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Kill Anything That Moves: The Real American War in Vietnam

de Nick Turse

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4532054,858 (4.51)14
History. Military. Nonfiction. HTML:

Based on classified documents and first-person interviews, a startling history of the American war on Vietnamese civilians
The American Empire Project
Winner of the Ridenhour Prize for Reportorial Distinction
Americans have long been taught that events such as the notorious My Lai massacre were isolated incidents in the Vietnam War, carried out by just a few "bad apples." But as award-winning journalist and historian Nick Turse demonstrates in this groundbreaking investigation, violence against Vietnamese noncombatants was not at all exceptional during the conflict. Rather, it was pervasive and systematic, the predictable consequence of official orders to "kill anything that moves."
Drawing on more than a decade of research into secret Pentagon archives and extensive interviews with American veterans and Vietnamese survivors, Turse reveals for the first time the workings of a military machine that resulted in millions of innocent civilians killed and wounded-what one soldier called "a My Lai a month." Devastating and definitive, Kill Anything That Moves finally brings us face-to-face with the truth of a war that haunts America to this day.

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» Veja também 14 menções

Mostrando 1-5 de 20 (seguinte | mostrar todas)
This book was a not easy to read, especially in a way of sitting down for long periods to absorb the material because of the disturbing subject matter. I found that 20-25 pages was my limit in any one reading. A very well written account of the American war crimes in Vietnam that have been hidden not only from the American public but to members of the U.S. Armed Forces (past and present). As a Army and Air Force veteran, this book was hard to read on multiple levels but it should be required for all Officer and NCO leadership training. Probably the two hardest facts to live with: How much misery and brutality was inflicted on the people of Vietnam and how unprofessional the American military was in training, planning, conducting and envisioning all operations in SE Asia in the 1960-70s. ( )
  John_Hughel | Feb 18, 2024 |
I first read this in high school to write a report on the rape and trafficking of Vietnamese girls and women, but reading this a second time did not make getting through it any easier. well researched, well written, graphic, and horrifying. ( )
  GarzaDream | Mar 5, 2022 |
I never thought I would be a little embarrassed to have been a Marine. Kill Anything That Moves, by Nick Turse is a very disturbing account of American actions in Vietnam.

Mai Lai Massacre is just the tip of the iceberg of American atrocities in Vietnam. This book goes beyond the most famous massacre and beyond napalm and beyond Agent Orange. Day to day murders of civilians for the “body count”, killing everyone in the village including women and children along with all the animals, were not just isolated incidents. It happened too many times to be isolated incidents of a few bad leaders. Misinterpretation of the rules went deep. Search and Destroy was not meant to be destroy everything yo find. Free Fire Zones were not meant to be shoot anything that moves, yet many in leadership roles believed this to be true. If your body count is low...shoot some prisoners to bring it up. Murder and rape were dismissed under the unofficial “Merely Gook Rule”

It is sad that people look back to World War II and ask how backward was man's thinking then to let those atrocities happen back then. United States being a liberator and “the good guy” fighting evil, only twenty years later to turn it around and become the “bad guy.” It wasn't just the soldiers and Marines in the field committing massive war crimes. It was American leadership doing it too. America came to war with weapons that were primarily intended to severely would the enemy; cluster bombs, flechettes, napalm. The idea was it was more demoralizing to the enemy to see it's soldiers painfully wounded, burned, disfigured, or crippled than simply just dead.

My first thoughts, being a Marine and of course learning the long and proud tradition of the marine Corps was to consider Turse's book hyperbole or plain sensationalism. I imagine this would be close to how the Soviets would have written about America's imperialistic war in Vietnam. Of course, there were a few mistakes most of us have heard of from Born on the Fourth of July to any number of “based on a true story” Vietnam movies. A few not hundreds of “mistakes.” Turse backs up his writing with almost one hundred pages of documentation. Almost a third of his book (not counting index) is documentation. He makes a compelling and well documented case. A very worthwhile, but disturbing read.
( )
1 vote evil_cyclist | Mar 16, 2020 |
Excellent book. THIS is how war progresses. Quite the exhaustive argument against military action. ( )
  marshapetry | Nov 20, 2019 |
Kill Anything That Moves is based on previously unused archival material and interviews, and tells the tale of American systematic disregard for Vietnamese lives and the atrocities that were committed during the Vietnam war.

In some of the first pages, Turse recounts the well known story of the My Lai massacre from 1964, in which American soldiers murdered around 400 unarmed South Vietnamese civilians, both men, women-many of whom were raped, children and infants. Only one soldier, Second Lieutenant William Calley, was convicted, and he ended up servicing only a few years under house arrest. Contrary to what is oftentimes thought today, however, the My Lai massacre was the rule of American warfare in Vietnam, and not an abhorrent exception. The rest of the book reads a descent into more and more indiscriminate violence and successively increasing depravity. Although the book at times becomes a catalogue of violence and horror, we are never brought out of context.

