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Medic!: The Story of a Conscientious Objector in the Vietnam War [Kindle Edition]

Ben Sherman
3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)

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Book Description

A conscientious objector who served as a medic during the Vietnam War offers an unflinching, compelling account of his experiences on the battlefield, describing his work with the injured and dying in the heart of combat.

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Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 974 KB
  • Print Length: 306 pages
  • Publisher: Ballantine Books (18 Dec. 2007)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B000XUBFJ2
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #242,571 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

3.3 out of 5 stars
3.3 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars No soldier's story is an average one 26 Feb. 2010
Format:Mass Market Paperback
In the words of Ben Sherman himself: "My story says little about courage under fire, brilliant strategies, right versus wrong, glory, regrets, or political necessities. It's mostly a story about a kid who got drafted and refused to kill anybody".

Whether or not you agree with his convictions, or his actions, he remained committed to his beliefs and never held a gun during his time in the army. He went into combat as a medic, was left for dead after his medevac helicopter was shot up, was saved by his sergeant and mentor, and always attempted to save lives where he could.

Sherman makes no attempt to paint himself as courageous or a hero, quite the opposite. Reading his book for the second time recently, I spotted tinges of remorse and guilt that I didn't remember before - the book seems like his way of dealing with this guilt and his awe at how his comrades seemed better equipped mentally and physically for what they went through.

Read the last few pages carefully. The friendly fire rocket attack on the last helicopter out is perhaps not as clear cut as you would think. Before he types the amended list, to remove the dead and add the next-in-line, he'd been amongst the carnage treating casualties and doing his job as a medic - making sure as many as he could would live to go home. I don't feel I could judge him, because I've never been in that situation and hope I never will. He was in Vietnam 100 days and spent the rest of his tour working in a military hospital in Hawaii, before attempting to rebuild his life on his return home.
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5.0 out of 5 stars I love it 9 Sept. 2014
By steve
Format:Mass Market Paperback|Verified Purchase
a very good story
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2 of 8 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars The biggest coward in the Vietnam War 6 Sept. 2007
Format:Mass Market Paperback|Verified Purchase
If I could give this book -10 I would. It is not for the fact its a bad story, but its the fact this guy managed to secure REMF jobs for most of his short tour. He was helping devise a list of people to return home i.e. time served Vets with not long to serve. A bomb/rocket landed amongst a group awaiting a helicopter ride and killed/injured many of them. The author compiled a new list and managed to sneak himself on it. He got on the plane next to one of his officers (who didnt bat an eyelid) and was home before he knew it. He had been in Vietnam a matter of months. He could of put someone on the list but no. This guy makes me sick.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.0 out of 5 stars  28 reviews
12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A different kind of soldier 15 Nov. 2004
By A Customer - Published on
Format:Mass Market Paperback
"Medic!: The Story of a Conscientious Objector in the Vietnam War," by Ben Sherman, is an exciting, well-paced narrative that reads more like a novel than a memoir. The book tells how Sherman was drafted and was classified as a noncombatant soldier; he didn't carry a weapon, but still went into Vietnam and was exposed to danger in the combat zone. As a medic, he tended the wounds of his fellow soldiers.

The early part of the narrative includes texts of the letters sent between Sherman and the draft board as he sought to evade combat service. The narrative goes on to explore his work on a navy troopship and on the ground in Vietnam. He vividly describes the sights, smells, and sounds of service in the war.

The book is full of fascinating scenes, such as a political debate among the doctors and medics in a surgical theater. Sherman portrays the American soldiers in Vietnam as a diverse group: people with varying backgrounds, interests, and attitudes on various topics. Much of the book is very raw, sweaty, and in-your-face. But parts of the book are also graced with a touching, poetic delicacy. The final chapter includes insight on the writing of the book.

Sherman's account of the ethics and the process of becoming a conscientious objector is truly remarkable. He dramatically portrays the dilemma faced by young American men during the Vietnam era. Overall, this is a well-written narrative that is, in my opinion, a valuable and distinctive addition to the canon of United States war literature.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Opportunity for Healing 7 Feb. 2003
By Richard Henry - Published on
Like the best of stories, this one is intensely personal, and like the best of stories, this one is also universal. Ben Sherman exposes his intense experience as a conscientious objector serving as a frontline medic with a vivid sense of visual and visceral detail. The story is of one young man's brutal immersion into the reality of war, and it is also story of wide reaching significance of human connection and the stunning human cost of war across borders, cultures, and eras.
Every Viet Nam vet has his or her own story; many are left untold, relegated to the bottomless black hole of suppressed war memories. No one could have faulted the author for choosing such a path; bringing memories of war horrors to light is painful. But Sherman offers his story as a gift of grace, an opportunity for healing, and as an imperative to seek other ways to resolve conflict. Paul Ferrini says, "When you have the courage to approach the wall of your fear, it turns into a doorway." Sherman has opened this doorway for himself, and his doorway offers an opening for others. Wars are fought by individuals, but are entered into and supported by our collective identity, by nations. If we are ever to learn a different way of resolving conflict, essential for the human story to continue, then we must have full understanding of the reality of war, not the propagandized unreality we're usually fed. Sherman's book tells a story we all, young and old, need to know. We especially need to know this story together, and "Medic!" provides a powerful vehicle for the most important of intergenerational conversations.
This is not light reading; it is important reading about some of the deepest --both hardest and best -- of human experiences. I was drawn in, engaged, and changed by this book like no other. Sherman's unique perspective as a CO medic is a story we all need to hear.
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars "We're here for each other ..." 1 Aug. 2007
By doc peterson - Published on
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Ben Sherman was a conscientious objector who nonetheless served in Vietnam as a medic. As a combat medic myself, much of what he retells here is spot on. However, parts of the book seemed a bit contrived, hence the 3 stars.

