TWO OF THE MISSING: A Reminiscence of Some Friends in the War by Perry Deane Young
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TWO OF THE MISSING: A Reminiscence of Some Friends in the War

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You may not like these guys at first. Photojournalists Perry Deane Young, his friends Scan (son of Errol) Flynn and Dana Stone who were lost in Cambodia in 1970, and the rest of their gang that hung out in Vietnam during the war are irresponsible, dope-smoking thrill-seekers. They're the spoiled sons of affluent society who don't want to grow up -- die-hard romantics enraptured by the myths of the frontier, by Huck Finn, by Ernest Hemingway, by Ernie Pyle and his tradition of war journalism. Vietnam is ""the ultimate test"" -- an adventure for adventure's sake with free helicopter rides, a combat show with funny pajama costumes and genuine guns and grenades, opium dens. . .kicks. The type was fairly common even in the protest '60's -- and never has it been described with more emotional honesty than in Young's creative hodgepodge of notes, journals, letters, conversations and reminiscences of ""the joy of watching a war."" After the 1968 Tet offensive, the boys (in their twenties then) seem a little less cocky and a little more like existential heroes with Dirty Hands, these draft-aged misfits who are trapped, one way or another, in a stupid, racist, blood-sporting war and grooving -- like Mailer's DJ -- on the danger. For too-handsome Flynn who needs to prove himself a better swashbuckler than his old man, the biggest ""goof"" of all is rapping on a transatlantic line with the homely daughter of LBJ, commander-in-chief. They wanted action and a place at the vortex of history; now the game is over. Flynn and Stone who finally got a little too reckless are dead or in POW camps and Young is left with the taste of sand in his mouth. He's a bit confused, sometimes incoherent, tentatively introspective. A devastating personal statement about the condition of our own hearts and minds and everything we lost in the war.

Pub Date: Feb. 27th, 1974
Publisher: Coward, McCann & Geoghegan