Turse traces the various factors that contributed this culture. He starts with boot camp, which consciously dehumanized the soldiers and taught that obedience was paramount. Illegal orders were common, and soldiers, who did not have extensive training in the legality of war, often had to be uncertain about how to respond. Often those who gave the orders did not themselves know what was legal and not.

"Body count"- enemies killed, is term that runs through the book. The ubiquitous focus on body counts seems to have been partly an effect of the system's priorities, but became also a driver itself, since both honor and more tangible rewards were distributed on the basis of that measure. This lead to a practice in which any killed civilian (or even water buffalo) was labelled as Viet Cong, and also incentivized the killing of those civilians. A part of this was Pentagon pursuit of the "crossover point", at which enemies were killed faster than they were replaced. The "mere gook rule" said killings of Vietnamese were nothing to worry about.

"Free fire zones," special areas of dubious legality in which everyone could be killed, were instituted.

A number of actions by the US army served only to alienate the Vietnamese population: people were driven away from their homes, villages, hamlets and crops were burnt, animals were killed, people were shot at, collective punishment enforced, corpses were mutilated. Sometimes the population starved and raided the garbage of the soldiers for food. Some soldiers started making adornment of their victims, e.g. ears on cords.

In the chapter on torture, the practices initially described bears a sinister resemblance to the revelations of the maltreatment of prisoners that occurred in the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq in the early 2000's: Electricity to body parts, water torture, beatings, humiliations. The torture was not restricted to these practices, though, Turse goes on to list among other things, hanging people upside down, inserting needles under fingernails, ripping out nails, shackling people tightly in tiny "tiger cells", severe beatings, and free reign being given to Vietnamese interrogators, and claims that all this was widespread. Even applied to the enemy, these practices are controversial, to say the least. In a context were those in the field had huge discretion, soldiers often did not know who were the enemy and were constantly in danger, and proper trials were not held, a large number of innocents had to be harmed.

A chilling question is whether also the graver torture that is documented for the Vietnam war have occurred in recent wars, in particular in Afghanistan and Iraq. Given the similarity of at least some of the practices, there is perhaps no good reason not to suspect that there may be more.

Turse allocates much time to "Speedy Express," an operation that took place in a few months from December 1968 to May 1969. This operation condoned massive deadly force on a previously unseen scale, with possibly thousands of civilians killed.

A bipartisan delegation visited, two members saw some mistreatment, etc. and reported on it, but were suppressed in the final report. Whistle blowers were not listened to.

In general resistance to the war not in the news to begin with. A little more after a while, much with My Lai, then more. Veterans started to come forward and make the atrocities known. These were often harassed. Daniel Ellsberg leaked "the pentagon papers," partly about American disregard for Vietnam lives, etc. Pentagon fought against publication. Conference in Oslo just a week after publication of the pentagon papers, about warfare in Indo-China. Damning statement from commission.

Turse does not offer any quick fixes for current or future war-makers to avoid the atrocities of Vietnam, he seems content to document how bad the war really was. It is a worthwhile endeavor. ( )
  ohernaes | Sep 5, 2013 |
Mostrando 1-5 de 20 (seguinte | mostrar todas)
But however horrific the many, many individual acts of brutality are to read about, Turse's larger conclusion is even worse. Turse comes to understand that most of the atrocities were committed with official sanction, in fact, were committed because of U.S. policy that demanded body counts, number of "enemy" killed, as the borderless war's only metric of accomplishment. He writes, "U.S. commanders wasted ammunition like millionaires and hoarded American lives like misers, and often treated Vietnamese lives as if they were worth nothing at all."
adicionado por ozzer | editarThe Huffington Post, Peter Van Buren (Mar 18, 2013)
 

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History. Military. Nonfiction. HTML:

Based on classified documents and first-person interviews, a startling history of the American war on Vietnamese civilians
The American Empire Project
Winner of the Ridenhour Prize for Reportorial Distinction
Americans have long been taught that events such as the notorious My Lai massacre were isolated incidents in the Vietnam War, carried out by just a few "bad apples." But as award-winning journalist and historian Nick Turse demonstrates in this groundbreaking investigation, violence against Vietnamese noncombatants was not at all exceptional during the conflict. Rather, it was pervasive and systematic, the predictable consequence of official orders to "kill anything that moves."
Drawing on more than a decade of research into secret Pentagon archives and extensive interviews with American veterans and Vietnamese survivors, Turse reveals for the first time the workings of a military machine that resulted in millions of innocent civilians killed and wounded-what one soldier called "a My Lai a month." Devastating and definitive, Kill Anything That Moves finally brings us face-to-face with the truth of a war that haunts America to this day.

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