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Kill Anything That Moves: The Real American War in Vietnam
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Kill Anything That Moves: The Real American War in Vietnam

4.13  ·  Rating Details ·  1,030 Ratings  ·  187 Reviews
Based on classified documents and first-person interviews, a startling history of the American war on Vietnamese civilians

The American Empire Project
Winner of the Ridenhour Prize for Reportorial Distinction

Americans have long been taught that events such as the notorious My Lai massacre were isolated incidents in the Vietnam War, carried out by just a few "bad apples." But
Paperback, 416 pages
Published December 31st 2013 by Picador (first published August 30th 2011)
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Feb 17, 2013 Amanda rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: vietnam, non-fiction, blog, war
In his famous chapter How to Tell a True War Story from the Vietnam classic The Things They Carried, Tim O'Brien says, "True war stories do not generalize. They do not indulge in abstraction or analysis. For example: War is hell. As a moral declaration the old truism seems perfectly true, and yet because it abstracts, because it generalizes, I can't believe it with my stomach. Nothing turns inside. It comes down to gut instinct. A true war story, if truly told, makes the stomach believe" (78).

Aug 30, 2014 Kaora rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
We shoot the sick, the young, the lame
We do our best to kill and maim
Because the kills all count the same,
Napalm sticks to kids.

Ox cart rolling down the road,
Peasants with a heavy load,
They're all VC when the bombs explode,
Napalm sticks to kids.

This book is a little bit different than what I normally read, but I feel it is an important topic. I knew very little of the Vietnam War. I grew up in Canada and our history lessons mainly focused on what the British did or Canada's role in important bat
Jan 30, 2013 Bennet rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A difficult but worthwhile read even though I've heard much of the history before because I've read a lot about this war. Difficult because it is all so disturbing and sad no matter how much you've read or already know. Worthwhile because this particular compilation of events and perspectives was needed, and Turse did an admirable job despite how grueling it no doubt was, sufficient to merit 5 stars, in my opinion. I don't know how widely it's being read but I'm glad to see the many positive rev ...more
Sep 27, 2012 Joseph rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I never thought I would be a little embarrassed to have been a Marine. Kill Anything That Moves, by Nick Turse is a very disturbing account of American actions in Vietnam.

Mai Lai Massacre is just the tip of the iceberg of American atrocities in Vietnam. This book goes beyond the most famous massacre and beyond napalm and beyond Agent Orange. Day to day murders of civilians for the “body count”, killing everyone in the village including women and children along with all the animals, were not jus
Randy Fertel
Jan 06, 2013 Randy Fertel rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Kill Anything That Moves is the total fulfillment and completion of Ron Ridenhour's belief, which he took to his early grave, that My Lai was not an aberration but an operation like many another. (Ridenhour was the man who blew the whistle on My Lai -- see Turse supports Ron's idea with evidence based on government documents and interviews with veterans and victims. The evidence is as incontrovertible and devastating as it is discomforting. Turse's tone is angry but restrained--j ...more
Jan 19, 2013 John rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I'm reading the book. Promotions of officers were tied to the "body counts," accrued in as short as six month's time. Combatants received perks ( extra beer and food, better R&R, permission to wear non-regulation clothing, etc. ) based on the numbers of dead gooks.

From the book:

According to Wayne Smith, a medic with the 9th Infantry Division, the body count system led to a "real incentivizing of death and it just fu@ked with our value system. In our unit, guys who got confirmed kills would
Craig Werner
Feb 14, 2013 Craig Werner rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: vietnam
As I read this frustrating, unremitting book, I found myself thinking of a line from Alfredo Vea's great Vietnam novel, Gods Go Begging: "It's true, but it's not the truth." Turse is determined to correct what he sees--incorrectly I think--as a thorough whitewashing of the nature of the war in Vietnam by insisting over and over and over again that atrocity was the center of the story. On meaningful levels, that's true, and Turse provides copious documentation of both individual and systemic abus ...more
Lou Gremalgi
Jan 09, 2013 Lou Gremalgi rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Dr. Turse does not approach this gem of fastidious and copious research, as reporting on mistakes or acts of a few renegades but proves beyond the shadow of a doubt, that the policies of the political and military hierarchy dictated a kill anything that moves culture that subjected the people of Vietnam to horrors America for decades has refused to acknowledge, and thus we are doomed to repeat.
The voices that came before him Ridenhour, Buckley, Hirsh, were shouted down with an orchestrated gover
Larry Bassett
Feb 17, 2013 Larry Bassett rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: war, history
This review contains considerable material quoted directly from the book Kill Anything That Moves. While it is a book about the past, it is clearly about things that happen still in the present day, right up until the immediate moment of August 6, 2013. I dedicate this review to Bradley Manning, a whistleblower who has been prosecuted by the U.S. government even as I have been reading this nonfiction account of atrocities carried out in our name.

