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by Chet Green

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The year was 1975 and Warz had missed the Vietnam War. The first portion of the book takes readers through the streets of Detroit - the recession ending, but the only jobs available were "sweat shop" jobs in the steel foundries and other's he considered dead end. As a native Detroiter, I marveled at the author's knowledge about the city and suburbs...right on as they said in 1975.

Feeling left out of his generation for missing Vietnam, he hoped for another war to start soon so he could redeem himself. Meanwhile, he continued to tell others that he was a Vietnam Veteran and participated in many of the historic battles. The author failed to comment during the story that many people protested against the war and its warriors and letting other's know that he was a Vietnam Vet in that time-frame would have resulted in retaliation of sorts. However, when the wall in Washington DC was dedicated in 1986, the public changed direction and it was now popular to be a Vietnam Vet and participate in parades. Hence, census reports showed upward of 17mm Vietnam Vets in the population when actually only 3.5mm served in-country. Faking service time or awards were soon addressed in the book, Stolen Valor, which brought this to light.

Wanting redemption, Warz flies to Paris and joins the French Foreign Legion. He is accepted into training but washes out on his only opportunity to get a taste of war. Persistent, Warz purchases a camera and then follows the Legion through Africa as a journalist / photographer. En route to Djibouti, Warz befriends a rich Swedish woman who teaches him about Africa and its customs while traveling across the country to her summer home in Ethiopia. After spending the night in her home, Waz continues in his journey on the train, and befriends Cass, a Foreign Legion deserter who is dressed like a Muslim Shiek. Cass is on his way to Djibouti to help a friend desert from his same Legion outfit and convinces Warz to join him in this venture promising a great reward.

The closer Warz and Cass get to Djibouti the more threatening it becomes for the two men. Warz is unable to speak the language, and is thankful that he had somebody with him to guide the way. It soon turns into the wild west and it's everybody for themselves. Warz and Cass soon find themselves robbed and captured by bandits when Somali Warriors attack Djibouti; it's a holy day and the Legion stands down for the day. Warz finally gets the war he'd been seeking and dreaming about, only he finds that it's not romantic and nothing as he envisioned - is this how it all ends? Nobody knows Warz is in Africa...crawling through dirt and mud - his very life at peril. No accolades...no hero's welcome...no fame or fortune! Kill or be killed. The legionnaires are all but wiped out. Can they survive the madness? Great job Mr. Green!

John Podlaski, author
"Cherries - A Vietnam War Novel" and "When Can I Stop Running" ( )
  JPodlaski | Mar 25, 2017 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 159113644X, Paperback)

In recession-racked Detroit in 1975, a counterfeit  war hero with a useless college education and poor job prospects decides to go for broke when his hard luck turns awful.  He runs for classic cover and fulfillment with the Foreign Legion until the legendary force rejects him.  
Unable to go home, anxious for a fitting career, he decides to become a conflict photographer now. Unable to stop pretending what he's not, he assumes the persona of a seasoned "shooter," following a Legion regiment to its posting in the last European colony in Africa. As he crosses Ethiopia, events begin challenging his bigotries.  When he finally reaches Djibouti, an adventure with an African-American swashbuckler backfires into a brutal, racially charged incident, and the false hero's longed-for baptism of fire becomes a penance he will perform the rest of his life.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:04:58 -0400)

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