Synopses & Reviews
Covering more than four decades, Tour of Duty
is the definitive account of John Kerry's journey from war to peace. Written by acclaimed historian Douglas Brinkley, this is the first full-scale, intimate account of Kerry's naval career. In writing this riveting narrative, Brinkley has drawn on extensive interviews with virtually everyone who knew Kerry well in Vietnam, including all the men still living who served under him. Kerry also entrusted to Brinkley his letters home from Vietnam and his voluminous "War Notes" -- journals, notebooks, and personal reminiscences written during and shortly after the war. This material was provided without restriction, to be used at Brinkley's discretion, and has never before been published.
John Kerry enlisted in the Navy in February 1966, months before he graduated from Yale. In December 1967 Ensign Kerry was assigned to the frigate U.S.S. Gridley; after five months of service in the Pacific, with a brief stop in Vietnam, he returned to the United States and underwent training to command a Swift boat, a small craft deployed in Vietnam's rivers. In June 1968 Kerry was promoted to lieutenant (junior grade), and by the end of that year he was back in Vietnam, where he commanded, over time, two Swift boats. Throughout Tour of Duty Brinkley deftly deals with such explosive issues as U.S. atrocities in Vietnam and the bombing of Cambodia. In a series of unforgettable combat-action sequences, he recounts how Kerry won the Purple Heart three times for wounds suffered in action and was awarded the Bronze Star and the Navys Silver Star for gallantry in action.
When Kerry returned from Southeast Asia, he joined the Vietnam Veterans Against the War (VVAW), becoming a prominent antiwar spokesperson. He challenged the Nixon administration on Capitol Hill with the antiwar movementcheering him on. As Kerry's public popularity soared in April-May 1971, the FBI considered him a subversive. Brinkley -- using new information acquired from the recently released Nixon tapes -- reveals how White House aides Charles Colson and H. R. Haldeman tried to discredit Kerry. Refusing to be intimidated, Kerry started running for public office, eventually becoming a U.S. senator from Massachusetts. But he never forgot his fallen comrades. Working with his friend Senator John McCain, he returned to Vietnam numerous times looking for MIAs and POWs. By the time Bill Clinton was elected president in 1992, Kerry was the leading proponent of "normalization" of relations with Vietnam. When President Clinton officially recognized Vietnam in 1995, Kerry's three-decade-long tour of duty had at long last ended.
"Though never intended as a political biography, this book offers perhaps the most insightful examination available of the character of this or any other Democratic candidate." Publishers Weekly
"What the book also shows, however, on the basis of abundant evidence, is that the young Ivy Leaguer who went off and fought in Vietnam and then returned home to fight against the war was a born leader and a man of uncommon insight and intelligence. Not bad qualifications for the highest office in the land." Fredrik Logevall, The Washington Post's Book World
"This would be a timely book even if Kerry weren't running for president." Brendan Driscoll, Booklist
"The portrait of Kerry that emerges in this book is complex and multifaceted. He is not necessarily easy to know, and his actions are not necessarily easy to predict, but in Brinkley's view he is a conscientious and thoughtful man, adept at seeing all sides of an issue and taking decisive action." Elizabeth Shelburne, Atlantic Monthly
In Tour of Duty, Brinkley explores Senator John Kerry s career and deftly deals with such explosive issues as U.S. atrocities in Vietnam and the bombing of Cambodia. Using new information acquired from the recently released Nixon tapes, Brinkley reveals how White House aides Charles Colson and H.R. Haldeman tried to discredit Kerry. Refusing to be intimidated, Kerry started running for public office, eventually becoming a U.S. Senator from Massachusetts. Covering more than four decades, this is the first full-scale definitive account of Kerry s journey from war to peace. In writing this riveting, action-packed narrative, Brinkley has drawn on extensive interviews with virtually everyone who knew Kerry well in Vietnam. Kerry also relegated to Brinkley his letters home from Vietnam and his voluminous war notes journals, notebooks, and personal reminiscences written during and shortly after the war. This material was provided without restriction, to be used at Brinkley s discretion, and has never before been published.
About the Author
Douglas Brinkley is a professor of history at Rice University and a contributing editor to Vanity Fair. The Chicago Tribune has dubbed him "America's new past master." His most recent books are The Quiet World, The Wilderness Warrior, and The Great Deluge. Six of his books have been selected as New York Times Notable Books of the Year. He lives in Texas with his wife and three children.