HARD WAY HOME by Dennis Wesley Clark

HARD WAY HOME

KIRKUS REVIEW

Five years after the Vietnam War, the last group of American POWs escapes and tries to make their way home.

The war in Vietnam was a trying one for America–a series of military missteps and public embarrassments. Perhaps no one saw greater injustices than the “ground pounders,” the infantry men who carried out orders through the dangerous countryside of Vietnam. Told that their actions served lofty national goals, the men came to realize that their destiny was controlled by hidden, nefarious agendas. Tim Davis, the hero of Clark’s suspenseful novel, was one of these men, a courageous and honest soldier who began to understand that his skills were being used for ulterior motives and that his life mattered only to a few. Captured in 1969 while on patrol, Tim survived six years as a POW in a small village, one of a handful of Americans scattered across the country. He hears of a Vietnamese directive to purge all living Americans, known as Operation Viper, and organizes an escape plan for the remaining soldiers. But opinions differ on how to flee Vietnam. The newly freed men split into three groups–one will make it to sea and attempt escape by boat; another group will flee for Thailand; and the last, led by Tim, will escape via a calculated walk through Asia to Eastern Europe, a trip that will last 13 years. The groups set off, facing capture, interrogation, deception and even death. Who makes it home, and who falls along the way, make for a gripping read and sets up a fitting–and moving–conclusion. Having served in Vietnam, Clark devises a well-plotted story filled with firsthand observations from the front lines. Like other Vietnam epics, he imbues the novel with a healthy skepticism of authority, aligning with the individual, and demonstrating how the characters are affected by the haze and fog of a dangerous jungle war gone wrong. While some unfamiliar with military jargon might get lost amidst Clark’s insider knowledge, most readers will find their way home in this intriguing novel.

A suspense-filled book that is an excellent contribution to the Vietnam canon.

Pub Date: March 13th, 2008
ISBN: 978-1-4196-8436-4
Program: Kirkus Indie
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