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Nam: The Vietnam War in the Words of the Men and Women Who Fought There

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Numerous people who experienced the Vietnam War firsthand share their stories in this oral history. Men and women, officers and draftees, prowar and antiwar veterans, all give personal accounts of the bloodshed they witnessed, and the horrifying circumstances they survived. Grunts recount losing their friends in combat; doctors remember the patients whose lives they desper Numerous people who experienced the Vietnam War firsthand share their stories in this oral history. Men and women, officers and draftees, prowar and antiwar veterans, all give personal accounts of the bloodshed they witnessed, and the horrifying circumstances they survived. Grunts recount losing their friends in combat; doctors remember the patients whose lives they desperately tried to save; soldiers try to understand how they could become willing participants in the slaughter of innocent civilians; and veterans, back in the US, discuss dealing with nightmares and a life far away from the constant presence of war.


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Numerous people who experienced the Vietnam War firsthand share their stories in this oral history. Men and women, officers and draftees, prowar and antiwar veterans, all give personal accounts of the bloodshed they witnessed, and the horrifying circumstances they survived. Grunts recount losing their friends in combat; doctors remember the patients whose lives they desper Numerous people who experienced the Vietnam War firsthand share their stories in this oral history. Men and women, officers and draftees, prowar and antiwar veterans, all give personal accounts of the bloodshed they witnessed, and the horrifying circumstances they survived. Grunts recount losing their friends in combat; doctors remember the patients whose lives they desperately tried to save; soldiers try to understand how they could become willing participants in the slaughter of innocent civilians; and veterans, back in the US, discuss dealing with nightmares and a life far away from the constant presence of war.

30 review for Nam: The Vietnam War in the Words of the Men and Women Who Fought There

  1. 5 out of 5

    Ben

    A powerful and compulsively readable oral history of NAM (three letters which take on totemic significance), compiled by Baker from interviews he conducted with veterans. In plain-spoken language, with remarkable honesty and candor, they tell their stories: profound, moving, strange, funny, and endlessly disturbing. What strikes one at first is the sheer naivety with which these men and women entered the war: the first statement in the book ends with, “I had no idea what I was getting into,” and A powerful and compulsively readable oral history of NAM (three letters which take on totemic significance), compiled by Baker from interviews he conducted with veterans. In plain-spoken language, with remarkable honesty and candor, they tell their stories: profound, moving, strange, funny, and endlessly disturbing. What strikes one at first is the sheer naivety with which these men and women entered the war: the first statement in the book ends with, “I had no idea what I was getting into,” and those words serve as a harbinger for the horrors to come. In country, these soldiers descended into personal hells in which they discovered the capacity for unfathomable violence towards their fellow humans, atrocities to make the brain bleed. One soldier dons a necklace of severed ears. Another shoots a Vietnamese woman out of boredom. And in the book’s single most devastating section, a solider describes the gang-rape and murder of a Vietnamese girl, followed by the mutilation of her corpse. These are just the tip of the iceberg in an ocean of blood. And yet the depth of insight in many of these statements is startling. Reflecting on the slaughter of fleeing enemy soldiers, one veteran reflects: “You began at that point to understand how genocide takes place.” Another watches from in-country as the first man on the moon utters his famous words and thinks, “Come here and step with me for a day, motherfucker.” Vital voices from the heart of darkness. A significant document of the American Nightmare.

  2. 5 out of 5

    David Turko

    A powerful and intense read. 'Nam' is a book that goes into specific events of Vietnam through the eyes of the veterans who fought in the war. The soldiers tell about their basic training, their time during Vietnam and the aftermath of it all. This book is not for the faint of heart. There were moments where I was reading this where I had to put the book down from how heartbreaking some of the stories were. Several of the interviewees mentioned how it would've been better for them to die in Viet A powerful and intense read. 'Nam' is a book that goes into specific events of Vietnam through the eyes of the veterans who fought in the war. The soldiers tell about their basic training, their time during Vietnam and the aftermath of it all. This book is not for the faint of heart. There were moments where I was reading this where I had to put the book down from how heartbreaking some of the stories were. Several of the interviewees mentioned how it would've been better for them to die in Vietnam than to come back to the U.S. Nam is a book that filled me with many emotions. I was moved, disturbed and captivated by these veteran's stories. One of the best non-fiction books I've read in years.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Dylan Snell

