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I'm really torn not giving this a 5-star review because I listened to this start to finish. When I was a kid, POWs were my heroes: My first grade teacher would show us pics of them in the newspaper coming home from Vietnam (so I thought they all came home, right?), and I just thought they were the greatest. So this book has special meaning to me, special horror.
First, I thought it was as well-researched as it could be, given the paranoia, and the cutthroat, you-do-that-we'll-do-this atmosphere. Some scary things happened to all individuals who investigated these situations. Scary? Hell, devastating! It was also interesting who stepped up to the plate, who got "bored" (Ed Bradley), who knuckled under, who got annihilated.
Second, I learned A LOT about the war! Yeesh, more than I can hold my head up about. Knew about Cambodia, didn't know Laos was as bad as Cambodia, but Thailand could've been? I'm glad to know. It's horrifying, but it helps to broaden my knowledge of what went on with the hunt for POWs.
Third, and I have to smile when I say this, I had no idea Ross Perot, yes Ross Perot, did so much, cared so much for the POWs and really, really tried to bring them home. More than our government did, with far less red tape and BS. No matter what your thinking of him might be, there are over 6,000 men who could've been brought home because of him.
This is a brilliant, brilliant, engaging book written by two obviously dedicated as hell people (who were juggling new parenthood) who have a variety of sources and, most notably, Bobby Garwood, possibly the only POW ever to escape Vietnam after so many years (and whose story will make you cry).
What makes it 4-stars rather than 5 isn't that there's no "sense of closure." That rather goes without saying. Of course we left POWs there, and left them there to die. Just as POWs were left in Korea, World War II, and no doubt World War I. War is an unbearable horror show that I can't even begin to wrap my mind around. No, what flummoxes me about the book, is that, after all of it, Monica Jensen-Stevenson is in Vietnam, sees a Caucasian man with pale blue eyes, making gun noises with a farm implement, obviously out of his mind. Village woman fling scraps of food at him and scream.
I understand the difficulty, but after a whole book, all her research, all the people she's spoken to, her very thought: I'm sure he'd rather be home...
She does nothing.
5 of 6 people found this review helpful
This book reveals a painful, sad, and frightening chapter in America's history. Words fail me.
Would you try another book written by Monica Jensen-Stevenson and William Stevenson or narrated by Bernadette Dunne?
Yes, I would try another book by this group, but it has a journalistic style that became wearing after a while and rather repetitive. It wasn't the balanced overview I was expecting, just one side of the issue. However a quick internet search provides the counter argument.
What was your reaction to the ending? (No spoilers please!)
I felt let down by the ending which just seemed to reach no resolution.
What does Bernadette Dunne bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you had only read the book?
There are lots of facts, figures and details about the US military and legal structure which the narrator made easy. I wouldn't have finished the written version of this book.
Could you see Kiss the Boys Goodbye being made into a movie or a TV series? Who would the stars be?
Yes I think I could see this but it would be a highly glamourising version if intended for a mass audience.
Any additional comments?
A thought provoking topic and interesting because much of the follow up was in the eighties which was during my lifetime. What I really wanted was a resolution to the issue of MIA in Vietnam, but I didn't feel this delivered. This is really the story of the researcher and her obsession with the story. I found it was difficult to follow and repetitive because it revealed the stories of individuals as told and then retold to the researcher rather than a chronological timeline. It certainly made me realise how much power the people give to authorities and how it is difficult to ever know truth. I found counter arguments online which completely trashed the assertions in this book and these helped me reach a balanced viewpoint which this book alone did not.