*International No 1 bestelling novelist's electrifying thriller about the moral maze of man at war.
Nelson DeMille is one of America's most popular and bestselling authors, and a new book from him is a keenly awaited event. A former US Army lieutenant who served in Vietnam, he is the author of nine acclaimed novels. He lives in Long Island, New York.
If fiction can assuage the lingering moral pain of the Vietnam War, it's through the kind of driving honesty coupled with knowledgeability that DeMille (By the Rivers of Babylon) employs here, in a story which, as riveting as The Caine Mutiny but with wider implications, probes the conflicting concepts of honor, duty and loyalty as they relate to an event of the My Lai varietyand assesses blame. Prompted by a just-published book that holds ex-lieutenant Ben Tyson accountable for a hushed-up massacre committed by his platoon in a Hue hospital 18 years before, the army recalls Tyson to stand trial for murder. Tyson, confronted by an army authority anxious to save its own face, an embarrassed federal government (which has its own ``deal'' to propose) and a threatened marriage, and entangled, furthermore, in his own past lives and present sense of guilt, must call on all his lawyer's cleverness and his own inner toughness to fight his case. The flashbacks to Hue, the pre-trial investigation (involving an attractive female major), the court-martial proceedings, the emotions of the principal characters and the soul-sickness wrought by war (which is the story's effective subtext)all are depicted with marvelous vividness. 50,000 first printing; $50,000 ad/promo. Foreign rights: Jack Ellison. November 11
'The military scenes have the gunmetal ring of authenticity ... a long, over-the-shoulder look at a time that grows larger as it recedes from sight' - TIME magazine
This huge and merciless account follows an ordinary corporate man, Ben Tyson, as his Army commission is reactivated so that he can be court-martialed on charges of murder. The events go back 15 years to a hospital in Vietnam where his platoon took heavy action and many civilians died. Did he wantonly kill enemy and civilian alike? The investigation, intended to restore military honor after My Lai, gives no quarter. All the hostile witnesses are called up while friendly witnesses are lost or silent. Tyson's own sense of honor lets him give only tiny scraps of information even to his attorney. The courtroom sequences are so powerful that most of the other action is like filler. The dialogue rings true and shows a gift for wit and timing. Apart from its unfortunate length and a slightly over-drawn hero, this succeeds as a mature and compassionate statement about Americans at war in Vietnam. Barbara Conaty, Medical Coll. of Wisconsin, Milwaukee