On March 16, 1968, American soldiers killed as many as five hundred Vietnamese men, women, and children in a village near the South China Sea. In My Lai William Thomas Allison explores and evaluates the significance of this horrific event. How could such a thing have happened? Who (or what) should be held accountable? How do we remember this atrocity and try to apply its lessons, if any?
My Lai has fixed the attention of Americans of various political stripes for more than forty years. The breadth of writing on the massacre, from news reports to scholarly accounts, highlights the difficulty of establishing fact and motive in an incident during which confusion, prejudice, and self-preservation overwhelmed the troops.
Son of a Marine veteran of the Vietnam War—and aware that the generation who lived through the incident is aging—Allison seeks to ensure that our collective memory of this shameful episode does not fade.
Well written and accessible, Allison’s book provides a clear narrative of this historic moment and offers suggestions for how to come to terms with its aftermath.
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