Nick Turse spent 10 years poring over recently released court records of the Vietnam War Crimes Working Group and talking to countless Vietnam veterans to compile a book that documents in detail a United States military strategy of "overkill," or, in the words of one vet: "We was going to kill anything that we see and anything that moved." The enemy, according to this logic, was everywhere and nowhere, with uniform or without, old and young, male and female... and relentless. The results were an unparalleled display of bombardment, chemical defoliation and ground fire. Turse notes that "the amount of ammunition fired per soldier was twenty-six times greater in Vietnam than during World War II." Sadly, the people of South Vietnam bore much of the brunt of this onslaught. While there were 400,000 American dead and wounded, Turse cites estimates suggesting that Vietnamese civilian casualties exceeded seven million.
Turse's premise in Kill Anything That Moves is clear: the top levels of the U.S. government and military directed combatants in Vietnam to fight an unconventional enemy through overwhelming firepower without regard for civilians or the Geneva Rules of Engagement--and, he continues, other than the My Lai incident, which the Army for a time called a military victory, they covered up the atrocities that resulted. He makes a compelling, detailed and haunting case. --Bruce Jacobs, founding partner, Watermark Books & Cafe, Wichita, Kan.