Mammoth Book of the Vietnam War; includes John McCain’s capture


Mammoth Book of the Vietnam War
By Jon E Lewis

Published by Constable & Robinson; Dist. by Allen & Unwin
RRP $19.99 in paperback
ISBN 9781472116062

Memory isn’t a reliable thing, I can tell you. I didn’t remember having received other ‘Mammoth’ books by Jon E Lewis for review but well-kept databases don’t lie.

In May 2013, I received the book:
The Mammoth Book of Combat: Reports from the Front Line

In April 2014, I received the book:
The Mammoth Book of Covert Ops

And this year,
The Mammoth Book of the Vietnam War

Background: By 1969, following the French defeat at Dien Bien Phu, more than 500,000 US troops were “in country” in Vietnam. Before America’s longest war had ended with the fall of Saigon in 1975, 450,000 Vietnamese had died, along with 36,000 Americans. The Vietnam War saw the establishment of the Navy SEALs and Delta Force. At home, America fractured, with the peace movement protesting against the war; at Kent State University, Ohio National Guardsmen fired on unarmed students, killing four and injuring nine.

As an editor, Lewis has selected some of the best writing to come out of a war covered by some truly outstanding writers, both journalists and combatants. His selection includes an eyewitness account of the first major battle between the United States Army and the People’s Army of Vietnam at Ia Drang and Pulitzer Prize-winner Seymour Hersh on the massacre at My Lai.

What I found most topical, given the current verbal attack on veteran Senator John McCain by US presidential hopeful Donald Trump, is McCain’s short but straightforward account of his capture after he ejected from his aircraft over Hanoi and the subsequent very poor medical treatment he received for his injuries. His captors did not expect him to survive. He acknowledged that he survived only because of his father’s high ranking in the US Navy – the only reason his captors provided any medical treatment at all, he believes, because the North Vietnamese saw considerable propaganda value in his capture. I think we are on Senator McCain’s side in his tawdry treatment by a man who will say anything at all to get attention. To McCain’s credit, it’s not for himself that he is concerned but for other veterans.

For those who are interested, there are many Mammoth titles published by Constable & Robinson, which is part of Little, Brown book group in the UK. According to informed sources (Wikipedia) Constable & Robinson commenced publishing books in 1795 as Constable & Co. That’s quite a history.

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