Word of Honor

Word of Honor

by Nelson DeMille

Overview: He is a good man, a brilliant corporate executive, an honest, handsome family man admired by men and desired by women. But a lifetime ago Ben Tyson was a lieutenant in Vietnam.

There the men under his command committed a murderous atrocity — and together swore never to tell the world what they had done. Now the press, army justice, and the events he tried to forget have caught up with Ben Tyson. His family, his career, and his personal sense of honor hang in the balance. And only one woman can reveal the truth of his past — and set him free.

Deanna Boe (03/02/18): WORD OF HONOR was written in 1985. It brings back memories of the Vietnam War, and from that standpoint, when thinking of that war, it can be disheartening. In the novel it has been 18 years since the TET offensive and the battle of Hue. It tells of a shocking cover-up of one aspect of that battle. The main fallout from this novel is Ben Tyson who was a lieutenant at that time. Tyson is now an accomplished corporate executive, who is also handsome, greatly admired, married to a beautiful woman, and they have one teen-age son. The book points out how Tyson was in command of a group, which then consisted of only 19 men, went into a hospital and (for a lack of a better word) slaughtered over 100 men, women, and children. How did Lt. Tyson allow this to happen? How was it kept a secret all these years? What should the government/army do about it? DeMille grabs your attention and doesn’t let go right up until the very last page and it is a long book. You don’t know how it will end. Will Tyson go to prison? I really enjoy DeMille’s style of writing and how he gave Tyson a cutting sense of humor that gives relief to different aspects of the storyline. It also makes me sad to think how our war in Afghanistan has gone on far too long with no end in sight. Do we even think about it anymore?

One paragraph in the book really stood out for me. Tyson’s lawyer (who just happened to have served in Vietnam about the same time as Tyson but is a now a civilian) is talking to Tyson and remarks that when he hears what Tyson and his men did, were capable of, “then what hope is there for the rest of us?” Tyson goes on to say that after the war “I never thought there was any hope for any of us…..my concept of right and wrong and duty in that year of 1968 was influenced less by what I learned in the Army than by what I saw happening in America…..I found it difficult to do my duty to a country that wasn’t doing its duty to me.” In short, if you remember, our soldiers returned from Vietnam to be spit upon and ridiculed. Tyson “felt the country had abandoned him and his men and in fact the entire Army in Southeast Asia.” He wasn’t making excuses for his actions, but simply stating a fact, a fact that is sad to remember in 2018.
Rating: *****

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