners remained in captivity in Indochina.  The intelligence that led him to that conclusion, Tighe told the committee, 'was among the most detailed of human reporting I have ever seen ....  It is high quality human intelligence.' " (p. 276)

But by then, Tighe was long retired from his key post and his words lacked the clout they would have had earlier if only they had been trumpeted to the American people.

No one of Tighe's timber would ever again be in such a powerful position with respect to the POW issue.  But one of his successors apparently slipped up some nine years after Tighe's retirement, when a man of similar caliber was appointed to head the DIA's key Special Office for POWs/MIAs.  That man was the highly decorated three-combat-tour veteran of Vietnam, Army Colonel Millard "Mike" Peck, who was given the position in July of 1999.  With him on the job, things came rapidly to a head and the Congress was forced to act.  Before we discuss that, though, let us address the second part of our question, that is, why the governments of Vietnam and Laos held back prisoners.

The answer is that in their secret peace negotiations with the Nixon administration they had been promised billions of dollars in economic reconstruction money. They regarded the money as their due, as reparations from the losing side, and still not nearly enough to replace all that had been destroyed in the war.  One of the strengths of this book is that, conservative and patriotic Americans though they might be, and disapproving of the barbarity of condemning POWs to what is turning out to be a lifetime of captivity though they might be, the authors do a very good job of helping us see this action through the captors' eyes, to understand their motivation. 

Fidel Castro had been very successful in extracting money from the U.S. government in exchange for Bay of Pigs prisoners.  The Cubans even encouraged the North Vietnamese to adopt the same strategy.  The unreturned prisoners were their hole card to get their badly needed, and promised, reconstruction money.  At the same time, they could not be open about what they were doing because it was contrary to the rules of war, not to mention that in the world's eyes it had to be seen for what it was, a thoroughly rotten thing to do.

The motivation of President Richard Nixon, Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, and their successors in the U.S. government is not hard to understand, either.  They wanted a signed peace agreement with the North Vietnamese so badly that they made promises that were politically impossible to honor.  Maybe a strong and confident president could have used the bully pulpit of his office to persuade the Congress and the American people to ante up the reparations and call them something else, but the Watergate scandal laid to rest that faint hope.  It became American "policy" that all the POWs had been returned, the hundreds left behind be damned.  To adhere to and to reinforce policy is to prosper politically; to buck policy and to undermine it is political suicide.  Thus, names like Richard Cheney, Paul Wolfowitz, and Colin Powell turn up early in the narrative in support of the cover-up during the first Bush administration.  They later rise to still higher power.  For men like Hendon and LeBoutillier and Tighe and Peck it's, "Don't let the slamming door hit you on the way out."  When it comes down to a contest between those who are feathering their career nests and those who are committing career suicide, the decision as to who is more likely to be telling the truth is an easy one to make.

Bad Boy Peck

In no instance was the congruence of truth-telling about abandoned POWs and career suicide more in evidence than in the case of Colonel Peck  Only a few months on the job as the DIA's top POW searcher, Peck got wind of rumors that he would be reassigned.  Facing the growing internal opposition head on, he prepared a flip chart for his superior, Army Lieutenant General Ed Soyster.  There Peck outlined the problems and deficiencies he had found in the Special Office. 

Soyster's reaction was to confirm the rumors by telling Peck that things were "just not working out" and offering him a post more suitable for Peck's talents, liaison officer with the French army in Germany.  Peck responded by going back to his office and compiling a detailed list of the shortcomings of the work of the Special Office, concluding with a request that he be relieved of his job and the paperwork for his retirement from active duty be set into motion.  "Any military officer expected to survive in this environment would have to be myopic, an accomplished sycophant or totally insouciant," he wrote.

Peck's request was honored.  The following is Hendon and Stewart's selection of the Special Office deficiencies Peck listed in his final memorandum, which he left tacked to the door of the office he vacated at the end of March 1991.  He had been on the job a scant eight months:

∙ The mindset to "debunk" is alive and well.  It is held at all levels, and continues to pervade the POW/MIA Office.

∙ Practically all analysis is directed to finding fault with the source.

∙ Rarely has there been any effective, active follow through on any of the sightings, nor is there a responsive "action arm" to routinely and aggressively pursue leads.

∙ That national leaders continue to address the prisoner of war and missing in action issue as the "highest national priority" is a travesty.  From my vantage point, I observed that the principal government players were interested primarily in conducting a "damage limitation exercise" and appeared to knowingly and deliberately generate an endless succession of manufactured crises and "busy work" ... with little substance and no real results.

