RELUCTANT WARRIOR: A True Story of Duty and Heroism in Vietnam by Michael C. Hodgins

RELUCTANT WARRIOR: A True Story of Duty and Heroism in Vietnam

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KIRKUS REVIEW

A dialogue-heavy, techno-talk-filled war memoir by a former Marine lieutenant who led reconnaissance missions in Vietnam in 1970. Hodgins joined the US Marine Corps in 1964. After five years as an enlisted man, he became an officer in 1969, at the height of the American war in Vietnam. Later that year, Hodgins went to Vietnam, where he served as an infantry platoon leader. He then passed up a safe job in the rear and volunteered to become a reconnaissance platoon leader in northern Vietnam. Hodgins's book concentrates on the three-plus months he spent leading dangerous, tension-filled patrols behind enemy lines--a story he tells as if it happened yesterday. The narrative is filled with minute-by-minute reconstructions of what the author experienced, from the mundane to the extraordinary. Possessing something akin to total recall of events that took place 26 years ago, Hodgins spells out in great detail the meals he ate, the beverages he consumed, the conversations he had with his fellow officers and the enlisted men who served under him, the types of weapons he and his men carried, and the weather and terrain conditions they encountered--among myriad other details. Hodgins ""freshened"" his memory of those long-ago events, he says, by studying official Marine Corps documents, ""historical publications,"" letters and diaries written by his former comrades, and ""by personal interviews with some of those men."" The result is a decently written wartime journal that in some parts reads like a novel. Hodgins tells his tale chronologically, sticking to facts and offering little reflection on the sometimes momentous events he took part in. This is occasionally jarring, as in the case where he describes shooting a wounded, unarmed enemy soldier. For Marine Corps action aficionados only.

Pub Date: Feb. 1st, 1997
Page count: 352pp
Publisher: Fawcett/Ballantine