[Note for TomDispatch Readers: There have been approximately 30,000 books published on the Vietnam War -- and then there’s Nick Turse’s new book, Kill Anything that Moves: The Real American War in Vietnam. No one has ever described the American killing machine in that country the way he has; nor, as he did, tracked down Americans charged with war crimes by the U.S. military in that era, nor tramped through distant rural Vietnam to hear what it felt to be on the other side of massacres or experience the American-imposed “system of suffering” in those years. A decade in the making, it is a book that should reshape in fundamental ways how we remember the Vietnam War.
Seymour Hersh, the reporter who broke the My Lai massacre story, calls it a “painful and important book,” a reminder of why “war should always be a last resort. We failed, as Turse makes clear, to deal after the Vietnam War with the murders that took place, and today -- four decades later -- the lessons have yet to be learned. We still prefer kicking down doors to talking.” Vietnam veteran Andrew Bacevich says that, with its publication, “the claim that My Lai was a one-off event becomes utterly unsustainable.”