The fifth installment in Lynch’s Vietnam series continues the story of four friends who entered the war together and have now been forever changed by it.
Though Volume 4, Casualties of War (2013), seemed to have concluded the series, Lynch again takes readers into the minds and souls of Morris, Rudi, Beck and Ivan. Once Rudi was drafted, it was Morris’ idea that the four friends would go to Vietnam together, each in a different branch of the service, and somehow keep an eye on one another. Now Rudi has been killed, and Morris goes home as his body escort. Morris feels guilty for forcing everyone into this, and now he’s trying to discern meaning from their experience of death in a war they never really understood. This volume continues the first-person narratives in the voices of the four friends, even Rudi’s, though now his is a ghostly voice, a questionable contrivance at first but one that ultimately make sense in the overall arc of the story; each of the characters is haunted, and the only meaning they can make is that “You don’t have to believe in the war, to believe in the guys.” If there’s not a tidy conclusion, it’s because the fate of the walking wounded is inscrutable.
A powerful antidote to those who would glorify war. (Historical fiction. 10-14)