    Personal Response: I enjoyed reading this book. The thing is, I don't know exactly why. Like most books about the war, I claim to like them because my Grandpa was in Vietnam. For this book, I think I liked it because I can now almost feel what the guys over there felt. Being told by actual veterans makes the conflict come to life for me. Another cool thing is that you know that the author didn't take facts from a history book approved by the government, going along with their slick cover up. This Personal Response: I enjoyed reading this book. The thing is, I don't know exactly why. Like most books about the war, I claim to like them because my Grandpa was in Vietnam. For this book, I think I liked it because I can now almost feel what the guys over there felt. Being told by actual veterans makes the conflict come to life for me. Another cool thing is that you know that the author didn't take facts from a history book approved by the government, going along with their slick cover up. This book tells the real story of the living hell they went through, not so much in Vietnam, but back here in the States. Plot Summary: The book doesn’t have a specific order of events. I does however have interviews conducted by the author with Vietnam Veterans. Seven of the veterans interviewed enlisted in the Army or Marine Corps. The other couple veterans were drafted. The soldiers then tell about their basic training experience. Then they get sent overseas to Vietnam. Most of the people say that they were under fire while they are descending on the airplane. All of the veterans say that they go to a briefing immediately after they land. They then get sent to a smaller base camp. One guy says that he got sent to three different bases, the next one each smaller. Everyone said they did pretty much whatever they wanted over there, like smoking weed, hiring prostitutes, or shooting whatever they wanted. In the early part of the war, you had to call on the radio to headquarters to ask for permission to fire. The one soldier said that when they found some VC, they would shoot up their radio so they wouldn't get in trouble. One squad even shot at their own guys to get revenge on a colonel. One special-operations soldier said his squad went and destroyed a village and killed its inhabitants, then the U.S. blamed it on the NVA. The final part of the book is when the soldiers come home. Every veteran interviewed says that people ask them the same thing, “How many people did you kill? How does it feel to kill somebody?” One soldier said that his honorable discharge was a computer print out with his Social Security Number on a piece of cardboard. One guy said that he felt safer in Vietnam than in California. Most of the veterans said that it would’ve been better to die in Vietnam than to come back to the states. Recommendation: I would recommend this book to mature history fanatics and military fanatics in middle school. I say mature middle schoolers because there are parts where masturbation, prostitution, and rape is mentioned. I would also recommend this to high school students because they should learn about the rea Nam, and just not some government approved document. You know, someday there won't be any Vietnam veterans left to tell their story. Case-in-point, read the book.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Zombieslayer⚡Alienhunter

