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The Vietnam War on Trial

The Vietnam War on Trial

By Michal R. Belknap



The military trial of William Calley for his role in the slaughter of 500 or more Vietnamese civilians at My Lai shocked a nation already sharply divided over a controversial war. This work is a retelling of the My Lai story through the prism of the law. One of the most highly publicized trials of its day, the Calley case emerged at a time when protests against the war were growing larger. Well aware of this, the Nixon administration sought to downplay the My Lai incident, which military officers in Vietnam had tried to cover up in order to protect their own careers and reputations. The investigations of Ron Ridenhour and Seymour Hersh revealed the full extent of the My Lai tragedy, further inflamed the anti-war movement, and brought to trial Lieutenant William Calley. Unfolding the Calley, this work shows how the system of military justice actually works. It shows how a court-martial conducted within the public eye transformed a purely legal proceeding into a political debate about the conduct of the war. The text portrays Calley as both criminal and victim - guilty of the crimes of which he stood accused, but also an unintended scapegoat of the American military machine.

ISBN: 9780700612123


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