∙ It appears the entire issue is being manipulated by unscrupulous people in the Government or associated with the Government.  Some are using the issue for personal or political advantage and others use it as a forum to perform and feel important, or worse ... The entire charade does not appear to be and honest effort, and may never have been.

∙ The policy people manipulating the affair have maintained their distance and have remained hidden in the shadows, while using the office as a "toxic waste dump" to bury the whole "mess" out of sight and mind in a facility with limited access to public scrutiny.

∙ Many of the puppet masters play a confusing, murky role.  For instance, the Director of the National League of Families occupies an interesting and questionable position in the whole process.  Although assiduously "churning" the account to give a tawdry illusion of progress, she is adamantly opposed to any initiative to actually get to the heart of the problem, and, more importantly, interferes in or actively sabotages POW/MIA investigations.... She was brought from the "outside" into the center of the imbroglio, and then, cloaked in a mantel [sic] of sanctimony, routinely impedes real progress and insidiously "muddies up" the issue.... As the principal actor in the grand show, she is in the perfect position to clamor for "progress," while really intentionally impeding the effort.

Swinging the Prison Door Shut

On the heels of the Peck memorandum, New Hampshire Republican Senator (and now predictably former senator) Bob Smith introduced legislation in March of 1991 to create a Senate Select Committee on POW/MIA Affairs.  Passage became inevitable when The Wall Street Journal published a poll on August 2 that found that 69 percent of those surveyed believed that Americans were still being held captive in Southeast Asia. 

A committee of six Democrats and six Republicans was created.  With Democrats in control of the Senate, Majority Leader George Mitchell chose John Kerry to be the committee’s chairman, and that was the beginning of the end for the abandoned POWs.   It didn’t hurt the cause of the continuing cover-up that Minority Leader Bob Dole put John McCain on the committee as well, but Kerry wielded the real power.  Dole picked Smith as leader of the minority, and therefore vice chairman of the committee.  It didn’t take Smith long to see that it was going to an uphill, if not hopeless, fight.

Before the committee had even started its work, Kerry embarked on a trip to Indochina to pursue what he called “hot leads.”  Upon his return, though, while conceding that there might be a few stray POWs still being held against their will by some renegade groups beyond governmental reach, he announced peremptorily, “I think that the likelihood that a government is formally holding somebody is obviously tiny.”

Kerry showed his pernicious hand most clearly in his selection of staff for the committee.  It’s fairly common knowledge that the real work of groups of this sort, whether we’re talking about a Warren Commission or a congressional select committee, is done by the staff.  Two names stand out in Kerry’s choices, staff director Frances Zwenig, and chief analyst Sedgwick “Wick” Tourison. 

Taking the latter first, hardly a better example of putting the fox in charge of the hen house has ever been seen.  He had been the chief analyst at the DIA Special Office, where he was known by the POW/MIA families as “one of the most notorious debunkers ever employed [there].”  Senator Smith, exercising his prerogative, originally vetoed the choice, but Kerry persisted.  A typically congressional compromise was arrived at in which Kerry could appoint Tourison on the condition that Smith’s favorite, Hendon, would also be added to the staff.

Zwenig, at that point, might have been less of a known commodity than Tourison, but Hendon’s education about her came quickly:

Following a brief overview of the intelligence and where it was located, Hendon asked Kerry if he could show him some examples of the intelligence reports that Hendon had acquired in declassified form over the years.  Kerry thanked Hendon for his offer but said his schedule was tight and that it might be better if Hendon and Zwenig adjourned to an adjoining conference room to go over the material; Zwenig, Kerry assured Hendon, would fill him in on all the details later.  Hendon thanked Kerry for his time and his concern for the missing and, as the chairman had suggested, adjourned to the conference room with Zwenig.

To Hendon’s surprise, he was into only his second or third declassified intelligence document when an obviously agitated Zwenig blurted out, “Listen, there is no need for us to go over these reports.  The committee is not going to have time to go through all of this type of information.  Our job is to put the war behind us and normalize relations.  So there is no need to go over all this.  But thank you for your interest and for taking the time to come by.

And she was absolutely right.  As an independent investigation of the question of missing POWs, the work of the Senate Select Committee was a sham, not altogether different from the farce that the Senate itself has become when it comes to war and peace and most of the issues in the country that really matter.  It really had no independence from the U.S. policy that had been set by Nixon and Kissinger with respect to the POWs and followed by the powers that be ever since.   Wick Tourison had been an energetic implementer of that policy at DIA, which made him the perfect choice for Select Committee analyst.  His presence on the staff might be seen as the surest indicator of the committee’s lack of independence from the real power within and behind the executive branch, but Kerry and Zwenig’s presence is an equally strong indicator.  For supporting evidence of that assertion, see the author’s November 2009 article, “Spooks on the Hill.”

With that team in place, the final cover-up was a foregone conclusion.  It didn’t hurt the cover-up cause, though, that as attack dog the committee also had Senator John S. McCain, the militarily privileged son of the admiral of the same name who had betrayed the sailors of the USS Liberty as well as the lower profile but equally politically ambitious and tainted Vietnam veteran, Bob Kerrey.

The rewards and punishments meted out by the establishment after the committee did its work are telling.  As we know, Kerry became the Democratic candidate for President in 2004 and McCain the Republican candidate in 2008, and although neither got the top job, each returned comfortably to powerful positions in the Senate.  Bob Kerrey retired from the Senate in 2001 and accepted the well-paying job of president of the New School for Social Research in New York City.  He also served on the 9-11 Commission.  Senator Smith was defeated in the 1992 Republican primary in New Hampshire and has moved to Florida to sell real estate.

Corroborating Accounts

Here are two readers’ responses to a great review of Hendon's book that appeared in the online conservative forum Free Republic:

1.      One of the finest men I have ever known is Harley Hall. He was the last Naval Aviator shot down in Viet Nam, on 1-27-1973, the day the Paris Peace Accords were signed. His back seater was released during Operation Homecomming [sic] but not Harley. He was left behind. Read the very sad truth:


2.      Not having read further, so not knowing what was written, I can relate my own experiences in the late eighties, on this matter.

Back then I worked at the Pentagon with a close friend, a senior Marine officer, who was trying to help the families of the POW’s. From him, I heard the stories, at the time, hugely politically incorrect, about 312 POW’s known to be left behind and alive and in a camp. He understood the lives of these had been negotiated away at the bargaining table by Kissinger, but was trying to break through the barriers to get some sunlight on the issue.

But it was not to be. Every step of the way, he was thwarted by an unseen hand at times and by one in a key position to smother any such rebellion, Richard Armitage. Sound familiar?? As I recall either he or another friend also thought the same was operating out of the embassy in Thailand earlier and was blocking investigations back then.

I guess sources available now could confirm or deny the accuracy of these stories.

My friend who is a faithful and practicing Christian and fine family man was finally just shoved aside, left the Pentagon, and that was that.

I just renewed my faded POW flag. The black bleaches out fairly quickly in the weather. God bless and help those poor souls.

It is of some interest that the person who put up the favorable review of the Hendon-Stewart book has been banned from posting further on Free Republic.  That is something that has happened to a lot of us, as recounted in the exchange following my article here.

The present writer has been in regular communication with a Marine veteran who, for a time, worked in Marine intelligence in the Pentagon.  Our exchanges have primarily involved matters that well predate the Vietnam War.  He was not a senior Marine officer, so he could not be the person alluded to above.  One day he volunteered to me that he had gotten into a good deal of hot water for trying to push forward a report based upon several separate accounts of some 150 Marines having been left behind in Southeast Asia.

The following contribution is from an reviewer of the Hendon-Stewart book:

As a Vietnam veteran who was involved in pilot rescue I can only confirm first hand that on occasion we were unable to rescue every person or pilot who was shot down. We were often in radio contact with them, until the point of capture. Not all of these men were reported released or were there names released at the end of the war. 

This book is accurate in its facts and time line. At the time all of us knew that men, both officers and enlisted, were being held in places other than the known much publicized POW camps. It is my opinion that they are now dead or killed. Not the whole world values human life like here in the U.S. The political cost of discovering them would be too high. 

Thank you to the authors for writing this book and how big brother continues its enormous crime on misinformation. I often think the political unrest, young peoples movement and protest against the establishment need to be revived from the 60's and 70's. This book shows what and how and how far the general public can be duped and lied to. 

Will we ever learn?

