DIKSIA.COM - Word of Honor is a novel by American author Nelson DeMille, published in 1985. It is the first novel by DeMille that deals with the Vietnam War, a controversial and traumatic topic for many Americans.
The novel explores the themes of honor, guilt, justice, and forgiveness through the story of Benjamin Tyson, a successful executive who is accused of participating in a massacre of civilians in Hue, Vietnam, in 1968.
The novel begins with Tyson reading a book by Andrew Picard, a journalist who was in Hue during the Tet Offensive. The book, titled “Hue: Death of a City”, exposes a horrific incident that occurred in a hospital called Misericorde, where Tyson's platoon allegedly killed hundreds of wounded Vietnamese soldiers and civilians. Picard names Tyson as the platoon leader who ordered the massacre.
Tyson is shocked and outraged by the book, which he claims is full of lies and distortions. He denies any involvement in the massacre and says he was only following orders from his superiors.
However, his life is turned upside down when the Army recalls him to active duty and charges him with murder. Tyson faces a court-martial that could result in life imprisonment or even death penalty.
Tyson hires Vincent Corva, a civilian lawyer and Vietnam veteran himself, to defend him. Corva is skeptical of Tyson's innocence at first, but gradually becomes convinced that he is telling the truth.
Corva also develops a romantic interest in Karen Harper, an Army officer who is assigned to investigate Tyson's case. Harper is torn between her duty and her feelings for Tyson, whom she also believes is innocent.
The novel alternates between the present-day trial and flashbacks to Tyson's experiences in Vietnam. Through these flashbacks, the reader learns more about Tyson's platoon members, their personalities, their motivations, and their fates.
The reader also learns more about the circumstances that led to the Misericorde Hospital Massacre, the role of Prince Jin (a mysterious and powerful Vietnamese warlord), and the cover-up that followed.