I chose this book after reading Things That Can And Cannot Be Said because I wanted to learn more about the Vietnam war, and although this is a fantastically written book, it is not so much a book about the Vietnam war as is it a book about people in warzones.
The writing is phenomenal, reminding me somewhat of Hunter S. Thompson. There is a mania to it, that works perfectly in this context. The confusion, and panic, and pain flow from the pages.
Herr does not explain himself, he throws military terminology and soldier slang at you without explanation and it is up to the reader to keep up. Nothing is hidden or glamorized, we hear the stories of heroism as well and the stories of soldiers gone mad, soldiers carrying prejudices from back home that turn on each other, the way in which the value of life deteriorates when people are surrounded by death.
This is a raw account of how humans behave when hell comes to earth. The sleep deprivation, the drugs, the constant reminders of death all around. Some stay true to their values, some turn to dark humor, and some become the devils themselves.
This isn’t the book I thought I was going to read, but I am very glad I read it. These accounts will stick with me for a long time.
My Rating: 4/5