My Lai

My Lai

Vietnam, 1968, and the Descent Into Darkness

Book - 2017
Average Rating:
Rate this:
"During the summer of 1971, in the midst of protests and demonstrations in the United States against the Vietnam War, it became public for the first time that something horrific had happened in the remote South Vietnamese hamlet of My Lai. Three years previously, in March 1968, a unit of American soldiers engaged in seemingly indiscriminate violence against unarmed civilians, killing over 500 people, including women and children. News filtered slowly through the system, but was initially suppressed, dismissed or downplayed by military authorities. By late 1969, however journalists had pursued the rumors, when New York Times reporter Seymour Hirsch published an exposé on the massacre, the story became a national outrage. Howard Jones places the events of My Lai and its aftermath in a wider historical context. As a result of the reporting of Hirsch and others, the U.S. army conducted a special inquiry, which charged Lieutenant William Calley and nearly 30 other officers with war crimes. A court martial followed, but after four months Calley alone was found guilty of premeditated murder. He served four and a half months in prison before President Nixon pardoned him and ordered his release. Jones' compelling narrative details the events in Vietnam, as well as the mixed public response to Calley's sentence and to his defense that he had merely been following orders. Jones shows how pivotal the My Lai massacre was in galvanizing opposition to the Vietnam War, playing a part nearly as significant as that of the Tet Offensive and the Cambodian bombing. For many, it undermined any pretense of American moral superiority, calling into question not only the conduct of the war but the justification for U.S. involvement. Jones also reveals how the effects of My Lai were felt within the American military itself, forcing authorities to focus on failures within the chain of command and to review training methods as well as to confront the issue of civilian casualties--what, in later years, came to be known as 'collateral damage.' A trenchant and sober reassessment, My Lai delves into questions raised by the massacre that have never been properly answered: questions about America's leaders in the field and in Washington; the seeming breakdown of the U.S. army in Vietnam; the cover-up and ultimate public exposure; and the trial itself, which drew comparisons to Nuremberg. Based on extensive archival research, this is the best account to date of one of the defining moments of the Vietnam War."-- Provided by publisher.
Publisher: New York, NY : Oxford University Press, [2017]
ISBN: 9780195393606 hardcover ; acid-free paper
0195393600 hardcover ; acid-free paper
Branch Call Number: 959.7043 JON
Characteristics: xxvi, 475 pages, 32 unnumbered pages of plates : illustrations, maps, portraits ; 25 cm


From the critics

Community Activity


Add a Comment
Nov 12, 2018

For those who THINK they know the whole story of My Lai (as I did) owe it to themselves and others of this generation to read this book. As indicated by others comments (above), it is not a pleasant read, and certainly the shear length and almost painstaking detail that results in an accounting of about 500 pages can make for slow progress. However, it is possible to "cut to the chase" by just examining the first few chapters precluding the infamous story that made headlines and fueled an onslaught of protest, disgust and outrage around the world. Those initial sections is like uncovering some huge piece of evidence, that completely challenges any previous beliefs you may have held. I suddenly had empathy and understanding of the mindset that prompted such horrific and staggering actions. "My Lai" will completely change your definition of "having an open mind". Although it's history, although you may be familiar with the facts, you won't have a full perspective of this tragedy until you've read Howard Jones' book.


Add Age Suitability

There are no ages for this title yet.


Add a Summary

There are no summaries for this title yet.


Add Notices

There are no notices for this title yet.


Add a Quote

There are no quotes for this title yet.

Explore Further

Browse by Call Number


Subject Headings


Find it at KCLS

To Top