By Henry Mark Holtzer and Erika Holtzer

Reviewed by Joni Bour

For some time, I have owned this book and would often think about reading it, even picking it up and toying with the idea of glancing through it before placing it back on the shelf opting for another book instead. I guess I was afraid that Erika and Henry Holtzer might somehow tarnish my view of Jane Fonda - my pristine unveiled despising of Jane. I always liked my attitude in such matters. What if they told me things about her that I hadn’t known were true or worse that I had thought I had known? Though it would be another testimonial to the mystique and unrest of the Vietnam War, I really did not want anymore knowledge of Jane in my head.

I broke down and read it recently and in fact my worst fears were true, but not in the way I expected. I did feel pangs of guilt as I read page after page. They did tell me things about Jane Fonda I had not known, though none improved my image of her. What the authors did do however, was give a very detailed accounting of the cloud surrounding Jane Fonda and her activities in the early 1970’s, including trips to Vietnam and other foreign lands. I felt guilt because I had wasted so much time avoiding this book. It is a fine book. It is an incredible book actually. I found it be impressively detailed and well documented. As the scholars that they surely must be, they presented the information based on many sources that are easily verified. I cannot imagine the level of dedication and tenacity required of the authors in order for them to complete their work so thoroughly. I have read many books related to Jane Fonda and her exploits of the early 1970’s and none are better. None are even close.

The Holtzers presented information that was damning to say the least but were just as quick to give research that exonerated Ms. Fonda of acts that she has been accused of for years. Usually books that would seem more of a reference book than a memoir or fiction would bore me, even if they had useful information. To the contrary I was able to start from one cover and work to the other with little interruption At the end, I was struck by the fact that this book was so well researched and written that it could also easily be used as a reference book itself.

Knowing what I know about the activities of some American citizens during the Vietnam War, I am quite grateful to authors/researchers such as Erika and Henry Holtzer, for I credit them with great wisdom and fortitude themselves for being more objective than the person they chose to write about. I would think the authors would agree with my response to a friend not long ago who told me that Jane Fonda was vilified. “If Jane has been vilified, it has been by her own actions”. The authors make clear at the conclusion of their book what they think of Jane Fonda and her actions during the Vietnam War and I completely and wholeheartedly agree and am not afraid to say so. I do not know what the authors think now with so much time that has passed both since the war and since the writing of their book. Perhaps they feel a slight pang now and then that there is a time to let things go, to forget or pretend at least that past wrongs, however vile never happened. I feel a slight pang now and then like that, but it is so small it is a little like gas, maybe it is gas. Because I know that the proof is in the pudding or the book as it were and the things Jane Fonda and her associates did were in fact treacherous and immoral and yes villainous. I recommend this book more highly than I ever recommended any book as a work for history to be truly known.

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Posted 4/10/06