Beyond Glory: Medal of Honor Heroes in Their Own Words, by Larry Smith. Norton. 320 pages. $26.95.
Smith, long an editor with The New York Times and then managing editor of Parade, interviewed 24 of the living 142 recipients of the Medal of Honor, the U.S. top decoration for gallantry. Six served in World War II, six in Korea and the rest in Vietnam. Smith's interview pieces are largely direct quotations, though he writes descriptive and transitional material very articulately. The stories are compelling, dramatic and often amazingly modestly told. The personalities are diverse, ranging from very simple to the complexity of U.S. Sens. Daniel Inouye and Bob Kerrey. Smith, who has never been in the military and was a war protester during Vietnam, writes in his preface that "Ours is an age in need of and in search of heroes. These men are the heart and soul of what distinguishes this country." A book of powerful convictions and human values.