Americans have long been taught that events such as the notorious My Lai massacre were “isolated incidents” in the Vietnam War, carried out by a few “bad apples.” However, as award-winning journalist and historian Nick Turse demonstrates in this pioneering investigation, violence against Vietnamese civilians was not at all exceptional. Rather, it was pervasive and systematic, the predictable consequence of official orders to “kill anything that moves.”
Drawing on a decade of research into secret Pentagon files and extensive interviews with American veterans and Vietnamese survivors, Turse reveals the policies and actions that resulted in millions of innocent civilians killed and wounded. He lays out in shocking detail the workings of a military machine that made crimes in nearly every American unit all but inevitable. Kill Anything That Moves takes us from archives filled with Washington’s long-suppressed war crime investigations to the rural Vietnamese hamlets that bore the brunt of the war; from boot camps where young American soldiers learned to hate all Vietnamese to bloodthirsty campaigns like Operation Speedy Express, in which a general obsessed with body counts led his troops to commit what one participant called “a My Lai a month.”
Devastating and definitive, Kill Anything That Moves finally brings us face-to-face with the truth of a war that haunts America to this day.
Nick Turse, an award-winning journalist and historian, is the author of The Complex and the research director for the Nation Institute’s TomDispatch.com. His work has appeared in the Los Angeles Times, the San Francisco Chronicle, and The Nation. Turse’s investigations of U.S. war crimes in Vietnam have gained him a Ridenhour Prize for Reportorial Distinction, a Guggenheim Fellowship, and a fellowship at Harvard University’s Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study. He lives near New York City. (Henry Holt & Company)