    I found out I was supposed to read this book in September of 2015 so, being me, I just finished it last night. Well, around January I realized I needed to buckle down and get my shit together. Later that month, my great-uncle Milt died. He fought with the Marines in Vietnam in 1969, and I can vividly remember him telling me and my brother and my cousins stories about the war. If it had been anything graphic I'm sure his wife would have smacked him with a wooden spoon, all I remember is him talking a I found out I was supposed to read this book in September of 2015 so, being me, I just finished it last night. Well, around January I realized I needed to buckle down and get my shit together. Later that month, my great-uncle Milt died. He fought with the Marines in Vietnam in 1969, and I can vividly remember him telling me and my brother and my cousins stories about the war. If it had been anything graphic I'm sure his wife would have smacked him with a wooden spoon, all I remember is him talking about the fireworks on the Fourth of July and the sunset over the village, the search dogs he trained. He didn't talk about the VC and he didn't talk about watching his friends, boys hardly older than my brother at the time, fight and die for nothing. He was more like a grandfather to me than my maternal grandfather ever was, I know for damn sure I learned more about just about everything from Milt. After an eight-year battle with Dementia, and losing my great-aunt Sue in September of 2o14, Milt passed away in a VA hospital with his daughter and his dog beside him. I didn't see Milt hardly at all in the final years of his life, by then he had forgotten my and my brother and most of his grandchildrens' names. Part of me will always feel guilty that I saw him maybe five times after he was diagnosed, and not at all in the last two years. There was a huge hole in his mind where me and the other kids used to be, and that upset me so much, not the fact he'd forgotten me but the fact he was forgetting everybody, that I couldn't bear to see him. I called him on his birthday (which also happens to be mine) and he thought I was a nurse in a field hospital somewhere in the jungle. I don't remember talking to him again after that. Reading Mark Baker's Nam was like talking to Milt again, and within thirty pages I was in tears. Not because I missed my uncle, but because I had never, not once, thought about what he had to have gone through during 'Nam. Instead of wasting your time arguing about the war (because guess what? For us, it's over. But for them, it never will be) and fighting each other over trivial bullshit, you need to read Mark Baker's book. Read it and understand that, yes, American soldiers, the GI Joes, the heroes, committed atrocities in Vietnam, but the majority of them never knew what they were doing was so wrong. They wanted to help, to be heroes. What they didn't know was that heroes are just villians speaking another language. Like Mark Baker, I'm anti-war. I believe in conflict resolution without warfare. But even those who stand on my side need to read this book. They need to read it to understand.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Chris Steeden

    The project for the author started in 1972. He shared an apartment with a Vietnam Vet (Brian) and the basis of this book came to fruition. He told the vets he spoke to that he had no intention of forging a political document honed on guilt and condemnation but nor was he interested in glorifying war and the soldiers lot. Just wanted to record what they could remember about the intersection of their lives in Vietnam and the consequences of that experience. The interviews and letters show the differ The project for the author started in 1972. He shared an apartment with a Vietnam Vet (Brian) and the basis of this book came to fruition. He told the vets he spoke to that he had no intention of forging a political document honed on guilt and condemnation but nor was he interested in glorifying war and the soldiers lot. Just wanted to record what they could remember about the intersection of their lives in Vietnam and the consequences of that experience. The interviews and letters show the difference in backgrounds in those enlisted and drafted. The book goes through all the experiences from the training / boot camp, off to Vietnam, fighting, relaxing injuries, escapades, home and normal life. No names are put to the letters / interviews in the book and it is not just soldiers experiences as there is a nurse as well. If you take the text at face value and as the ultimate truth then be prepared. It is graphic, appalling and very very shocking. Here is one quote: 'But in Nam you realized that you had the power to take a life. You had the power to rape a woman and nobody could say anything to you.' It did take me a little time to get into the book because of the fact that it is interviews you finish one and start another so the book does not flow but you do get used to it. Some of the stuff that is detailed is horrific and then these guys have to come home and start leading a normal life. This is not for the faint-hearted

  6. 4 out of 5

    Andy

    If even half of what's related in this book really happened then Nazi war criminals were fingerpainting compared to our boys in Nam. Personally, I don't buy a lot of the stories in here: One soldier's ordered to keep kicking in a dead soldier's head until his brains creep out his ear. A Vietnamese girl is gang-raped by GIs and then mutilated to death. When Marines were bored of shooting at Viet Cong they shot at each other to pass the time. GIs posing for pictures over a dying Vietnamese man's body If even half of what's related in this book really happened then Nazi war criminals were fingerpainting compared to our boys in Nam. Personally, I don't buy a lot of the stories in here: One soldier's ordered to keep kicking in a dead soldier's head until his brains creep out his ear. A Vietnamese girl is gang-raped by GIs and then mutilated to death. When Marines were bored of shooting at Viet Cong they shot at each other to pass the time. GIs posing for pictures over a dying Vietnamese man's body (shades of Guantanamo). Vietnamese tossed out of airborne helicopters after supplying information rather than taken prisoner. Oh, the brutality goes on and on with nary a positive accomplishment from our troops. I sense a couple of Mark Fuhrmans giving Mark Baker a load of sensational war tales to spice up his book. War is hell, but this goes beyond hell.