If you didn’t believe it already, Kill Anything Th
Mal Warwick
Mar 04, 2013 Mal Warwick rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction
A Wrenching View of the U.S. Military at War in Vietnam

If you were following the news in 1971, chances are you were aware at least dimly of the Winter Soldier investigation, when American soldiers, sailors, and marines testified to the atrocities they had witnessed, or even participated in, during their service in Vietnam. You may also have come across reports in newspapers and magazines from time to time about other war crimes committed by the U.S. military there. However, like most of us who f
Nick Lloyd
Reading this book will make it abundantly clear to you why the United States lost the war in Vietnam. If you were to read this after completing Iris Chang's The Rape of Nanking, which details the atrocities of the Japanese in their conquest of China during the early years of WWII, you would think the actions of Americans in Indochina were far more similar to those of Imperial Japanese soldiers than they are to their modern US counterparts. As someone who has been studying guerrilla warfare for s ...more
Peter Mcloughlin
This book is numbing to read. It is hard to go through the litany of atrocities and absorb the impact fully and I think that grasping the magnitude of the slaughter and barbarity of the Vietnam war is not possible. 58,000 U.S. servicemen were killed in the war. The Pentagon estimates that 1,100,000 Vietnamese were killed and a Harvard study puts the death toll at 3,000,0000 the same figure is claimed by the current Vietnamese government. This book describes the U.S. conduct of the war with batta ...more
Rob Prince
Apr 14, 2013 Rob Prince rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Unfortunately an excellent book. I say unfortunately because it is an accurate picture of the slaughter of Vietnamese by the U.S. military during the war the U.S. launched against that country. It's like reading about the holocaust - 4 million Vietnamese killed, a figure itself lost in history. the book not only details hundreds of `My Lais' but it explains the warped rationale (McNamarra's body count psychosis)for the slaughter. The book is well researched, unsparingly painful, deadly accurate. ...more
Quentin Stewart
Feb 03, 2013 Quentin Stewart rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book will become a must have addition to anyone’s Vietnam War library and marks a turning point in how we will look at the war in the future. My Lai has become the accepted aberration of the war, but Turse opens new doors through his dogged research to show that maybe it was not an aberration, but accepted policy of the government and of the military higher ups.

Pouring through Pentagon archives followed up with interviews with veterans and also with the survivors of the incidents Turse give
Dave Moore
I understand that the agenda Mr Turse puts forth is to enlighten the reader that the U.S. forces in Vietnam showed little regard for civilians, that the "body count" figures were absurd (and no real indicator of progress in the conflict), and that these facts were covered up, denied, and the responsibility of the upper echelons directing the military.
His approach could do with a dose of balance, however. The fact is, atrocities of various grotesque types were committed equally by NLF and Vietcon
Feb 11, 2013 Jimmy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: war-vietnam
I found it difficult to read this book because I was in Vietnam and this catalogue of slaughter was troubling to handle. All I can do is tell the stories of my experiences when I write. Many soldiers look at killing in war as a survival technique. They defend what they are doing by claiming they want to live and have the other guy die. Some soldiers need to look at the "enemy" as less than human in order to kill them. It seems to me that part of the solution is good training, finding some way to ...more
Michael Burnam-Fink
"War is hell."
- William Tecumseh Sherman

“The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”
― Edmund Burke

Most brutal armies: The Mongol Horde. The Nazi Wehrmacht. Military Assistance Command Vietnam? Yes, it was that bad.

This book fills a vital gap in the literature. According to Turse, roughly 30,000 non-fiction books have been written about Vietnam (I have quite a few to go. *gulp*). Those that concern war crimes tend to focus on specific incidents, particularly
David Bales
Feb 16, 2013 David Bales rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2013
Difficult to read, obviously because of the subject matter, Nick Turse was able to mine the National Archives for war crimes investigation reports that had been sitting unread for 40+ years from the Vietnam War which led to hundreds of hours of interviews with U.S. veterans and Vietnamese to come up with this monumental work on what he calls the "real war" in Vietnam. That is, a war that killed mostly civilians and where American firepower was directed against an often defenseless and innocent p ...more
Apr 08, 2013 Rebecca rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is an important book. I always had a somewhat vague knowledge that things did not go well for the civilians living in Vietnam during the time of the Vietnam War, but I had no idea it had been this bad. The author lays out the evidence showing systematic, pervasive, and horrifying brutalization, torture, rape, murder, and general mistreatment of civilians all over that nation during the war at the hands of American troops. This book will open your eyes. If only a fraction of the crimes alleg ...more
Dec 06, 2014 Joshua rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: viet-war
Nick Turse has written a polemical work on the Vietnam War that basically offers nothing new or revolutionary about our understanding of the conflict. Anytime an author suggests that what they are writing is "new" or "revolutionary" or "eye-opening" or a "secret history," I immediately become suspicious. Sometimes that suspicion is unfounded. But, in this case, Turse fits the bill as someone packaging old wine in a new bottle.

