In This Review

The Cat From Hue: A Vietnam War Story

The Cat From Hue: A Vietnam War Story
By John Laurence
850 pp, PublicAffairs, 2002

Laurence was as good a television journalist as any who covered the Vietnam War, going out in the field over and over from 1965 to 1970 and creating a renowned documentary, "The World of Charlie Company." After decades of writing, he has finally completed a memoir that relives not just the world of that company, part of the First Cavalry Division, but also the world of the TV reporter watching American infantrymen cope in every major phase of the war. His focus is always on soldiers in the field. Strategy and politics stay far in the background. Laurence helps a reader understand how TV tries to cover war -- the good and the bad. But above all, he matter-of-factly counters the familiar literary images of stylized characters in a surreal conflict. What stands out in this book is his plain, fair, and sympathetic observation of recognizably real Americans of every rank and the everyday detail that accumulates into the experience of war.