A RANGER BORN: A Memoir of Combat and Valor from Korea to Vietnam

Robert W. Black, Author . Ballantine $24.95 (336p) ISBN 978-0-345-45241-2

There are two basic types of Vietnam War memoirs: embittered narratives written by those who see the war and their participation in it as a giant mistake, and gung-ho tales of derring-do by those who believe the conflict was a worthwhile endeavor. Black's effort falls squarely in the second category. A self-described "meat and potatoes guy," Black is a much-decorated, up-from-the-ranks retired army colonel who served honorably and well in the Korean and Vietnam Wars. His competently written memoir concentrates on his 1967–1968 Vietnam tour when he was a senior district adviser to the South Vietnamese Army in Long An Province southwest of Saigon. Black offers up a by-the-numbers account of his upbringing, his Korean War experience and his time in Vietnam, along with his ideas about why the American war effort floundered in Vietnam. He points accusatory fingers at "indecisive" American politicians for not allowing the U.S. military to wage all-out war against North Vietnam and at the American news media and antiwar movement for aiding and abetting the North Vietnamese and Vietcong. "Our own people were giving the enemy encouragement," Black complains. For many historians, these views (which are not uncommon among Black's peers) oversimplify matters. They do square, though, with a strain of patriotism in evidence since September 11. (Aug.)

Reviewed on: 06/10/2002
Release date: 07/01/2002
Genre: Nonfiction
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