Juris Jurjevics, a novelist, editor, and the co-founder of the New York independent publishing house, Soho Press, died November 7 at age 75 of heart disease. Jurvevics, who was born in Latvia and emigrated to this country in 1950 with his family, was drafted into the U.S. Army and served a fourteen-month tour of duty as an MP in the Vietnam War in 1867-68.
After his discharge, Jurjevics went to work at Harper & Row in New York. He was one of three co-founders of Soho Press in 1986. His 2011 Vietnam War novel, Red Flags, focuses on corruption among South Vietnamese politicians and military men in the Central Highlands.
In response to an interviewer’s question about what prompted him to write the book four decades after coming home from Vietnam, Jurjevics said:
“No one had yet written about our running battle with the South Vietnamese, our hosts at the war we were paying to attend. I wanted to get into their elaborate, even treasonous corruption and our complicity in it. The Vietnamese were diverting our supplies – medicines, gasoline, ammunition, weapons, rations — to the black market and on to the enemy, and we looked away. They also avoided engaging the North Vietnamese invading their territory, and left it to their civilian village militias and our forces to bear the brunt of stopping them.
“Finally, I felt I owed it to the Montagnard tribes people to describe their mistreatment at the hands of the Vietnamese, persecution that got so bad it led to violent mutinies, which in turn caused terrible conflicts for their American advisers who actually felt a greater loyalty to the aboriginal tribes than to Saigon. “