A debut, memoir-based novel chronicles the experiences of a platoon in the Vietnam War.
Jones served in Vietnam in 1966-67 with the 173rd Airborne. He wasn’t drafted; he enlisted—at age 19—because he thought it was the right thing to do. In this book, he is James Fowlkes (“Prof”), the narrator. Others in his platoon—all nicknames, of course—include Dragline, Arkansas, Vocab, Deetroit, Preacher Will, Pineapple, Nasty, and Hammerhead. Three of them will not make it home alive. So this is mostly a story of real grunts out on patrol, and, in frequent battles, they are one for all and all for one, as the title implies. White guys, black guys, and an Asian guy. Nasty is the one in the platoon that the rest loathe, but they would save even him in a pinch. (One they would not rescue, and that they come close to killing, is Lt. Taylor, who puts them at risk time and again to advance his career; he remains loathsome.) Ultimately, Fowlkes survives, and returns home to Texas to a hero’s welcome. But flash-forward a half-century and he is undergoing treatment for a lung cancer that is trying to kill him. Is it Agent Orange? Will Vietnam finally claim him? Except for short looks at war protestors in San Francisco, this book focuses almost exclusively on Fowlkes’ time in Vietnam and what it is like to be on patrol—filthy, tired, scared—for days at a time. And what it is like to lose guys that a soldier has come to love, the double-edged sword of bonding. At one point, Fowlkes says that he was “covered in blood, none of it mine, but then again, all of it was mine.” The writing is straightforward but a reader comes to like and respect this kid from Texas, now a man. This work could almost be a template for all the books that have come out of the Vietnam War. No new ground is broken, but all the standard ingredients are here. The novel comes with a short glossary of the terms that Fowlkes or any other grunt would and does use.
A vivid war story about a soldier and his comrades that delivers a satisfying read.
Privately published by Strunk of Cornell in 1918 and revised by his student E. B. White in 1959, that "little book" is back again with more White updatings.
Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis (whoops — "A bankrupt expression") a unique guide (which means "without like or equal").
Noted jazz and pop record producer Thiele offers a chatty autobiography. Aided by record-business colleague Golden, Thiele traces his career from his start as a ``pubescent, novice jazz record producer'' in the 1940s through the '50s, when he headed Coral, Dot, and Roulette Records, and the '60s, when he worked for ABC and ran the famous Impulse! jazz label. At Coral, Thiele championed the work of ``hillbilly'' singer Buddy Holly, although the only sessions he produced with Holly were marred by saccharine strings. The producer specialized in more mainstream popsters like the irrepressibly perky Teresa Brewer (who later became his fourth wife) and the bubble-machine muzak-meister Lawrence Welk. At Dot, Thiele was instrumental in recording Jack Kerouac's famous beat- generation ramblings to jazz accompaniment (recordings that Dot's president found ``pornographic''), while also overseeing a steady stream of pop hits. He then moved to the Mafia-controlled Roulette label, where he observed the ``silk-suited, pinky-ringed'' entourage who frequented the label's offices. Incredibly, however, Thiele remembers the famously hard-nosed Morris Levy, who ran the label and was eventually convicted of extortion, as ``one of the kindest, most warm-hearted, and classiest music men I have ever known.'' At ABC/Impulse!, Thiele oversaw the classic recordings of John Coltrane, although he is the first to admit that Coltrane essentially produced his own sessions. Like many producers of the day, Thiele participated in the ownership of publishing rights to some of the songs he recorded; he makes no apology for this practice, which he calls ``entirely appropriate and without any ethical conflicts.'' A pleasant, if not exactly riveting, memoir that will be of most interest to those with a thirst for cocktail-hour stories of the record biz. (25 halftones, not seen)