A former New York Times reporter and columnist, Norman set out in 1984 to track down a small group of his Vietnam buddies. Aside from varying degrees of bitterness, all these former Marines have in common is their survival of a deadly fight at Bridge 28 on the Quang Tri River in April 1968. Norman looks up his comrades one by one: there are reunions of three or four men at a time, culminating in a larger gathering in the spring of 1985. As he finds and meets with each man and his family (if there is one), Norman also recounts the events of that day at the bridge and provides a quasi-oral history of the Vietnam conflict and the resultant effect on the lives of these men. The process is also one of self-discovery and therapy as Norman comes to terms with his own Vietnam experience. Meanwhile, some of the men still suffer the agony of terrible wounds and continue to need medical attention; all struggle with the emotional and psychological conflict associated with the Vietnam vet. One man is slowly going blind from shrapnel embedded in his eyes; another remains hobbled by his wounds and is gradually losing the battle to stay out of the wheelchair. Yet another--on his third marriage--has won (for now) his battle against the bottle and drugs. And a fourth tells war stories over and over until even his friends who shared the experience cannot bear to listen any longer. The vets' troubles in civilian life--and their modest successes--are all, somehow, traceable to their service in that controversial war. An affecting account that avoids the pitfalls of similar books by balancing the personal and the historical--without the usual attendant chest-thumping and revisionist politicizing.