Plattner dedicates this memoir to sharing the efforts to clear his name, efforts that culminated not just in exoneration but in an administrative discharge board finding that he should be retained in the Marine Corps Reserve as “a valuable asset to the service.” After this harrowing experience, Plattner achieved success as a journalist, and then salesman, all while continuing as a reservist. Readers will be fascinated by the ethical dilemma this memoir raises—especially the potential conflicts between the roles of reporter and warrior—as well as the gripping context it provides for the larger narrative of the Vietnam War.
The contents are compelling, particularly the disclosure of military bureaucracy’s effect upon an investigation that often was mysterious, which lightens the text’s occasional disconnected feel. Plattner includes extensive documentation to provide an external perspective for readers, most notably two appendices with military reports and correspondence related to his case, and his attention to detail illuminates elements of the conflict that could have been easily overlooked. The pressures Plattner faced are ably sketched, as is the function the press was expected to fulfill within Vietnam. In the end, readers will empathize with Plattner’s quest for equity and celebrate alongside him when he achieves exoneration, finally.
Takeaway: A Vietnam-era memoir about a journalist and soldier clearing his name after the military finds those roles in conflict.
Great for fans of: Robert M. Smith’s Suppressed, Conrad M. Leighton’s War Stories: A GI Reporter in Vietnam, 1970-1971.
Design and typography: N/A
Marketing copy: A-