Peter Arnett revisits 1975 and asserts himself a witness of the times in Saigon Has Fallen. Arnett wins a Pulitzer; Arnett meets Neil Davis and Tim Page and Sean Flynn. Arnett gets another scoop. It’s mostly about Arnett’s love affair with AP that does get in the way of the story sometimes. AP can’t do wrong.
Once you get past that reverence, I found it a gruesome account of the war. Arnett seems to always have the perfect scoop. He was in Saigon in 1963, and he documented American involvement in the war that they weren’t suppose to be involved in.
Arnett receives the wrath of General Westmoreland and Lyndon Johnson, but in the end he’s always buddies with the top brass. It’s a great piece on the war. The most surprising part of the book is a post transcript at the end the book where Arnett offers anecdotes on his AP colleagues– all of them glowing reports.
For any fans of this era of history, it’s a must read, as Arnett documents the last days of Saigon before it fell to the Liberation Army of Vietnam.
Ok, I confess, I couldn’t put the book down. Check out One Crowded Hour, for a cross reference of Arnett, during the fall of Saigon.
Arnett only mentions Australian cinema-photographer Neil Davis once, who captured the footage of Tank NO. 843 rolling through the presidential palace for NBC. Davis only covered the Vietnam war from the ARVN side and rarely spoke of his achievements and awards. And on April 30, 1975, they were covering the event together.
Being a Pulitzer prize winner got in the way of a bigger story, at least disclosing his close friendship with Davis and a more intimate account on the fall of Saigon. I suppose there was some kind of Kiwi-Aussie rivalry going on, and it’s a shame that Arnett couldn’t have given his colleague more credit where it was due. Wait, Neil Davis didn’t work for AP.