  7. 4 out of 5

    ✨Bean's Books✨

    I don't really know what to say about this particular book. Please forgive me but I'm still in a bit of shock. These are REAL stories of the war in Vietnam told by REAL people who were there and experienced it. The things that our troops had to endure are just unbelievable. And if their physical situation wasn't bad enough, their mental and emotional states were worse. And then to have gone through all that just to come home unwanted, unloved, unvictorious and even branded as a murderer... just I don't really know what to say about this particular book. Please forgive me but I'm still in a bit of shock. These are REAL stories of the war in Vietnam told by REAL people who were there and experienced it. The things that our troops had to endure are just unbelievable. And if their physical situation wasn't bad enough, their mental and emotional states were worse. And then to have gone through all that just to come home unwanted, unloved, unvictorious and even branded as a murderer... just heart wrenching. These veterans we're (and are) shunned by the very government and country they fought for. Simply unbelievable. As for the book itself, it is very well written and easy to get into. The author did a great job compiling these testimonies. I highly recommend this book to anyone.

  8. 5 out of 5

    David Richardson

    I really like the way this book told it's story. No political correctness or debate about whether the war was right or wrong. People who were there tell their stories plain and simple. Hands down the best Vietnam war book I have read. I really like the way this book told it's story. No political correctness or debate about whether the war was right or wrong. People who were there tell their stories plain and simple. Hands down the best Vietnam war book I have read.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Sarra Moogski

    Possibly one of the best war logs I've ever read. By turns horrifying, moving, disturbing, beautiful and utterly insane. Possibly one of the best war logs I've ever read. By turns horrifying, moving, disturbing, beautiful and utterly insane.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Rebecca

    In this collection of war stories, not truths, the theme of survival, or lack thereof, is striking. One individual recounts that "war is not killing. Killing is the easiest part of the whole thing. Sweating twenty four hours a day, seeing guys drop all around you of heatstroke, not having food, not having water, sleeping only three hours a night for weeks at a time, that's what war is. Survival." The brutal physical and mental test of this war, Nam, is portrayed unlike any other with gripping in In this collection of war stories, not truths, the theme of survival, or lack thereof, is striking. One individual recounts that "war is not killing. Killing is the easiest part of the whole thing. Sweating twenty four hours a day, seeing guys drop all around you of heatstroke, not having food, not having water, sleeping only three hours a night for weeks at a time, that's what war is. Survival." The brutal physical and mental test of this war, Nam, is portrayed unlike any other with gripping intensity and often shame for a serviceman's loss of self and morality, all traded in for the sake of survival. At times, the stories are so disturbing that they are hard to accept as a human experience, and their accuracy can perhaps be questioned, based on the author's admittance that the stories in the book are just that, stories. However, the heartfelt intensity of each account is obvious, and you are led to wonder why someone would exaggerate actual events. Regardless of the content's accuracy, the organization of this book is on point, starting with initiation of those into battle and ending with homecoming. The progression, climax, and letdown, or in other words, the book in its entirety, was most affecting for me. The men and the women of the book are both victors and victims, dead but living, allies but enemies. Their identities are blurred to this day, and with each anecdote that builds upon the last, Baker is able to add a significant piece to the puzzle that answers the question of what really happened in Vietnam and why so many veterans are still suffering to this day.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Hai Le

