OK, footnotes might seem boring, and they might frighten some potential book buyers, but any book concerning the controversy over Robert Garwood needs rigorous footnotes identifying the source or sources of various assertions. In Spite House (1997), the few footnotes are really odd; some minor matters are footnoted, major matters are not. The footnotes appear to have been tacked on, not by the author, and clearly not scrutinized by any editor.

The primary source appears to be Col. Tom McKenney. Now, he is probably a fine and honest man, but I suspect his assertions need double checking because of his apparent need to believe in one system or another 100%, first the Marine Corps and then, once disillusioned with the USMC, with his church. The leaps of illogic attributed to him and others are frightening.

One final note: it strikes me as absolutely absurd that the Vietnamese communists, fierce and proud soldiers and adamant nationalists (and contemptuous of South Vietnamese “puppets”) would allow American deserters to “lead” their tactical units (as the book several times says American intelligence officers believed).

If American officials did actually believe that, we have, I would guess, yet another example of our fatal, egotistical ignorance of Vietnamese history and thought. (My 2001 Amazon review)

2 thoughts on “Book Review: Jensen-Stevenson, Spite House”

  1. The only explanation is the truth-Garwood remained in Vietnam because he wanted to when he wanted to leave he left… Spite House is infuriating and dishonest rendered all the more so by Miss Jensen-Stevensons breathless prose style.

  2. So what’s the real story about Garwood, if anyone knows? If this book doesn’t settle it, is there a book that does?

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