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Extended Audio Sample Tour of Duty: John Kerry and the Vietnam War Audiobook, by Douglas Brinkley Click for printable size audiobook cover
3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (50 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Douglas Brinkley Narrator: Douglas Brinkley Publisher: HarperCollins Format: Abridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: January 2004 ISBN: 9780060747794
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Covering more than four decades, Tour of Duty is the definitive account of John Kerry's journey from war to peace. Written by acclaimed historian Douglas Brinkley, this is the first full-scale, intimate account of Kerry's naval career. In writing this riveting narrative, Brinkley has drawn on extensive interviews with virtually everyone who knew Kerry well in Vietnam, including all the men still living who served under him. Kerry also entrusted to Brinkley his letters home from Vietnam and his voluminous "War Notes" -- journals, notebooks, and personal reminiscences written during and shortly after the war. This material was provided without restriction, to be used at Brinkley's discretion, and has never before been published.

John Kerry enlisted in the Navy in February 1966, months before he graduated from Yale. In December 1967 Ensign Kerry was assigned to the frigate U.S.S. Gridley; after five months of service in the Pacific, with a brief stop in Vietnam, he returned to the United States and underwent training to command a Swift boat, a small craft deployed in Vietnam's rivers. In June 1968 Kerry was promoted to lieutenant (junior grade), and by the end of that year he was back in Vietnam, where he commanded, over time, two Swift boats. Throughout Tour of Duty Brinkley deftly deals with such explosive issues as U.S. atrocities in Vietnam and the bombing of Cambodia. In a series of unforgettable combat-action sequences, he recounts how Kerry won the Purple Heart three times for wounds suffered in action and was awarded the Bronze Star and the Navy’s Silver Star for gallantry in action.

When Kerry returned from Southeast Asia, he joined the Vietnam Veterans Against the War (VVAW), becoming a prominent antiwar spokesperson. He challenged the Nixon administration on Capitol Hill with the antiwar movementcheering him on. As Kerry's public popularity soared in April-May 1971, the FBI considered him a subversive. Brinkley -- using new information acquired from the recently released Nixon tapes -- reveals how White House aides Charles Colson and H. R. Haldeman tried to discredit Kerry. Refusing to be intimidated, Kerry started running for public office, eventually becoming a U.S. senator from Massachusetts. But he never forgot his fallen comrades. Working with his friend Senator John McCain, he returned to Vietnam numerous times looking for MIAs and POWs. By the time Bill Clinton was elected president in 1992, Kerry was the leading proponent of "normalization" of relations with Vietnam. When President Clinton officially recognized Vietnam in 1995, Kerry's three-decade-long tour of duty had at long last ended.

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Quotes & Awards

  • Tour of Duty succeeds in its polemical point. It convincingly shows us a man driven from an early age by a sense of destiny.” 

    New York Times

  • “Kerry’s combat experiences make for gripping reading, and later sections on his high-profile role in the antiwar movement are equally engrossing, including the Nixon White House’s efforts to discredit veteran-turned-antiwar-activist Kerry as a ‘phony.’”  

    Publishers Weekly

  • “With a chest full of medals—three Purple Hearts, Bronze and Silver Stars—Vietnam veteran John F. Kerry returned home a passionate activist against that war…This compelling biography details the judgment, heroism, and compassion of his wartime service and presents an unflinching account of the brutal actuality of jungle war fought by inadequately trained soldiers in a complex foreign setting.” 


  • “Built out of interviews and historical research, as well as Kerry’s diaries, there is enough of a war narrative here to satisfy Vietnam buffs, even if they aren’t interested in Kerry’s politics.” 


Listener Opinions

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Eileen | 3/20/2011

    " Everything you should know about this American tragedy -- the failure of geography, the failure of history, and the failure of the American government. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Gary | 3/7/2011

    " Terrific account. Very good read. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Amie | 1/12/2011

    " It amazes me that this happened. And, boy, do I need to get an emergency kit together. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Reid | 10/13/2010

    " Minute-by-minute account of a slow-motion train wreck, mainly caused by political and public service (think levee-board planning) failures in some cases over many decades. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Hannaheriley | 5/16/2010

    " Awesome. This book was so intense. I felt like I was there. Intense!!! "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Mary Lou | 5/3/2010

    " I learned just how badly broken our federal systems are when they are "supposed" to be there to help in times of need. I learned that politicians will say anything to make excuses for their craven behavior and shift the blame wherever they can. Brinkley is thorough and pulls no punches. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Converse | 4/1/2010

    " Covers the events in the week starting with the Saturday before Katrina reached the Gulf Coast to the Saturday afterwards. Needs maps of New Orleans and Mississippi coast. Too many literary & popular culture references

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About the Author
Author Douglas Brinkley

Douglas Brinkley is a professor of history at Rice University and a contributing editor at Vanity Fair. Six of his books have been selected as New York Times Notable Books of the Year, and The Great Deluge won the Robert F. Kennedy Book Award. He lives in Texas with his wife and three children.He has published several essays on Carter’s post-presidency, which have appeared in World Policy Journal, Foreign Affairs, Diplomatic History, and the New Orleans Review.