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Honorable Exit

How a Few Brave Americans Risked All to Save Our Vietnamese Allies at the End of the War
Narrated by: Rob Shapiro
Length: 14 hrs and 40 mins
Categories: History, Military
5 out of 5 stars (1 rating)

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Summary

A groundbreaking revisionist history of the last days of the Vietnam War that reveals the acts of American heroism that saved more than 100,000 South Vietnamese from communist revenge

In 1973 US participation in the Vietnam War ended in a cease-fire and a withdrawal that included promises by President Nixon to assist the South in the event of invasion by the North. But in early 1975, when North Vietnamese forces began a full-scale assault, Congress refused to send arms or aid. By early April that year, the South was on the brink of a defeat that threatened execution or years in a concentration camp for the untold number of South Vietnamese who had supported the government in Saigon or worked with Americans.

Thurston Clarke begins Honorable Exit by describing the iconic photograph of the Fall of Saigon: desperate Vietnamese scrambling to board a helicopter evacuating the last American personnel from Vietnam. It is an image of US failure and shame. Or is it? By unpacking the surprising story of heroism that the photograph actually tells, Clarke launches into a narrative that is both a thrilling race against time and an important corrective to the historical record. For what is less known is that during those final days, scores of Americans - diplomats, businessmen, soldiers, missionaries, contractors, and spies - risked their lives to assist their current and former translators, drivers, colleagues, neighbors, friends, and even perfect strangers in escape. By the time the last US helicopter left Vietnam on April 30, 1975, these righteous Americans had helped to spirit 130,000 South Vietnamese to US bases in Guam and the Philippines. From there, the evacuees were resettled in the United States and became American citizens, the leading edge of one of America's most successful immigrant groups.

Into this tale of heroism on the ground Clarke weaves the political machinations of Henry Kissinger advising President Ford in the White House while reinforcing the delusions of the US ambassador in Saigon, who, at the last minute, refused to depart. Groundbreaking and authoritative, Honorable Exit is a deeply moving history of Americans at a little-known finest hour.

Includes a PDF of the principal characters list from the book.

PLEASE NOTE: When you purchase this title, the accompanying PDF will be available in your Audible Library along with the audio.

©2019 Thurston Clarke (P)2019 Random House Audio

Critic reviews

“America's years in Vietnam were full of shame, but the last days of the war saw a remarkable effort at redemption. Breaking rules set by their higher-ups, ordinary Americans - servicemen, diplomats, spies, private citizens - moved heaven and earth to get their Vietnamese friends and allies to safety. Thurston Clarke's Honorable Exit brings this little-known story to light with the speed and power of a riveting thriller. It challenges us to remember a time when Americans refused to abandon desperate people in a far-off country. It's a kind of Schindler's List for America's lost war.” (George Packer, author of The Assassins' Gate: America in Iraq and The Unwinding: An Inner History of the New America)

“Vietnam is America’s unfinished war - unfinished because so many, men and women, have yet to come home body and soul. Honorable Exit is that homecoming. Beautifully written, achingly poignant, scrupulously reported, this story is a revelation. We see history in ways we hadn't imagined. Honorable Exit is a book for every generation of readers.” (Doug Stanton, number one New York Times best-selling author of 12 Strong and The Odyssey of Echo Company

“Filled with new information and riveting recreations of daring rescues, this book adds significantly to the history of a notable moment in U.S. military history.” (Publishers Weekly)

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