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Close Quarters by Larry Heinemann
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Close Quarters

by Larry Heinemann

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This is not a book for the faint-hearted. If you don't like graphic violence, the f-word, and ethnic slurs, lots of brutal and mind-numbing sex, you should leave right now. Categorized as a novel, I suspect many of the incidents in this book reflected Heinemann's personal experiences in "the Nam." This book brings new meaning to the "pornography of violence." One feels almost like voyeur, feeling slightly dirty while reading.

There is one scene that I think particularly illustrates the frustrations of the troops. The protagonist has been assigned to a half-track and one job was to patrol up and down ambush and mine laden highways. After one ambush, the pull off the road, back up, and call in an airstrike. Two Phantoms, one strafing, the other napalming, obliterate the enemy's position. After the strike, they pull 14 charred remnants of the enemy. One of the men goes berserk, smashing one of the dead enemy with the butt of his rifle, over and over again. The lieutenant, walks to the front of the "track" so he can honestly report he saw nothing. The soldier continues to vent his rage until the dead soldier has been smashed to a pulp. They leave the bodies lined up [b:on the road|6288|The Road|Cormac McCarthy|http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/21E8H3D1JSL._SL75_.jpg|3355573]. When they return the following day, they are all gone.

I've been reading this in concert (perhaps a poor choice of words) with [b:Word of Honor|33809|Word of Honor|Nelson DeMille|http://photo.goodreads.com/books/1168465638s/33809.jpg|3217470], [b:The Cat from Hue A Vietnam War, Story|444084|The Cat from Hue A Vietnam War Story|John Laurence|http://photo.goodreads.com/books/1174835735s/444084.jpg|432850], and [b:Black Virgin Mountain A Return to Vietnam|417337|Black Virgin Mountain A Return to Vietnam|Larry Heinemann|http://photo.goodreads.com/books/1174569068s/417337.jpg|406492]. I've read a lot of Vietnam books, but these four together provide a whole that I find startling in its tragedy.

Additional pertinent title: [b:And a Hard Rain Fell A GI's True Story of the War in Vietnam|916|And a Hard Rain Fell A GI's True Story of the War in Vietnam|John Ketwig|http://photo.goodreads.com/books/1157748749s/916.jpg|5137] ( )
  ecw0647 | Sep 30, 2013 |
A grim novel about serving in Vietnam as US soldier. While this is fiction, it frequently reads like a memoir which should not be surprising for Heinemann did serve in Vietnam as a front line grunt. The last chapter carries the protagonist's experiences on to the home scene where he has to face his demons when he gets home. Very realistic and sensitive while also being critical of America's war policy in Vietnam. This is a good companion to Heinemann's memoir of Vietnam entitled Black Virgin Mountain. ( )
  lamour | Jul 31, 2011 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0140085785, Paperback)

From the moment his first novel was published, Larry Heinemann joined the ranks of the great chroniclers of the Vietnam conflict--Philip Caputo, Tim O’Brien, and Gustav Hasford.

In the stripped-down, unsullied patois of an ordinary soldier, draftee Philip Dosier tells the story of his war. Straight from high school, too young to vote or buy himself a drink, he enters a world of mud and heat, blood and body counts, ambushes and firefights. It is here that he embarks on the brutal downward path to wisdom that awaits every soldier. In the tradition of Naked and the Dead and The Thin Red Line, Close Quarters is the harrowing story of how a decent kid from Chicago endures an extraordinary trial-- and returns profoundly altered to a world on the threshold of change.


From the Trade Paperback edition.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:53:23 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

Field soldier Philip Dosier takes a rough, but poetic look at his black year in Vietnam as an APC driver with an Army armored cavalry unit in and around Tay Ninh City in 1967. A period of R&R in Japan is described in detail and the novel follows Dosier home to his family and friends where he learns of his best friend's death in Vietnam.… (more)

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