The Cat From Hue
Author: John Laurence
This is the true story of a young American reporter who went to Vietnam with an open mind and an innocent heart and was plunged into a world of cruel beauty and savage violence. His experiences in the war forced him to question all his assumptions about his country, the nation's leaders and his own sanity.
John Laurence covered Vietnam for CBS News from 1965 to 1970. He was judged by his colleagues to be the best television reporter of the war. He and his camera team lived with a squad of U.S. troops in the jungles of War Zone C to film The World of Charlie Company, a documentary that received every major award for broadcast journalism. Despite the professional acclaim, the traumatic stories Laurence covered became a personal burden that he carried long after the war was over. He struggled with memories of the Tet Offensive and the Battle of Hue, incoming artillery at Khe Sanh and Con Thien, the wounding of those around him, the deaths of his friends, the killing of civilians, a colonel who smoked opium during the siege of his camp, American troops who fell in love with their dead comrades. Mostly, his conscience haunted him about a close encounter with a North Vietnamese soldier that forced him to make a decision of life and death.
After years of reckoning with his memories, Laurence has made sense of them in this memoir by weaving them into a compelling story. It is laced with humor, anger, love, and the unforgettable tale of a very idiosyncratic cat who was determined to play his part in the Vietnam revolution. In reconstructing his experiences, he has relied not only on his notes and memory, but also on hundreds of hours of film footage shot at the time. This gives the book an uncanny vividness and fidelity to facts.
A fantastic first hand account from a reporter on the scene living the experience. I remember, as a child, seeing some of his reports on the television evening news.
After reading the book, I went to YouTube and found the most important of these reports and re-watched them. I found the combination of the report, together with now knowing his thoughts at the time from the book, so much more impactful.His powerful story left me with a more emotional understanding of the experience.
The book, and re-watching, helped me form an even more vivid understanding of the experience. I hope it does so for you as well.