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Truth about Vietnam suddenly in demand

WASHINGTON – The release of the war film, “Ride the Thunder: A Vietnam War Story of Victory and Betrayal,” suddenly is generating new interest and excitement over the critically acclaimed 2009 book that inspired it.

Richard Botkin’s book, “Ride the Thunder: A Vietnam War Story of Honor and Triumph,” has received overwhelmingly superlative reviews at Amazon.com, with 88 percent of readers giving it five stars. Despite being out for several years, the book is skyrocketing now and has become the No. 4 best seller in Military History.

Readers rave:

But Botkin, a 15-year veteran of the United States Marine Corps and executive producer of the film, said introducing the book to new readers is just part of a long battle to educate the American people about the war to save South Vietnam from the Communists.

In an exclusive interview with WND, Botkin observed, “Academia is so controlled by leftists who hate America or are at best indifferent to her. And it’s hard to show the reality that the South Vietnamese were the good guys, not the bad guys.”

Read the WND book that inspired the film, “Ride the Thunder: A Vietnam War Story of Honor and Triumph” – autographed at the WND Superstore!

For that reason, Botkin is gratified, though not surprised, by the success of the film generated by his book.

“Film is the first way to reach people and hopefully move them to read the book and found out more about what really happened in that war,” he said.

As WND reported, the film, “Ride the Thunder,” reduced audiences to tears with its portrayal of South Vietnamese Marine commander Le Ba Binh, who served 13 years in combat and then suffered for 11 more years in a Communist prison camp after the war.

One Vietnamese-American gentleman who attended the premiere said his brother, a Republic of Vietnam general, was his hero, but he called Botkin his “second hero” for bringing “Ride the Thunder” to the screen and showing the struggles of the South Vietnamese.

Botkin reported “Ride the Thunder” generated more revenue per screen than any film in any theater in the nation. The Vietnamese-American population of California has been especially receptive, providing the film with near constant coverage through Vietnamese language media.

See WND’s extensive coverage of the wildly successful “Ride the Thunder” premiere in Westminster, California

Botkin believes the film version of “Ride the Thunder” will awaken Americans to the sad fate of Vietnamese anti-Communists left to certain defeat after the U.S. government abandoned the war effort. But the full story, he says, is more complicated than anything that can be shown in a film.

“I hope the film will lead people to the book, and the argument of the book is that we abandoned them shamefully. Most people in the know are still embarrassed about it. We guaranteed their defeat by starving them.

“But the reason that happened was because of larger trends in both domestic politics and foreign policy. I always say the biggest victims of Watergate, for example, were the Vietnamese people, because it helped lead to a chain reaction where President Nixon was no longer in office to forcefully respond to the Communists breaking treaty arrangements,” Botkin said.

“There are a lot of intricacies in all of that. You can’t reduce it to sound bites. That’s why the book version of “Ride the Thunder” is so important.”

He said, “The film was inspired by the book and it would not have happened without it, but the book can tell more of the whole story.”

Veterans are rallying to both the film and the book versions of “Ride the Thunder” because they are tired of being portrayed as victims, Botkin said.

But he suggests Americans in general are hungry for a history of the war that doesn’t portray Americans and their allies as dupes or villains.

“I think the film is succeeding and the book is doing well because we nailed it. No. 1, because it’s the truth and people want to hear the truth. And No. 2, the truth is pro-American and pro-Vietnamese, non-Communist Vietnamese.”

Botkin reports theaters already have asked to expand screenings of the film version of “Ride the Thunder,” and the intent of Botkin and his team is to take it nationwide.

And with sales of the book that inspired the film increasing, he has hope Americans may finally begin to understand the true history behind the Vietnam War.

“Most Americans will like it, though the likes of John Kerry and Jane Fonda probably won’t,” he said.

Watch the trailer for the film, which was released on March 27 at the Regency 10 theaters in Westminster, California, where it’s being shown eight times a day for a week: