The Conflict that was a War; In Vietnam and at Home by William Shepherd Sr.

The Conflict that was a War; In Vietnam and at Home

Email this review


Nineteen Vietnam veterans share their recollections of in-country time in Vietnam and their re-entrance into American society.

The 19 contributors to the collection met as members of a PTSD therapy group in Modesto, Calif. They open with a preface which neatly and succinctly delineates two of the major themes in the lives of those who fought in Vietnam: guerilla warfare, along with the paranoid mindset it engendered, and the routine hostility veterans encountered upon their return to America, where instead of being greeted as heroes, they were shunned and, in some cases, literally spat on. The majority of the men were infantrymen, and as such, they had a front-row seat for the horrors of combat. Dead bodies were a common sight, as were dismembered limbs. Many were forced to engage in hand-to-hand combat and to kill enemies in close proximity. Hollywood-worthy jungle terrors were in fact very real—poisonous cobras, spiders as a big as a man’s hand, triple-digit temperatures, stifling humidity—and an oppressive stench hung over everything. One man recounts the story of a soldier’s gruesome attack by a tiger. Another tells of a friend who, not wanting to complete another mission, willfully sticks his fingers into a fan in order to receive medical exemption. The sentiments of each veteran bear remarkable similarities. They don’t defend their actions and, while regretful, rarely apologize. They’re incredulous at the treatment they received at home since they did what their country asked of them (the specter of Agent Orange is the notable and frequent exception to their patriotic feelings). Some still seethe and are openly angry, but most are resigned. What’s left unexplored is how helpful the support-group meetings were for the men struggling with PTSD. It’s only natural, with the peculiar and extreme circumstances of Vietnam, that such a group would offer them solace. Perhaps that’s what led them to speak their minds here, as well as to state their final, selfless mission: to encourage this generation of Americans to treat the veterans of Iraq, Afghanistan and all future wars with the respect and honor they deserve.

Open, honest, raw and readable. 

Pub Date: Oct. 6th, 2012
ISBN: 978-1477489420
Page count: 218pp
Publisher: CreateSpace
Program: Kirkus Indie
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1st, 2013


IndieHEIR OF PROMISE by Llewellyn Mark Jones
by Llewellyn Mark Jones
NonfictionHOME TO WAR by Gerald Nicosia
by Gerald Nicosia
by Melinda L. Pash