June 29, 2004,
EDITOR'S NOTE: This article appears in the July 12, 2004, issue of National Review.
At around 8:30 p.m. on March 15, retired admiral Roy Hoffmann was sitting at his desk in Richmond, Va., when the phone rang. He picked up the receiver and heard a familiar voice. It was John Kerry. The two men weren't close, but they had served together in Vietnam, when the admiral was a captain and the senator a lieutenant. Kerry wanted to discuss some urgent business: the negative portrayal of Hoffmann in Douglas Brinkley's best-selling new book
"He said I'd been unfairly maligned and that he respected me and thought I was a good leader in Vietnam," recalls Hoffmann. "I told him it sure as hell doesn't look like it."
No, it sure as hell doesn't. Brinkley's book basically an authorized account of Kerry's life through the early 1970s portrays Hoffmann as a shameful villain who represented everything Kerry despised about the military and Vietnam. "The senator told me he hadn't even read the entire book," says Hoffmann. "He wanted to know if there was anything that should be corrected when a revised version comes out." (Kerry also may want to revise his own phone records: When Hoffmann checked the caller ID, it read "H. J. Heinz III" the name of Teresa Heinz Kerry's first husband, the Pennsylvania senator who died in 1991.)
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