Hendon and Stewart strongly disagree with this person's opinion that the POWs are all now killed because others value human life less than we do.  In fact, they end their book with this "Message from the Authors":

We close by asking the reader not to accept the simplistic answers some U.S. officials will undoubtedly offer in an effort to avoid having to confront the intelligence presented in this book.  Many such answers will be offered; we ask especially that you accept neither of these:

The North Vietnamese and Pathet Lao have not, as some will immediately claim, taken out all the American prisoners described in the postwar intelligence and executed them, or dynamited their underground prisons with them inside, or starved them all to death or withheld medical care until all died. Anyone who knows the North Vietnamese and Pathet Lao knows they would never do these things.  It is not in them.  It is not their way.  They have not killed our men, and will not; to the contrary, all available evidence shows they have gone to great lengths and incurred huge costs and risks to keep them alive.

"If some Americans are still held prisoner as you claim," other officials will say, "then we demand that you tell us where they are being held at this very moment, and if you can't then there's nothing to any of this."  We respectfully reply: Only through negotiation, not military action, can these American prisoners ever be freed, so what does it matter, what difference does it make where they are currently being held:  The North Vietnamese and the Pathet Lao know, and that is all that can matter.  For now, location-wise, the only thing U.S. officials need to know is, where is the negotiating table?

So, in the opinion of Hendon and Stewart, many of the prisoners are still there.  We may surmise, then, that a strong, popular American president, who would level with the country and do what has to be done, could bring them home.  Considering what the consequences would be for the many powerful people who have consigned the POWs to their current fate, the likelihood that we will ever be permitted to have such a president, in this writer’s opinion, is very, very small.  Rather, it is a virtual certainty that the trend toward our being offered only Democratic and Republican candidates who move us to vote according to our dislikes rather than our likes will only grow.


Appendix 1: A Credible Report, and How It Was Handled

Hendon and Stewart give us so many detailed accounts of American prisoners being held in Vietnam and Laos years after all of them were supposed to have been returned that, after so many pages, the reader is almost overwhelmed.  The following story, from early 1989, is fairly representative.  It is particularly notable, though, in demonstrating how the mindset within the United States government to debunk such reports has extended far beyond the Pentagon’s Special Office:

March, Vientiane and Washington


Sixty days into George H. W. Bush’s presidency, the top diplomat at the U. S. embassy in Vientiane, Laos, Chargé d’affaires Harriett Isom, cabled the State Department in Washington with what she characterized as “startling information.”  Isom wrote that she had just learned of a “colony of American servicemen” currently living in a high mountain valley just east of Phou Bia (Poo Bee-uh,” i.e., Mt. Bia), Laos’s highest peak, located northeast of Vientiane at a point some sixty kilometers northeast of the Nam Ngum Reservoir.

Isom reported that the information about the Americans had originated with a “foreign businessman” working in Laos who had learned the information during a recent conversation with an official in the LPDR Ministry of Industry in Vientiane.  The businessman said that he had petitioned the Lao government to grant his company a minerals lease in the Mt. Bia area, and the Lao official had responded that this would not be possible because American servicemen were in the area.  The businessman, Isom said, had been “most struck by the matter-of-fact tone with which this startling information was passed along.”

Isom went on to say that the Lao official had reportedly explained that the Americans had been living in the area since the war and were “not POWs”; rather, he said, they “had settled in the area, the site of a former special forces camp on the slopes of the Phu Bia massif and were quietly living there as part of the village.”

Isom expressed surprise and skepticism that the businessman’s story could be true, in spite of the fact that several years earlier the embassy had received a report from a different, independent source who had told of the detention of American POWs at Mt. Bia.  That report, dispatched from the embassy to Washington on October 29, 1984, had quoted a Pathet Lao intelligence officer as saying he had recently seen approximately thirty American POWs at Mt. Bia, and that they were being detained in a cave under combined Vietnamese/Lao guard.  He said that during the day the American prisoners worked under guard outside the cave cooking, farming, and performing other tasks.  He reported it was during one of the periods when the American prisoners were outside the cave that he had observed them.

After expressing surprise and skepticism about the businessman’s report, Isom, despite the earlier report, and despite the ease with which an indigenous agent could have been dispatched to the area to see if the Americans were actually there (as two independent sources had now reported), sought permission from her superiors in Washington to turn over the businessman’s information to Lao government officials and ask them to send a team to Mt. Bia to check it out. (Emphasis added.)

