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In Pharaoh's army : memories of the…

In Pharaoh's army : memories of the lost war (edition 1994)

by Tobias Wolff

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Title:In Pharaoh's army : memories of the lost war
Authors:Tobias Wolff
Info:New York : Vintage Books, 1995, c1994.
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In Pharaoh's Army: Memories of the Lost War by Tobias Wolff


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As a child, I sometimes watched the news, at least when passing the old television with the big antenna atop the house which picked up two stations--the NBC and CBS affiliates. Almost every night, at least from the age I remembered anything I saw, we heard news stories from some strange place with jungles where a lot of Americans engaged in war. The place, of course, was Vietnam. Tobias Wolff provides a first-hand look at his experience as an officer both before and during his being stationed there. The majority deals with time spent in the My Tho region. I enjoyed his sincere narrative which showed his development as an individual and as a soldier. He offers keen observations on both the Vietnamese and American forces. i want to read more of Wolff's work in the future. ( )
  thornton37814 | Mar 20, 2018 |
Having read some of Wolff's other work, namely Old School and his childhood memoir This Boy's Life, I was eager to delve into the author's experiences with the proverbial "lost war" of Vietnam. With the same terse and declarative prose of This Boy's Life, Wolff deftly captures the elusive and, oftentimes, discrete sensations of war. For fan's of Wolff, this memoir will not disappoint.

In Pharaoh's Army recounts the author's year long tour in Vietnam, where as a Lieutenant in the Special Forces, he is ultimately assigned the privileged and comparatively "lucky" position of adviser to a South Vietnamese Army battalion stationed in the Delta region of My Tho. His memoir is broken up into 13 discrete chapters, each functioning as a stand alone short story. Although all stories relate directly Vietnam and the experiences that led him to enlistment, there is no clear linear narrative in this work. I think this narrative structure succeeds in underscoring the seemingly arbitrary and hazy nature of war itself and overall strengthens the tenor of this work. In Pharaoh's Army lacks the grittiness found in a Tim O'Brien novel. Instead, writes in a low key minimalist style with an economy of prose that is reminiscent of Hemingway (which is not surprising considering that Wolff admired all author's who served, especially Hemingway).

At the onset, Wolff was an idealistic recruit, one with a novel in his head. With his deployment orders in hand, he states, "The life around me began at last to take on form, to signify. No longer a powerless confusion of desires, I was now a protagonist, the hero of a novel to which I endlessly added from the stories I dreamed and saw everywhere." However, In Pharaoh's Army ultimately chronicles the author's growing disillusionment with the American presence in Vietnam. The title itself alludes to the absurd and doomed blind charge of the Pharaoh's chariots into the Red Sea. Though disillusioned, this year of combat nevertheless allowed to author to come into his own and find his true character. In his own words, he "Lost Faith. Prayed anyway. Persisted...That's how we found out who we are". ( )
  Casey_Marie | May 4, 2015 |
A beautifully written, carefully imagined, and deeply moral memoir of an ugly, sloppy, and amoral experience. ( )
  poingu | Jan 29, 2015 |
An incredibly honest look of a mans participation in Vietnam and his life before and after his service. While there isnt much focus on descriptions of combat, the authors haunting flow of honest writing makes up for it. He examines the human struggle involved cadidly, the good and the bad. The flux of emotions and the changing of how one views others during combat. Superb but short book. ( )
  Luftwaffe_Flak | Feb 6, 2014 |
I really enjoyed reading this book with all the insides Tobias Wolff was brave enough to share. It was well written, his views and reflection of his time in Vietnam really made me think. I would recommend reading this book. ( )
  arning | Dec 23, 2013 |
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0679760237, Paperback)

In This Boy's Life Tobias Wolf created an unforgettable memoir of an American childhood. Now he gives us a precisely and sometimes pitilessly remembered account of his young manhood - a young manhood that become entangled in the tragic adventure that was Vietnam. Mordantly funny, searingly honest, In Pharoah's Army is a war memoir in the tradition of George Orwell and Michael Herr.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:20:49 -0400)

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