by Michael Sallah and Mitch Weiss
Hodder & Stoughton, HK$128
'It was just murder,' Sergeant Gerald Bruner is quoted as saying in Tiger Force. 'It was plain, flat-out murder.' Between 1971 and 1975, army investigators gathered evidence of war crimes committed in 1967 by the 101st Airborne's elite Tiger Force in Vietnam's central highlands. The investigators found hundreds of villagers had been slaughtered, a dead baby decapitated for a necklace, an old man shot point-blank by the commanding lieutenant, ears and scalps taken. Michael Sallah, 49, Mitch Weiss, 46, and Joe Mahr, 33, of the Toledo Blade won the Pulitzer Prize for Investigative Journalism in 2004 for their four-part series Buried Secrets, Brutal Truths. Tiger Force tells the story from the viewpoint of the soldiers and the villagers who survived. The authors don't excuse these men, now in the 60s, for what they did, but offer an explanation of why they did it. The army knew what was happening, but did nothing and then buried the 55-page report. Parallels with Iraq may be drawn. Donald Rumsfeld was defence secretary then, too.