A metaphor-heavy, intelligently crafted memoir focusing on the author's life-altering Vietnam War experiences. Tripp (a writer and film producer) spent a year as a US Army First Infantry Division lieutenant in Vietnam in 196869. Tripp tells his Vietnam story exceptionally well, intimately detailing the physical and emotional landscapes he traversed in the war zone. What he experienced, in the main, was death, brutality, betrayal, and searing emotional trauma. Tripp recreates his psyche-scarring experiences in a bluntly self-critical manner, referring often to his terrors, self-doubts, failures, and emotional crises. He also expresses deep anger—``an anger that was so great that it took years and years to dissipate''—and bitterness about the American war in Vietnam. ``There was nothing heroic here,'' Tripp says, ``we were being pushed by old men with self-serving ideas, pushed to the brink of death just to glorify old men.'' Tripp's account of what happened to him in Vietnam is a noteworthy accomplishment. But his book is more than a war memoir; Tripp weaves in the themes of his life before, during, and after Vietnam. The main theme is Tripp's turbulent relationship with his father, a deeply troubled man who left his family when the author was a baby and with whom Tripp, as an adult, attempted reconciliation. Tripp refers often to his father's WW II experiences, their tempestuous interactions, and their shared love of the sea. Tripp's other themes are manhood, leadership, mental illness, his own experiences of fatherhood, and his love for the outdoors. In a narrative filled with densely packed prose—and, thankfully, without reconstructed dialogue— Tripp tells an amazing story, and tells it creatively, intelligently, and effectively. A cautionary, antiheroic tale of war and manhood.
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