The Cat from Hue: A Vietnam War Story
John Laurence. New York: Public Affairs, 2002. 850 pp. Maps. $30.00 ($27.00).
Reviewed by Jeffrey Record
John Laurence has written a towering memoir of the Vietnam War. The Cat from Hue is an elegantly told story of a lost war by the best television reporter of that conflict. It also is a personal catharsis for a man whose soul was seared by his experiences in Vietnam. "It wasn't only that I needed to tell my story," writes Laurence. "I had to learn what the war had done to me. By writing about the war I have learned how to survive it."
Lawrence covered the Vietnam War for CBS News from 1965 to 1970 and saw more combat than most of the fighting men he interviewed. In one gut-wrenching instance, he deliberately caused the killing of a North Vietnamese soldier. Indeed, Lawrence became addicted to battlefield danger, which, once stateside, he replaced with alcohol and drugs. Making matters worse, as his combat thrill grew in Vietnam so too did his disillusion with the war.