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. Nam was one of the most intense books on the Vietnam War that I’ve ever read. As the book states - it’s an oral history compiled from various war veterans including a nurse. Some of the details and stories were so harrowing at times that I’ve had to put the book down and begin again a few days later. A justification for some of the vets awful behaviour was that being in this war made them feel like ‘God’. Being in a lawless war zone made them feel like they could do whatever they wanted without an Nam was one of the most intense books on the Vietnam War that I’ve ever read. As the book states - it’s an oral history compiled from various war veterans including a nurse. Some of the details and stories were so harrowing at times that I’ve had to put the book down and begin again a few days later. A justification for some of the vets awful behaviour was that being in this war made them feel like ‘God’. Being in a lawless war zone made them feel like they could do whatever they wanted without any consequences. It really makes you wonder what people will do if we were to live in a lawless society. I particularly enjoyed the nurse’s stories as that’s an angle that’s rarely been told and about the metal breakdown she suffered when she returned to the US. She couldn’t face some of the things she did i.e. withholding medication, deciding on whose life was more important; letting the other patient die and poisoning Vietnamese patients so that they can free up more beds for the US GIs. No nurse in normal circumstances would have to be forced to make those choices and I’m not surprised by her mental breakdown. The final part of the book was really interesting in that the war vets; when returning home thought they were going to be hailed as hero’s. When in fact quite the opposite; getting spit on, sworn at, things thrown at them and just ridiculed in general by the American public. Most of them were unable to get jobs and suffered severe mental health problems, depression and suicide. A lot of them claimed they were literally used and abused by the American government and regret going Vietnam in the first place. Reading this book is part of my research for my next script and I’m glad I got to go into the minds of these war vets; before, during, and after the war. If you want to read a brutally honest account of the Vietnam war from a variety of vets that holds no punches. Then look no further. Highly recommended.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Sally

    “Senseless, needless. All wars are filled with that. But there was more of it in Vietnam. Or maybe, because the whole thing was so senseless, every time something like that happened, it was just another insult.” Some scared newbies got spooked in the night and killed nine of their own, with a tank. A classic example of the futility of yet another war that should never have been. At the other end of the ridiculous scale a guy who has been in the hell that was Nam for two years was thrown out of a “Senseless, needless. All wars are filled with that. But there was more of it in Vietnam. Or maybe, because the whole thing was so senseless, every time something like that happened, it was just another insult.” Some scared newbies got spooked in the night and killed nine of their own, with a tank. A classic example of the futility of yet another war that should never have been. At the other end of the ridiculous scale a guy who has been in the hell that was Nam for two years was thrown out of a casino in Vegas for being underage

  13. 5 out of 5

    Erica Grafton

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. I am still moved by the masterful way these sometimes funny, yet completely horrible, stories are told. The guy who tries to evade death by all means is killed by the stray bullet. The doctor shooting up heroin because of what he is seeing in the OR. The soldier fucking a prostitute who is just laying their smoking a cigarette. The ears. Those god damned ears still haunt when I think of them. Born after this war ended, it was pivotal in my lifelong anti-war stance. I hope to tell stories of othe I am still moved by the masterful way these sometimes funny, yet completely horrible, stories are told. The guy who tries to evade death by all means is killed by the stray bullet. The doctor shooting up heroin because of what he is seeing in the OR. The soldier fucking a prostitute who is just laying their smoking a cigarette. The ears. Those god damned ears still haunt when I think of them. Born after this war ended, it was pivotal in my lifelong anti-war stance. I hope to tell stories of others as well as Mark Baker.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Floyd Williams

    As the title implies, this book is an oral history. It covers all phases of the Vietnam War experience, including induction, basic training, entering the country, combat and its aftermath, and returning home. It is told primarily from the standpoint of the "grunts." It is a tough read but, also, a must read for those who would like to gain a real feeling for what the war must have been like for those who were there. As the title implies, this book is an oral history. It covers all phases of the Vietnam War experience, including induction, basic training, entering the country, combat and its aftermath, and returning home. It is told primarily from the standpoint of the "grunts." It is a tough read but, also, a must read for those who would like to gain a real feeling for what the war must have been like for those who were there.

