Jay Hoyland

Jay Hoyland is the pen name for physician writer James G. Hall, MD. A retired psychiatrist, he published his memoir of a tour of duty in the Medical Corps of the US Army serving in 1962-63 in South Vietnam; and a novel set in a fictional psychiatric clinic hidden in the Ozarks. He has also written plays, screenplays and two volumes of poetry, as yet unpublished.

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"An officer caring for soldiers in the field distinguishes this Vietnam account, and the fierce war setting will leave history enthusiasts content."

Kirkus Reviews


Pub Date:
Page count: 332pp
This semiautobiographical historical novel tells the story of a medical doctor in 1962 drafted into the Army and assigned to a tour of duty in Vietnam.
When medical intern Jay Hoyland is drafted, he’s deferred so he can finish his internship. Then, after a few months of training, Hoyland, now a captain, is sent to Soc Trang in Vietnam as a flight surgeon, a medic who cares for pilots and flight crews. Doc Hoyland’s 12-month tour is filled with the same troubles that might befall a civilian doctor—e.g., tending to a laceration or running short on both staff and supplies—but there are always reminders that he’s in a war zone: the sound of mortar rounds in the distance and seeing soldiers die, including some of his friends. As the doc counts the days until he returns to the U.S., he becomes increasingly anxious, particularly since the enemy is ramping up its fight against American troops and the Army of the Republic of Vietnam. The author’s novel, though presented as a journal with dated entries, more closely resembles a standard first-person narrative with vivid descriptions of the environment and a good amount of dialogue. This, however, doesn’t diminish the experience for readers; Hoyland’s arrival in Saigon is an indelible fusion of odors, like charcoal smoke and decaying vegetation, while the excess of bugs in the monsoon creates a “thick fog.” The narrative alternates between the journal and correlating historical information, the latter distinguished by bold print. Hoyland (The Palace of Versailles, 2001)—the pen name of James G. Hall, a Vietnam vet—says in his preface that the historical segments can be ignored, but they prove valuable, thoroughly demonstrating the enemy’s mounting strength while generating suspense with the VC’s perspective, making it clear that VC troops are waiting in the jungle for approaching U.S. choppers, including Hoyland’s. The book does have its lighter moments, as when the doc organizes a Christmas party for children at an orphanage and a leprosarium. But the greatest impact here is the disturbing sense of danger for Hoyland when, for example, machine-gun fire hits his chopper and he’s covered in blood and flesh that aren’t his.

An officer caring for soldiers in the field distinguishes this Vietnam account, and the fierce war setting will leave history enthusiasts content.


The Palace of Versailles...centers on the life of psychiatrist Sam Carsten, torn between his commitment to his work and his personal needs. He becomes a nationally known figure when he is appointed to the leadership of a major psychiatric hospital in the Missouri Ozark town of Versailles. His path to this appointment, the nuances of feelings and events in the lives of his friends, family and patients are the substance of this touching and helpful view of human nature.

ISBN: 0-595-16304-1
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