An evenhanded, tasteful, just-the-facts time capsule of one American soldier’s Vietnam experience.



First-time author Burchik recounts his 1968-1969 tour of duty during the Vietnam War—service he documented exhaustively with his photography talents.

Many Vietnam War books, particularly memoirs, can be bitterly agenda-driven, determined to take an edgy political position while offering emotional catharsis of the Born on the Fourth of July (1976) kind. Veteran-turned-author Burchik’s plainly told ’Nam flashback is a breath of fresh air (as opposed to “the smell of Napalm in the morning”). Only in the epilogue do readers get an understanding of how this narrative came to be: Burchik, an avid photographer, made thousands of images on black-and-white and color film during his 12-month tour of duty, material he only recently finessed into slide-show presentations. The book’s easy-flowing, natural structure came out of his penning detailed, chronological captions for what his impassive lens captured, complemented by the regular letters he wrote home to his future wife. The book, though illustrated with Burchik’s snaps, is not a picture album but rather a solid record of the New Yorker’s volunteering for the military (growing up in a milieu of Catholic Eastern European refugees, he was strictly anti-Communist) and arriving in Vietnam in the summer of 1968 to find U.S. forces embroiled in a frustrating war of attrition. No ground was gained as Viet Cong and Americans nibbled away at each other in furtive ambushes and mortar attacks. The corruption of South Vietnamese forces led to regular looting of the villages they were supposed to be protecting, turning the countryside’s sympathies to the enemy. Meanwhile, the American public’s support was flagging (the author welcomed Nixon’s election, feeling that Tricky Dick had a plan). Burchik writes warmly of the Vietnamese people although sparingly about their history that led to this war. The most action Burchik saw seems to have come in the early months of 1969, as a VC-inflicted injury on the platoon leader got the author promoted to acting sergeant; his biggest kill was dropping an angry water buffalo. Although complimented by a superior and offered, in desultory fashion, a chance to “re-up” and become a career officer, Burchik was glad to get out of Vietnam on schedule, feeling as though it was only through luck that his 12 months in country ended without injury. Some readers may wish for the Sturm und Drang that other war memoirs have made of death and battle, while others might appreciate the unfiltered, reasoned point of view of a humble foot soldier in an unpopular conflict.

An evenhanded, tasteful, just-the-facts time capsule of one American soldier’s Vietnam experience.

Pub Date: Nov. 7, 2014

ISBN: 978-0692276297

Page Count: 286

Publisher: Sharlin-K Press

Review Posted Online: Feb. 18, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2015

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This is not the Nutcracker sweet, as passed on by Tchaikovsky and Marius Petipa. No, this is the original Hoffmann tale of 1816, in which the froth of Christmas revelry occasionally parts to let the dark underside of childhood fantasies and fears peek through. The boundaries between dream and reality fade, just as Godfather Drosselmeier, the Nutcracker's creator, is seen as alternately sinister and jolly. And Italian artist Roberto Innocenti gives an errily realistic air to Marie's dreams, in richly detailed illustrations touched by a mysterious light. A beautiful version of this classic tale, which will captivate adults and children alike. (Nutcracker; $35.00; Oct. 28, 1996; 136 pp.; 0-15-100227-4)

Pub Date: Oct. 28, 1996

ISBN: 0-15-100227-4

Page Count: 136

Publisher: Harcourt

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 1996

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An extravaganza in Bemelmans' inimitable vein, but written almost dead pan, with sly, amusing, sometimes biting undertones, breaking through. For Bemelmans was "the man who came to cocktails". And his hostess was Lady Mendl (Elsie de Wolfe), arbiter of American decorating taste over a generation. Lady Mendl was an incredible person,- self-made in proper American tradition on the one hand, for she had been haunted by the poverty of her childhood, and the years of struggle up from its ugliness,- until she became synonymous with the exotic, exquisite, worshipper at beauty's whrine. Bemelmans draws a portrait in extremes, through apt descriptions, through hilarious anecdote, through surprisingly sympathetic and understanding bits of appreciation. The scene shifts from Hollywood to the home she loved the best in Versailles. One meets in passing a vast roster of famous figures of the international and artistic set. And always one feels Bemelmans, slightly offstage, observing, recording, commenting, illustrated.

Pub Date: Feb. 23, 1955

ISBN: 0670717797

Page Count: -

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: Oct. 25, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1955

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