  15. 4 out of 5

    David

    This book is famazing for me. Actually it is the stories ofhttps://www.goodreads.com/search?utf8...# the soldiers relayed in the novel. Since leaving the Navy and become a priest my views have changed greatly. War solves no problems. Our youth die for no lasting reason. The men who declare war never seem to go or pay any type of price. I will stop my rant. The stories are gross on so many levels. This book is famazing for me. Actually it is the stories ofhttps://www.goodreads.com/search?utf8...# the soldiers relayed in the novel. Since leaving the Navy and become a priest my views have changed greatly. War solves no problems. Our youth die for no lasting reason. The men who declare war never seem to go or pay any type of price. I will stop my rant. The stories are gross on so many levels.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Jody Nicholson

    I didn't know much about the Vietnam War before starting this book and I still have little knowledge of why it happened, but boy do I know about the experiences had by the contributors of this book. What an insight into what went on. How any veteran survived the 'real world' when they came back, I'll never know. I didn't know much about the Vietnam War before starting this book and I still have little knowledge of why it happened, but boy do I know about the experiences had by the contributors of this book. What an insight into what went on. How any veteran survived the 'real world' when they came back, I'll never know.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Kathy

    Was looking for the books I had bought as part of a college course in Vietnam many moons ago and apparently had only kept this one .... I remember how powerful the stories and personal testimonies were. It stayed with me for a long time. Keeping this on the “need to re-read” list.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Sam

    The book was an incredible insight into the Vietnam war, untold stories from different perspectives and angles or how it effected the war was for them - pre, during and post the war . It was my first book on the Vietnam war and was hard to put down

  19. 5 out of 5

    Laural Wallace

    Truly captivating, to read 1st hand accounts right out of the mouth of a NAM vet. From the stories of war to the stories of being home. Made you want to cry, and scream all within the same letter, story after story.

  20. 4 out of 5

    George Bravo

    I was cleaning out my office when I came across a high school paper I wrote on this book. Looks like I enjoyed it.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Dylan Michael

    Fantastic.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Ashley

    such a good book...powerful, emotional, thought provoking,

  23. 5 out of 5

    Hanknooney

    read this is one sitting when i was 17 and was pretty enthralled. mark baker is a bad and overwrought writer but a good interviewer and the stories found here are shocking and moving.

  24. 5 out of 5

    James

    This book IS A LITERARY FRAUD. Just like Clifford Irving's "book" about Howard Hughes. See STOLEN VALOR pp 388-389 In Stolen Valor B.G. Burkett points out: 1. In the introduction Baker wrote: "It must be assumed that included here are... and very likely outright lies" 2. Baker doesn't name his sources so it's impossible to verify most of what he says. 3. Baker described the death of "Johnny Kane. No one named Johnny Kane died in Vietnam, nor did a Lt. Carver or a Marine enlisted man named Browne, a This book IS A LITERARY FRAUD. Just like Clifford Irving's "book" about Howard Hughes. See STOLEN VALOR pp 388-389 In Stolen Valor B.G. Burkett points out: 1. In the introduction Baker wrote: "It must be assumed that included here are... and very likely outright lies" 2. Baker doesn't name his sources so it's impossible to verify most of what he says. 3. Baker described the death of "Johnny Kane. No one named Johnny Kane died in Vietnam, nor did a Lt. Carver or a Marine enlisted man named Browne, as Baker's sources contended. 4. One man said he was transferred to the 2nd marine division in Vietnam. In fact, the 2nd marine division never served in Vietnam. 5. one account described shells that sounded like a train fired from the battleship USS Arizona. The Arizona had been sunk December 7, 1941 and has been at the bottom of Pearl harbor ever since. And a lot more, the whole book is fiction. Most books about Vietnam are, read Stolen Valor for many other examples. The author of this book says it is: "This pioneering oral history of the war" He doesn't say it's a collection of "war stories", he says it's a history. Yet he made no attempt to verify a single story that was told to him. And he doesn't name his sources so no one else can check with the people who made up these stories. Assuming they are even real people and not purely made up. Here is a review of baker's book @ amazon.com by someone who is a critical thinker. http://www.amazon.com/Nam-Mark-Baker/... keith nolan Like author Mark Baker, I'm not a veteran. I have, however, spent the last twenty-five years interviewing Vietnam veterans about their experiences in the war, and have published a number of non-fiction books on the subject. \\\ I'd be curious as to how Mark Baker managed to find such a one-sided collection of veterans. Everyone in NAM seems to have soldiered in a demoralized unit with incompetent or crazed leaders in which drug abuse and atrocities were standard operating procedure. Hmmmmm, very suspicious. It seems that Baker must have thrown out every interview he did with veterans who served proudly in good units, or who saw both the good and bad sides of human nature in the war. How else to explain the unrelentingly negative parade of stories in NAM? Baker somehow managed to find more stories of sadism and murder in the handful of interviews he did than in the thousands I've done. Many of the stories don't even ring true. Either Baker spoke with veterans with a proclivity for exaggeration, or some of the guys he interviewed weren't even veterans to begin with. In sum, NAM is one of the MOST DISHONEST BOOKS ever published about the American combat soldier in Vietnam. The book STOLEN VALOR led Congress to pass the Stolen Valor act, the wiki entry is interesting and leads to many stories of people faking vet status. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stolen_V... Here are some news stories about fake veteran's in Colorado & other places \\\ http://bulletin.aarp.org/states/co/20...

