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Interviews | March 17, 2014

Shawn Donley: IMG Peter Stark: The Powells.com Interview

Peter StarkIt's hard to believe that 200 years ago, the Pacific Northwest was one of the most remote and isolated regions in the world. In 1810, four years... Continue »
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The Cat from Hue: A Vietnam War Story by John Laurence

singlescanner, May 23, 2008

I am breathless after having read this book. John ("Jack") Laurence, a CBS television correspondent who did three tours covering the war in Vietnam in the mid-1960s, draws on his vast experience, his notes, and the transcripts of the many hours of film he and his team shot to present a rich inside view of the Vietnam War.

Initially in favour of the war, Laurence comes to oppose it, but never loses his respect and affection for the soldiers--grunts--he encounters and interviews. Sharing their risks as he visits firebases, takes wild helicopter rides, and goes out on patrols and faces enemy fire, he provides as close a view a civilian possibly can of what combat is like. He traces the growing cynicism of the troops as the war progresses and the U.S. military and government pile lie upon lie to justify unlikely claims of success and progress.

And the cat in the title? Laurence rescued a starving kitten he discovered in Hue. The unlikely pair had a tumultuous relationship as Laurence's career progressed (with some tongue-in-cheek comments that the ferocious and often unfriendly cat was a Viet Cong agent.)

In the early 1980s, Laurence returned to post-war Vietnam and reports on what has--and hasn't--changed. He is amazed at how little animosity the people have towards Americans and they deal with the struggle of everyday existence without war.

What lessons we've ever learned from, and about, war seem quickly lost each generation. Laurence's book will remind you of some, and enlighten you. It is a masterpiece.
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