My instructor assigned this book, but he mostly glossed over it in class. This is not a book to gloss over. The professor sees My Lai as an aberration, an exceptional case, but I think the lesson to take home from it is that under the right circumstances even decent and honorable people can become monsters. The My Lai incident is not widely remembered by the American public, but that is unfortunate, because it has been thoroughly investigated and meticulously documented, and it deserves to be remembered even though the military and the Nixon administration did their best to sweep it under the rug. Winston Churchill is cited in this book as saying that a nation without a conscience cannot survive, which is why I think ordinary Americans need to take a good hard look at My Lai and stop sleepwalking through history. I believe in American exceptionalism, but I don’t buy into the whatever-we-do-is-right theory of American history, and this book illustrates what is wrong with that theory.
Nov 11 2010
Four Hours in My Lai by Michael Bilton
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