When the Special Office received its copy of the explosive Isom telegram, Col. Joseph Schlatter, USA, now chief of the office, moved quickly.  Immediately composing a memorandum for his boss, the deputy director of DIA, Schlatter declared, “We have just received the attached message from American Embassy, Laos.”  Then, after briefly outlining the message’s salient points and two perfunctory steps he had taken to “investigate” the report, Schlatter—in spite of the fact that the earlier report of thirty American POWs being held at Mt. Bia during October 1984 was in the Special Office files and, in fact, still “under analysis”—informed the deputy director that “we have no previous reporting of Americans in this area under any circumstances.”  Then, addressing Isom’s mind-boggling request that she be given permission to turn over the information about the Americans to Lao government officials and ask them to send a team to Mt. Bia to check it out, Schlatter asked that he be allowed to “contact State and concur with her suggestion.”

Two days later, on March 23, Secretary of State James Baker informed Isom by cable that her request to approach the Lao had been approved.  Within hours, Isom went to the Foreign Ministry and met with Bounkeut Sangsomsack, the director of the ministry’s Department Two, the American Affairs Department.  According to Isom’s official report of the meeting, she told Bounkeut:

—I have a very delicate matter to take up with you.

—A foreign investor in Laos learned recently from a Lao government official in the Ministry of Industry, who related the information in the most matter-of-fact way, that a “colony” of Americans are living in a locale of northern Vientiane Province on the slopes of Phu Bia.

—The Lao official, in answer to the investor’s query, denied that the men in question [were] POWs but did assert that they were living there of their own accord.  He also noted that these were not Mennonites or Quakers or NGOs, but Americans who had stayed behind from the war.  They were neither protected nor living in custody and lived in a village.  They did not want to be disturbed, the Lao official stated.

—The United States government would be surprised, in light of the Lao government’s frequent statements that there are no Americans or POW/MIAs in Laos, if this assertion were true.  I need not tell you the consternation such information, founded or unfounded, could cause in the United States.  (Emphasis added.)

—I request that you investigate this allegation with the greatest discretion and let me know as soon as possible what you find.

Isom reported that after hearing her presentation, Bounkeut replied “he just could not believe such a story could be true” but assured her he “would pass the story immediately to his superiors and an effort would be made to investigate it.”

To characterize Isom’s actions and statements—and those of Baker, Schlatter, and other officials in Washington as well—as utterly shameful surely does not begin to adequately describe what had occurred.  Regardless, within the space of fewer than five days, Isom, Baker, Schlatter, and the others had “resolved” the Phu Bia sightings—and “consternation” had been avoided. (Emphasis in original.)

Retired U.S. Army Colonel Joseph Schlatter has, for what it is worth, a web site in which he continues to display the debunking spirit that he exhibited while head of the DIA’s Special Office.

Appendix 2: An Enormous Crime Ignored by the Press

An online database called the Book Review Index, available through paid subscription, seems to have supplanted the Book Review Digest as the most comprehensive listing of book reviews appearing in U.S. periodicals.  According to this source, An Enormous Crime, published by the mainstream St. Martin’s Press, received exactly three reviews.  The most favorable one was on September 17, 2007, in The New American.  Since that is a publication of the fringe right-wing John Birch Society, virtually nobody will ever see it, and if they do, they will discount it because of its source.  The other two were the narrow book-trade publications, Publishers Weekly on April 9, 2007, and Kirkus Reviews on April 15, 2007.

Under economic siege as they have been in recent years, the number of book reviews appearing in newspapers and magazines has probably been on the decline, but three reviews would seem to be an extraordinarily small number.  We might contrast it with, say, the attention given the 2009 offering of popular historian Douglas Brinkley entitled The Wilderness Warrior: Theodore Roosevelt and the Crusade for America.  The Book Review Index lists 12 reviews of Brinkley’s book.  They were in The New York Times, again in The New York Times Book Review, the New York Review of Books, The New Yorker, American Heritage, American History, USA Today, Time, Booklist, Library Journal, Kirkus Reviews, and the Canadian publication, National Post. 

This most recent book by Brinkley was not picked at random.  This reviewer has encountered him previously in what can only be described as a cover-up role, and on page 408 Hendon and Stewart provide the following quote from his 2004 hagiography entitled Tour of Duty: John Kerry and the Vietnam War:

Deeply committed to reestablishing U.S. diplomatic relations with Vietnam, in [Frances] Zwenig’s opinion the war was not officially over.  “We still had a lot of unfinished business to do,” she recalled.  “Until we cleared up the POW/MIA issue it was impossible for the Bush administration to embrace Vietnam in any way.  And the Republican right, including Bob Smith, were convinced, wrongly so, that American POWs were still being held captive. (Emphasis added)

David Martin

March 3, 2010

See also Forgotten and Remembrance, my tribute to my uncle, William Gray Bell, 6/21/26 - ???.



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