Word of Honor

Nelson DeMille, Author Grand Central Publishing $34 (518p) ISBN 978-0-446-51280-0
If fiction can assuage the lingering moral pain of the Vietnam War, it's through the kind of driving honesty coupled with knowledgeability that DeMille (By the Rivers of Babylon) employs here, in a story which, as riveting as The Caine Mutiny but with wider implications, probes the conflicting concepts of honor, duty and loyalty as they relate to an event of the My Lai varietyand assesses blame. Prompted by a just-published book that holds ex-lieutenant Ben Tyson accountable for a hushed-up massacre committed by his platoon in a Hue hospital 18 years before, the army recalls Tyson to stand trial for murder. Tyson, confronted by an army authority anxious to save its own face, an embarrassed federal government (which has its own ""deal'' to propose) and a threatened marriage, and entangled, furthermore, in his own past lives and present sense of guilt, must call on all his lawyer's cleverness and his own inner toughness to fight his case. The flashbacks to Hue, the pre-trial investigation (involving an attractive female major), the court-martial proceedings, the emotions of the principal characters and the soul-sickness wrought by war (which is the story's effective subtext)all are depicted with marvelous vividness. 50,000 first printing; $50,000 ad/promo. Foreign rights: Jack Ellison. November 11
Reviewed on: 11/01/1985
Release date: 11/01/1985
Genre: Fiction
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