His central claim is that "Murder, torture, rape, abuse, forced displ
Ted Diamond
Mar 23, 2014 Ted Diamond rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The stories of the casual massacres of South Vietnamese are heartbreaking. And even though this book speaks to only a fraction of the civilians suffering in that senseless war, it is valuable. It is not an easy read, if for nothing else, for the metronomic regularity of the accounts by which American and South Korean soldiers unleashed their demons in torture, rape, and murder of the civilians they were supposedly protecting. It is not an easy read, but I would recommend it to anyone.

Apart from
Aug 06, 2015 Matt rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: vietnam
Turse’s premise is that atrocities committed during the Vietnam War exceeded (both in number and intensity) what is commonly stated in history books, and this culture of atrocities was ordered and covered up by military and government officials stretching up to the Pentagon itself. The sheer amount of events he discusses and witnesses he mentions show the massive extent of the research that went into making this book, and for that, Turse should be commended.
But the book itself falls short from t
John Pappas
Jan 15, 2013 John Pappas rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a mind-bendingly horrifying, nausea-inducing account of the myriad atrocities committed by American (as well as Korean and South Vietnamese) soldiers during the Vietnam War. Turse uses extensive documentary evidence, interviews and official documents and communications to show the inevitability of massive civilian casualties as a direct result of command policy. The widespread and daily disregard for civilian safety, a policy of torture and mutilation designed to intimidate and terrorize ...more
Miroku Nemeth
May 02, 2013 Miroku Nemeth rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is one of the most painful books to read that I have ever read. Not since my studies of genocide have I had to put down a book, my eyes full of tears, repulsed at the realities of pure evil that I have had painted in words before me. Based on declassified military documents and interviews with veterans and survivors, anyone who wants to speak on the slaughter that was Vietnam should read it. I feel, as a teacher, as painful as it may be to read, I have an obligation to understand and report ...more
Jul 07, 2013 David rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-2013
This book must be read widely. It must be absorbed. It must be dealt with. More and more, what troubles me about this country is its utter inability to own up to past atrocities. We make movies about underdogs, where the villains are those with power who bend the rules to their own favor. We are outraged when the rules only apply to subsets of humanity. This book brilliantly and utterly conclusively demonstrates widespread atrocities carried out by Americans in Vietnam, and even more importantly ...more
Bryan Alexander
Feb 24, 2013 Bryan Alexander rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
Excellent, damning book on US war crimes in Vietnam.
Meticulous sourcing, including fine archival work, is essential to making Turse's case: that the method of conducting the war in Vietnam directly caused horrible, repeated atrocities. Moreover, awareness of those crimes increased, then was quashed.

"[S]uch events occurred in shocking numbers. They were the very essence of the war...
When you consider this, along with the tallies of dead, wounded, and displaces, the scale of the suffering becomes
Feb 15, 2013 Mark rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
This book is horribly important, since it relies upon the documents and records of the US military itself to call into account a huge set of lies this nation has labored under ever since the Vietnam war came to a close in 1975. One of these lies, of course, is that My Lai was an aberration, something out of the ordinaire. As the book proves, there were hundreds if not thousands of My Lais, with the citizen population of Vietnam just as much a target of American power as were the combatants of th ...more
Feb 03, 2013 Vince rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Turse airs out much of the dirty linen that was suppressed during the Viet Nam War, and further ignored in the atermath as the country wanted to forget about the one we lost. It's a tough go and on quite a few occasions I had to put it down and get my mind on something else, as the brutality inflicted by US troops (from the top on down - much of the indiscriminate killing was planned/encouraged by senior officers and officials) is described in gruesome detail. Mai Lai was not a one-off event, th ...more
Jan 30, 2013 Eva rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Nick Turse makes the case based on in depth research--including American military investigations-- that My Lai was not an isolated rare incident in the Vietnam War but rather the "norm" in a context in which the lives of civilians were of no value to the people running the war from the top on down to the grunts. Imagine 5,0000 plus civilians killed for no reason other than living in Vietnam. No one was safe--not infants, not women, not the elderly, not children and certainly not any man anywhere ...more
Mike Graef
Mar 20, 2014 Mike Graef rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
One of the best history books I've ever read. Also, such an important perspective as we weigh strategies for the wars of today and tomorrow. Since it seems we won't be having a war-free future any time soon, what we learn about the reality of the Vietnam War will continue to be absolutely necessary and indispensable. Are we hard-wired for dehumanization, or for love and kinship (not tribalism). How will future generations be able to tell? It's up to us.
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“The true purpose of the various directives, regulations, and pocket-sized codes of conduct handed out to troops was not to implement genuine safeguards for noncombatants, but to give the military a paper trail of plausible deniability.” 1 likes
“In Vietnam, the statistically minded war managers focused, above all, on the notion of achieving a “crossover point”: the moment when American soldiers would be killing more enemies than their Vietnamese opponents could replace.” 1 likes
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