THE EXPENDABLES by Leonard B. Scott

THE EXPENDABLES

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KIRKUS REVIEW

 Scott's fourth Vietnam novel (The Hill, 1989, etc.) is reminiscent of an old John Wayne movie, with Barry Sadler's ``Ballad of the Green Berets'' for background. We begin in 1953, seeing the young man who will become the Grizzled Old Sergeant get his first taste of action in Korea. Then we see the early years of the men whose fates will be determined in combat. There are, among others, the Unhappy Rich Kid, out to prove himself; the Angry Black Guy who hates ``the Man''; the Tough Italian Stud from the big city; the Simple Southern Hillbilly whose innate goodness belies his ``white trash'' background; and an Even More Grizzled Old Sergeant--all of whom are thrown into the mix, a mix in which the noncoms are toughened warriors with hearts of gold beneath their gruff exteriors; the officers come in two flavors (naive--West Point; good guys--ex-college jocks); and just about everyone else functions as a Plot Element. The most interesting parts here are the often humorous takes on basic training and Scott's description of some of the final conflict--the classic 35-day battle of the Ia Drang in which 304 Americans died--from the Vietcong viewpoint. But finding out which members of Our Gang survive for the truly maudlin conclusion is about the only motivation that will keep some readers going to the end.

Pub Date: July 1st, 1991
ISBN: 0-345-37171-2
Page count: 448pp
Publisher: Ballantine
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1st, 1991




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