  25. 4 out of 5

    Carina

    I knew very very little about the Vietnam war prior to reading this book - and if I am honest the only knew things I have learnt are some military language. What this book has done is reinforced the little I already knew - the war really polarised people in the States, some atrocities took place (as does happen in wars) and the veterans got really short changed. Are some of these stories fabricated? Possibly - but it doesn't detract from what this book is trying to do - showing the war in the wor I knew very very little about the Vietnam war prior to reading this book - and if I am honest the only knew things I have learnt are some military language. What this book has done is reinforced the little I already knew - the war really polarised people in the States, some atrocities took place (as does happen in wars) and the veterans got really short changed. Are some of these stories fabricated? Possibly - but it doesn't detract from what this book is trying to do - showing the war in the words of those who lived through it. Reading how terrible it was for the vast majority of people and then how appalling these people, who gave their childhood for their country, were treated afterwards is just upsetting. Even in the UK it has filtered through how veterans have to struggle (for me this is down to TV shows portraying it) to survive - it is appalling that normal people have to eke an existence out on the streets but to have these people who are braver than any one of us do the same thing? It's wrong. I would like to learn more about the war itself - I know that it was to do with communism (and this book suggests consumerism as another motive) but I don't really know how the US got involved or why the peace movement reacted so strongly to this particular war (why not the war in Korea? - Note that I know nothing about that war either except the TV show and film M.A.S.H base the story lines around a medical unit in the war). I think reading this first though will provide the more human aspect that is often missing from historical books (though I am basing that off the history books we used during my GCSEs). I like that the author has separated the anecdotes out, and with the exception of the nurse, you cannot really tell which anecdotes 'belong' together. For some of the story tellers you can tell that this must have been a cathartic experience for them, and as much as I found the story's during the war itself interesting it was the tales of how people were signed up and discharged that I found the most intriguing.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Eric Bettencourt

    By far the most intense and unforgettable non-fiction I've ever read. There is some debate that the accounts within aren't real. The reasons behind this charge, from what I gather, is because of the authors reluctance to name the contributors. Though this decision spawned the inevitable gaggle of disbelieving naysayers I doubt the level of candor would have been so rich and stunning. I try not to rely on 'gut feelings' when at all possible but in the absence of any evidence besides the authors w By far the most intense and unforgettable non-fiction I've ever read. There is some debate that the accounts within aren't real. The reasons behind this charge, from what I gather, is because of the authors reluctance to name the contributors. Though this decision spawned the inevitable gaggle of disbelieving naysayers I doubt the level of candor would have been so rich and stunning. I try not to rely on 'gut feelings' when at all possible but in the absence of any evidence besides the authors word I find it remarkably hard to believe these accounts were made up or even much embellished. And in the case that these are nothing more than contrived stories spawned from the imagination of Mark Baker then why isn't he a household name in the world of war fiction? He'd be an International Bestseller. At any rate, around the time of reading NAM I was on a total oral-war-account jag; just absolutely fascinated with humanities endless ability to stretch both physically and mentally far beyond the breaking point and not only survive but to thrive there. NAM also stroked a lifelong curiousness about 'normal peoples' hidden penchant for extreme evil and sadism when caught in the right environment. Pretty it sure was the book that finally quelled my ravenous appetite for graphic war accounts long enough to pick up a different topic; Mental-Disorders. These segued nicely.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Larry McCloskey

