* Act of War: Lyndon Johnson, North Korea, and the Capture of the Spy Ship Pueblo.
Cheevers, Jack (Author)
Dec 2013. 448 p. NAL/Caliber, hardcover, $26.95.
In January 1968, the USS Pueblo was engaged in electronic surveillance off the coast of North Korea. Apparently, the ship remained in international waters, but the government of North Korea still instructed a gunboat to attack and board the Pueblo and seize the crew. For the crewmen, what followed was an 11-month ordeal that included severe beatings and forced confessions. For the Johnson administration and the American public, it was an ongoing national humiliation that allowed some politicians, including Richard Nixon, to exploit fears about American weakness.
Reporter Cheevers uses interviews with crewmen, former members of the Johnson administration, and newly available government documents to provide a tense, absorbing, and timely account of the episode. At the heart of the narrative is the Pueblo’s captain, Lloyd Bucher, who behaved bravely in captivity, determined to guarantee the survival of his men. Figures in the U.S. government are portrayed less heroically, and the North Koreans are described as terrifyingly
thuggish and paranoid. This is an outstanding and necessary recounting of an affair that should remind us how dangerous the regime of North Korea remains.
— Jay Freeman