29 of 29 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Fog of War -- Vietnam Style
Last year saw the publication of a masterpiece of Vietnam War fiction, Matterhorn, which was a searing and existentially bleak example of the battle novel. This year sees the publication of this very different, and only just slightly less impressive Vietnam War novel. At about half the length of Matterhorn, this book falls roughly into the crime genre, as it tells the...
Published on 26 Sept. 2011 by A. Ross
3.0 out of 5 stars a different perspective on the Vietnam war
definitely sheds a different light on the Vietnam war and a particularly gloom one. The book is intriguing at times, sometimes confusing. It takes time to get acquainted to the main character but then somehow it works. A book you can read, not a must read.
Published on 12 Oct. 2012 by Marsipulami
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29 of 29 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Fog of War -- Vietnam Style,
This review is from: Red Flags (Hardcover)
Last year saw the publication of a masterpiece of Vietnam War fiction, Matterhorn, which was a searing and existentially bleak example of the battle novel. This year sees the publication of this very different, and only just slightly less impressive Vietnam War novel. At about half the length of Matterhorn, this book falls roughly into the crime genre, as it tells the tale of an Army CID officer sent undercover to a small base in the Central Highlands kind of near Pleiku. It seems that the North might be financing some of its international arms purchasing through the wholesale drug production and export of heroin and marijuana. "Captain" Rider and his partner are supposed to try and find out where the drugs are coming from and who might be involved.
But as well-plotted as the investigative storyline is, it's really just an excuse for the author (a Vietnam Vet) to vividly lay out the tenuousness of the American position in the country. What really pops to the fore is the complexity of the situation, as Rider tries to understand the relationships between the regular Army, the Green Beret outposts, the local CIA operative, the South Vietnamese Army unit across the road, their corrupt commander (who functions as provincial warlord), the various Montagnard tribes, the Viet Cong, local do-gooder missionaries, a sexy American medic, and more. Readers who aren't well-versed in the history of the Vietnam War will get a great introduction to the true complexity of what was happening on the ground. And if this story is anything to go by, what was happening was tons of corruption, graft, and outright cooperation with the enemy by some of the U.S.'s supposed allies. The story here paints the war as mere background, or rather, opportunity, for the well-positioned to make a lot of money. The actual outcome is never in doubt, and the parallels to present-day adventures in Afghanistan are all-too easily made.
To be sure, this does not aspire to the heights that Matterhorn did, but it's just as strikingly authentic, and just as ultimately depressing in its portrayal of the futility of American efforts. The characters all come completely to life, the dialogue rings true, and the few action scenes are loaded with tension (there's a great section where Rider joins a small group to kidnap an NVA courier deep in the jungle). The one quibble I have with the story is that as things build to a climax at the end, Rider and several other main characters exhibit shocking naivete with regard to the likely effect of their harassment of the story's villain. But even that is eventually sorted out in a fairly satisfying manner. There are certainly hundreds, if not thousands, of novels written about the Vietnam War -- this one belongs in the short list of ones that are well worth your time.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Soldiers and spies in Vietnam,
A brilliant book which I felt must be based more on fact than fiction. An amazing account of the situation in Vietnam with the Vietcong, South Vietnamese, Americans and local Montagnard people and all the corruption and double dealing that took place. I found it absolutely fascinating.
5.0 out of 5 stars Film Anybody?,
An incredibly well written book. Has the basis of a good film. Definitely recommended. Will look out for this author in future.
2.0 out of 5 stars Difficult,
Found this book very slow to get going but persevered and enjoyed it more from about halfway in. The overuse of military terms and jargon didn't help.
5.0 out of 5 stars Just shows why the Americans lost,
Corruption at the highest level of South Vietnamese government . What's worse aided and abetted by the US, so many died for nothing.
5.0 out of 5 stars Gives you a REAL insight into the reasons for the Vietnam War - and other wars,
Very well written, and as I read it, I felt that the writer knows Asian culture and their mindset - as i live in Asia much of the year. It gives you a whole new insight into the reasons for the VN war and others - especially those that the USA has been involved with - they are all about making money, and people's lives are irrelevant. It was only near the end that I realised why it was so realistic - it is a true story. HIGHLY recommended.
4.0 out of 5 stars Sometimes a hard story but worth the read,
There are a couple of times that I wanted to abandon this book but I persevered and I am pleased that I did.
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic read,
I really enjoyed reading this book. I was looking for a hard-edged Vietnam story with a bit more to it than just blood and gore and this delivers.
Set on a base away from the major fighting the book has enough shooting and killing to keep most blood thirsty readers happy, but it also has an intriguing insight into the confused politics of the situation. Although the base is fairly quiet day to day, the area is a busy through-route for North Vietnamese soldiers on their way to the front line, and the US believe the area is being used to grow drugs essential to the North's war finances. The Colonel in charge of the base is caught in an impossible position with barely a ramshackle force at his disposal, his hands tied as his local South Vietnamese allies seem to play both sides for financial gain.
A great mix of action, subterfuge, politics, sacrifice and a love triangle, I'm not sure you could ask for more.
Have already recommended it to my friends and family.
5.0 out of 5 stars Written well and with feeling.,
I wasn't really expecting much more than a thoughtful war novel, but this greatly exceeded my expectations. It's a thoughtfully written description of a tour of duty in a small village camp. There is a story but the book is really about the characters, the politically driven situation they collectively and individually find themselves in, and the country and its peoples. The characters are sympathetically drawn.
The book covered some aspects that I had been ignorant of - in particular the ethnic and cultural groups who were caught up in this period of Vietnam's history, as well as the military factions, and the complicated and in some cases internecine nature of the relations and interactions between them. The greed and opportunism that is so often found taking advantage of conflicts, making the misery suffered by peoples in war zones only the more acute, is also an integral part of the picture.
It's unusual that I like American authors - there is something about the writing style that I just don't get on with, with some notable exceptions. I need not have worried - the language and style is clear, concise, vivid, expressive and never gets in the way of the story. In a book involving US military forces some military jargon is inevitable but is never used for the sake of it and is generally explained or self-explanatory so it is not intrusive. This is a very well written book and is written with an obvious feeling for the place and for the events of that time. The descriptions were such that a number of times I felt as if I was there beside the characters.
A very good book that portrays with realism the complexities of that place and time.
4.0 out of 5 stars Not quite 'Matterhorn',
A very good read and interesting narrative - of an exotic aspect of this conflict - though not near as visceral as Matterhorn.
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Red Flags by Juris Jurjevics (Paperback - 26 Aug. 2012)