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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

4.16  ·  Rating details ·  1,455 ratings  ·  233 reviews
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 as award-winning journalist and historian Nick Turse demonstrates in this groundbreaking investigation, violence against Vietnamese noncombatants was not at all exceptional during the conflict. Rather, it ...more
Hardcover, 370 pages
Published January 15th 2013 by Metropolitan Books (first published August 30th 2011)
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Kafkasfriend The Vietnam war is over, the problems in Palestine, Israel, Ireland remain (although Ireland is much settled now, I can't see it going back to the…moreThe Vietnam war is over, the problems in Palestine, Israel, Ireland remain (although Ireland is much settled now, I can't see it going back to the days when it was legal to persecute a Catholic and ban them from work, beat them for civil rights protests etc); Palestine/Israel has to stop relying on a work of fiction (Book of Moses). The Vietnamese are amazing in their forgiveness, not sure I can forgive or forget US foreign policy then or now(less)

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Jul 28, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: war
3.5 Stars

A insightful and shocking expose of US armed forces during the Vietnam War. I had not read or listened to any books on this subject and this did make for grim but important reading and while I struggled through it, I feel I have gained a little insight to a war that I learned very little about in history class

This is a very well researched and written account and one I listened to on audio which I think might have been a tad easier had I sourced a hard copy of the book as I found the t
Feb 17, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: vietnam, blog, war, non-fiction
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 rated it it was amazing
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
Joseph Spuckler
Sep 27, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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
Craig Werner
Feb 14, 2013 rated it did not like it
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
Randy Fertel
Jan 06, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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 rated it it was amazing
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
Lou Gremalgi
Jan 09, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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
Mal Warwick
Mar 04, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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
Larry Bassett
Feb 17, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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
Dec 06, 2014 rated it it was ok
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
M.L. Rio
The best way I can think to describe this book is "unbalanced." Turse's project is obvious from the get-go, which isn't a bad thing, but his argument isn't particularly strong and sometimes fades into the background so it feels like he's just describing atrocity for the sake of the shock value. (Moreover, I don't think anyone who has a working knowledge of the Vietnam War is going to be all that shocked by any of what he's reporting.) The bigger problem is his failure to engage or even acknowled ...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 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 rated it it was amazing
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
Sep 06, 2013 rated it liked it
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 rated it really liked it
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
May 27, 2014 rated it it was amazing
"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
Written with a clear bias, which given the extent of atrocity and human rights violations that occurred, is not exactly unforeseen. It is a truly robotic person who isn't the slightest bit disgusted by reading Turse's recitation of what happened at My Lai, (one of the most well-known operations of the Vietnam War) or really, any tiny hamlet US troops were told to "search-and-destroy". All that death and destruction rained down on an undeserving people, culminating in a ultimately failed venture ...more
David Bales
Feb 16, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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 20, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: cold-war
Extremely hard to rate this book using the Goodreads rating system, while I did not love the book, its subject matter and content made it very hard to read and get through, it was and is something that needs to be known and read. The author does a very good job of painting a well documented and vivid picture of the atrocities the US armed forces and its allies regularly carried out against the Vietnamese people, showing that they were systematic abuses rather than aberrations as the My Lai Massa ...more
Apr 08, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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
Jayden gonzalez
one of the best Call of Duty: Black Ops strategy guides you'll find, second only to BradyGames’s official Call of Duty®: Black Ops Signature Series Strategy Guide, which includes full-color maps that pinpoint critical locations in every SP and MP level.
Jun 20, 2019 rated it really liked it
This book is one of the hardest things I've ever read. I don't mean that in a "this sucks" way. I mean that it's the emotional literary version of "Dear Zachary: A Letter to a Son About His Father." You might totally lose faith in humanity.

It is surreal to read a book like Karl Marlantes' "What It Is Like to Go to War" and then "Kill Anything That Moves" shortly after. In "What It Is Like to Go to War," Marlantes recounts a time where he got on a train in the USA while in uniform and on leave.
Mar 15, 2019 rated it really liked it
This is the American war machine. Treating war like a business where body counts became quotas. Guns placed in the hands of young men who were taught that preying on the helpless is the same as being strong. As an audiobook, the rapes, mutilation, cruelty, and murder felt endless. A reminder that racism and colonialism serves a crucial function in erasing human conscience by teaching that only some lives matter, the few whose consciences survived allowed the truth to be told.
Feb 13, 2019 rated it it was amazing
The most depressing, infuriating, and truly essential book I've read in a long time. Understanding the systemic policies that allowed and encouraged nonstop massacres of civilians by American troops is important to be able to resist those same policies being employed again, and understanding that they already are, in fact, in effect.
John Pierre
Nov 21, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This is a book that everyone should read but cannot be recommended in any way. It was a miserable, emotional, soul crushing read that details American atrocities in Vietnam. If you want to continue believing that America’s army is a peace force liberating the evils around the world, do not read this book.
Aug 09, 2014 rated it it was amazing
This book is extremely unsettling. It was difficult to read atrocity after atrocity, massacre after senseless massacre, rape after gang rape, the conditions in "concentration zones" which did not have the basic essentials of life, and the constant abuse in the field of elderly, women, and children, not to mention extensive, graphic, and brutal torture. This reads more like a masters thesis or a dissertation than a book, thanks to the overwhelming amount of citations, amounting to about one third ...more
Ted Diamond
Mar 23, 2014 rated it it was amazing
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.

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