In June of 1831, when William Chapman died mysteriously at his home near Philadelphia, suspicion lit on a mysterious stranger who had become friendly with Chapman’s wife. The case grew into a scandal and a trial so well documented that it has now become the basis for an enthralling historical account. In The Murder of Dr. Chapman (HarperCollins, 290 pages, $23.95), Linda Wolfe, whose previous books include Wasted: The Preppie Murder , makes these long-ago characters seem as lurid yet as immediate and real as any today.
Michael P. Kelley opens Where We Were in Vietnam (Hellgate Press, 848 pages, $39.95) with a quotation from Michael Herr’s 1968 book Dispatches : “There were installations as big as cities with 30,000 citizens … posh fat airconditioned camps like comfortable middle-class scenes … number-named hilltops in trouble where I didn’t want to stay; trail, paddy, swamp, deep hairy bush, scrub, swale, village, even city.…” They’re all here. Kelley has subtitled his book A Comprehensive Guide to the Firebases, Military Installations and Naval Vessels of the Vietnam War , 1945–1975, and it contains thousands upon thousands of references, glossaries of acronyms, gridded maps, everything to help the veteran find out where he was or the student identify a patch of jungle or bend of river. And throughout the cascades of information gleam interesting facts, as when we learn of the 9th Infantry Division, “Beginning in ’67 its 2nd Bde was assigned to Mobile Riverine Forces ops with the USN, the 1st time since the Civil War an army unit became amphibious and completely afloat.”