I’ve never read any books about the Vietnam War or the experience of men who participated in that War. I recently completed a book about one man’s experience for the U.S. Army Infantry in the Vietnam War: The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien. I’m glad this one was my first because it gave me a personal perspective with which I could identify, as I was among those who could have been drafted when I graduated from college in 1974, having received a draft number of 16 when they had the lottery on December 1, 1969 a few months before I was able to get a student deferment as I was entering college in September 1970. Though I was never drafted because the draft ended in June 1973, when I was relieved from that burden. Like the author, I did not agree with the U.S. involvement in Vietnam, and like the author, I would probably have gone if called, I would have wanted to avoid becoming an outcast from my family who supported the war, because that’s what US citizens should do.
Of course I was scared of the prospect of going to war, while I was privileged to be excluded from the draft until I graduated from college, nonetheless, the possibility was a burden. This book gave me a sense of what it might have been like if I had been drafted.
The author Tim O’Brien is good at showing different perspectives and contradictions of life at war, from the romance of sharing the danger with a group of other men, to the denial of the reality of killing and death, the author covered all of it with an ability to bring it to life for me. I couldn’t easily put the book down, as each war story drew me into the experience.
If you haven’t read another Vietnam War book, or would just like the perspective of one man’s experience with the War. This is a good book to read.