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Bookmarks Issue: 
24-Sept-Oct-2006
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A True Story of Men and War

A-TigerForceFor most Americans alive during the Vietnam War, the My Lai massacre signifies the most horrific, gratuitous violence to come out of the war. Perhaps that will change with the publication of Tiger Force. The authors use recently revealed documents and comprehensive research to recount the story of a platoon of 45 soldiers—bloodthirsty and for the most part unchecked by military discipline—created in November 1965 by Major David Hackworth (reportedly the inspiration for Marlon Brando’s character in Apocalypse Now) to "outguerrilla the guerrillas." For more than seven months, the Tiger Force pursued a reign of terror; in a 33-day period in 1967, troops recorded 120 kills, including women and children. The slaughter, concealed in the aftermath of My Lai and Watergate, was revealed only upon the death of an army investigator in 2002.
Little, Brown. 416 pages. $25.95. ISBN: 0316159972

Miami Herald 4.5 of 5 Stars
"[A] disturbing and powerful book. … The authors and a photographer spent 16 days in Vietnam using map grid coordinates gleaned from Army radio logs to pinpoint exact locations of the transgressions, interviewed Vietnamese eyewitnesses, Tiger Force veterans, and Army investigators, and examined thousands of documents." Ike Seamans

Minneapolis Star Tribune 4.5 of 5 Stars
"With Tiger Force, Sallah and Weiss have earned a place with Seymour Hersh (Chain of Command), Michael Herr (Dispatches) and Mark Bowden (Black Hawk Down) as chroniclers of war and the degradation of warriors. Their account is at once judicial and riveting—and, moreover, conveys a sense of respect for every person caught up in the maelstrom of horrors that was the Vietnam War." Joel Turnipseed

San Francisco Chronicle 4.5 of 5 Stars
"In an era when some pundits excoriate the press for irrelevance and bias, and budget-cutting publishers curtail time-consuming investigative reporting, this is one shining example of how journalism can fulfill its most noble aims: informing, and consequently, empowering the public." Edward Nawotka

Charlotte Observer 4 of 5 Stars
"Sallah and Weiss’s book is compelling, haunting, and eerily timely." Larry Timbs

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette 4 of 5 Stars
"Sallah and Weiss have done a commendable job of telling not only the overarching combat story but also the often wrenching personal stories. Their conclusions seem well founded; indeed, they are founded in large part on the Army’s own extensive investigation (which never saw the light of day)." Roger K. Miller

Washington Post 4 of 5 Stars
"Tiger Force adds a graphic, frightening dimension to our knowledge of the Vietnam tragedy, as well as our knowledge of ourselves. It is bound to be read far into the future." Stanley Karnow

Critical Summary

Sallah and Weiss, who won a Pulitzer Prize (along with fellow reporter Joe Mahr) for their reporting on the Tiger Force in the Toledo Blade in 2003, have crafted a compelling, chilling story. Reviewers draw obvious parallels between the events detailed here and the My Lai massacre, as well as recent incidents from the war in Iraq. The book is a primer on journalistic technique, the narrative drawn from firsthand accounts in interviews with victims’ families and more than 40 former members of the Tiger Force, as well as a suppressed 55-page document that came out of an army investigation. The authors visited the sites of many of the atrocities, pinpointing them through old radio logs. The result is one of the most important books on the Vietnam War.