    Baker takes an unflinching look at the war that shaped a generation through the eyes of those who lived it. Almost assuredly, there are embellishments, exaggerations and outright lies in the stories told - Baker admits as much right up front and cautions the reader to take the stories with as many grains of salt as they'd like - but the emotion never seems faked. Baker assembles snippets into a pastiche of the war. Instead of short stories from differing perspectives, he assembles a montage of an Baker takes an unflinching look at the war that shaped a generation through the eyes of those who lived it. Almost assuredly, there are embellishments, exaggerations and outright lies in the stories told - Baker admits as much right up front and cautions the reader to take the stories with as many grains of salt as they'd like - but the emotion never seems faked. Baker assembles snippets into a pastiche of the war. Instead of short stories from differing perspectives, he assembles a montage of anecdotes, musings, stories and observation that range from a couple of sentences to a few pages and masterfully arranges them into a tapestry of what life in "the Nam" was like for those who lived it. This book isn't for everyone. There are some raw and visceral tales from men who were thrown to the wolves as young men and told to turn off their humanity for the sake of their own survival. But there are also tales of friendship, compassion and camaraderie. The book, despite its warts, has a heart as well. If even half of the stories in this book are true, then war really is hell. Baker allows you to understand that - and the men and women who lived it - from the safety of your own living room.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Emerald

    Powerful, insightful, gut wrenching. A real look inside the Vietnam Conflict in the words of the men and women of the United States Military personnel who were there.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Gouty

    Writing about World War Z reminded me of this author. Baker went around during the mid 80's and interviewed veterans, and got them to tell him stories about how they got sent to the Vietnam War, what they did there, and what happened after. Each interview/story is between 1-4 pages long. Each story is magnificently unique, they can range from very sad, to hilarious, highlighting the best and worst possible in human nature. When I was at boarding school (not quite at the same time as Tom Brown, bu Writing about World War Z reminded me of this author. Baker went around during the mid 80's and interviewed veterans, and got them to tell him stories about how they got sent to the Vietnam War, what they did there, and what happened after. Each interview/story is between 1-4 pages long. Each story is magnificently unique, they can range from very sad, to hilarious, highlighting the best and worst possible in human nature. When I was at boarding school (not quite at the same time as Tom Brown, but close) every senior year the history and English classes would combine and do what was called the Vietnam Project. We would read the same book in both classes and discuss them respectively from both a historical, and a literary point of view. this was one of the books and it was everyone's favorite.

  30. 5 out of 5

    DMREAnne

    If you have an interest in what the Vietnam War meant to the individuals who fought there, this is a good book for you. Mark Baker wrote this book using firsthand interviews with people who fought in the war. You will feel the emotions of these vets both during and after the war, helping you to better understand the long range affects the war had upon their lives, and why some vets cannot put their lives back together. After reading this book, you will understand why forgetting the horror of war If you have an interest in what the Vietnam War meant to the individuals who fought there, this is a good book for you. Mark Baker wrote this book using firsthand interviews with people who fought in the war. You will feel the emotions of these vets both during and after the war, helping you to better understand the long range affects the war had upon their lives, and why some vets cannot put their lives back together. After reading this book, you will understand why forgetting the horror of war is something that we must never do. As Baker states in his book, “For all the glory words like duty, honor, and valor, war runs best on evil, a breeder reactor that vomits out a hell full of pain for the little spark of sadism people feed into it.”

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