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Wednesday, February 13, 2013

American Chronicles: The Vietnam War (audiobook) by NPR




Published in 2013 by HighBridge Audio
Multicast performance
Duration: 3 hours, 40 minutes

NPR has collected 24 stories that were originally broadcast over their radio network concerning the Vietnam War. All of the stories are high quality productions. Some are quite moving. All are informative.

The collection starts with a look at the Vietnam War Memorial in Washington, D.C. followed by a story about a Washington, D.C. anti-war protest that was broadcast on NPR’s very first day (May 3, 1971). As the collection goes along the listener is treated to stories of Red Cross workers, orphans of the war, the analyst that leaked “The Pentagon Papers”, two stories by Walter Cronkite, actual tapes of Lyndon Johnson discussing how to present the war to the American people, the My Lai Massacre, refugees who fled the North Vietnamese conquest of South Vietnam, pilots and sailors that saved those refugees, the Kent State shootings and so much more.

South Vietnamese helicopter being pushed
 off the deck of the USS Okinawa to make
room for incoming refugees during

the evacuation of Saigon
The collection has a weak spot, however. There is little discussion as to the beginnings of the war and almost nothing said about the rationale behind it. There are multiple stories about protesters and not much about why the war started in the first place.

However, the last CD of this three CD set is very moving. It focuses on the end of the war, including audio spliced in from “letters” that were sent home on audiotape describing the chaos of the evacuation of Saigon as the South Vietnam collapsed in the face of the final push by North Vietnam. Some of the stories are depressing. One is a great testament to the U.S. Navy and its commitment to help as many of the refugees as possible. Perhaps the most moving of these audio letters is from the man whose name is the last name on the Vietnam War Memorial – the literal last man to die in the war (and its little side wars in neighboring countries).

I rate this book 4 stars out of 5.

Reviewed on February 12, 2013

Note: This audiobook was provided to me free of charge by the publisher through Audiobook Jukebox's Solid Gold Reviewer program in exchange for an honest review. 

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