Sherman's courage is beyond reproach - to go into a combat zone unarmed (even as a medic) takes real stones. The fear, apprehension and constant wondering if he was "good enough" to do right by his soldiers was eerily familiar. His anguish and self-blame at those he could not save speaks volumes about his character. The descriptions of Vietnam and of his experiences in (and out) of combat are vivid. However more than once I couldn't help but think that he was retelling sea-stories or dramatizing - particularly in the epilogue where he retells meeting the family of a fallen comrade. While this may have happened, it seems inplausable and feels as if it were written for emotional impact.

Volumes have been written about Vietnam, many of them memoirs from those who served on the ground. While _Medic!_ offers a new perspective (from that of a CO - conscientious objector), it is not among the better of the lot.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fast paced; raw and realistic 25 Jun. 2012
By K. Steckert - Published on
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Ben is a good story writer as the first chapter grabs you in - it did me while in the bookstore.

The book covers a short time period from the time Ben goes to basic training to being stateside, as he is in Vietnam for only a few months; long enough to have a story; clearly long enough to have left an indelible imprint on his life.

I do not understand how one can call him a whiner. I did not see any of this in the book. Rather, that he was fortunate have key people not hold anything against him for being a CO and unarmed. The times of pain and hurt are not directed towards tearing others down but of telling the story, and the times of someone being there for him are a reason he could write the book.

His views of the war itself come out clearly as well as the views of those around him, and not all have the same view, and I do not detect him being judgmental of those who feel differently. In one of the scenes a couple here think is unrealistic with buttshot, Sherman acknowledges he is no different than him at the core even though they have huge differences between them. I thought his transparency in that story was believable and showed someone who can be honest with oneself.

While the meeting at the wall does seems surreal, I wonder why he would have put it there if it were not. Adding meeting a person who touches the same name as he does, adds nothing to the story for me. It is just an unexpected occurrence. If anything seems a bit farfetched it would his survival and rescue in the bush, but I guess I have heard enough war stories that seem unrealistic, yet to have survived at all, I am not so quick to simply dismiss them.

As I mentioned in the beginning, I saw it at the bookstore, read the first chapter (then the second), and decided to buy the book. I definitely thought it was worth the price and the time. It was a book I could not put down.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I love his writing style 30 Sept. 2008
By C. Kelley - Published on
Format:Kindle Edition
I have only read two books, in my twenty five years, from cover to cover. Both took nearly two months to complete, I'd read ten minutes at a time, or more.

I had been browsing through Borders, on Saturday evening, looking for Candy Bombers. They didn't have it. While I was faux browsing, waiting for someone to move, something popped out on the shelf. Medic! I work as an EMT in a small town, very rural, area. That had nothing to do with my interest, I just threw it in there. Members of my family had been in every way, for the past 150 years. Literally. They were killed at Five Points, Virginia, in the Civil War; Sainteny, France; and Cambodia. The last, was a feature of a thirty-years later, letter, that made national news. I'm fond of Military history, battlefield medicine, that laid the path for my career today, in Emergency Medical Services.

I'm a picky reader, and I'm critical of authors, their style either grabs me, or pushes me away. I have hundreds of books that I bought, only to use a paragraph, dozens that pushed me away, two that I enjoyed. Thousands in all, enough to have a library, in my home. I'm an author myself, co-author, I've written hundreds of articles and essays, and publish two books. I'm not great, I just have a really good hobby, and I can type.

Nearly ten hours ago, I sat down to finally read my September copy of JEMS. The Journal of Emergency Medical Services. I wasn't comfortable, I looked around, and laid down JEMS. I picked up Medic!, and now it's quarter to three on a Tuesday morning.

I read Medic!, in just under ten hours. Good book, skilled author. I'm posting it to a friend that is stationed over seas in the morning. Good literature must not sit on a shelf, it should be passed on.
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