Blogs by Phyllis Zimbler Miller
Recommended Books About the Vietnam Era
5/7/2008 10:07:27 AM
Tim O'Brien's books GOING AFTER CACCIATO and THE THINGS THEY CARRIED are two excellent books about fighting in Vietnam. Read an excerpt from MRS. LIEUTENANT: A SHARON GOLD NOVEL in which Sharon learns about fragging in Vietnam.
Having recommended movies about the Vietnam era, I want to now recommend two books about that era in addition to my just-released book MRS. LIEUTENANT: A SHARON GOLD NOVEL.
One recommended book is Tim O’Brien’s GOING AFTER CACCIATO – a fantastical novel that begins in Vietnam and leads out of the morass of war. There supposedly will be a movie based on this book someday. But don’t wait for the movie if you’re interested in the story.
The second book is O’Brien’s THE THINGS THEY CARRIED – a finalist for both the 1990 Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Critics Circle Award. This is a moving story about what soldiers fighting in Vietnam carried in their pockets.
And I have to admit I haven’t read O’Brien’s memoir IF I DIE IN A COMBAT ZONE. Can anyone who has read it post a comment here about the memoir?
I’d like to share one thing about fighting in Vietnam for those of you who don’t know this – fragging. Here’s an excerpt from MRS. LIEUTENANT that takes place at the Officers Club at Ft. Knox, Kentucky, when Armor Officers Basic class member Geist taunts Sharon Gold’s husband – Second Lieutenant Robert Gold:
Geist's face twists into a sneer. "Good thing it wasn't a fragging. Then you probably would have 'bought it'."
She's drowning but she has to know. "What's a fragging?"
"Hey, guys, little lady here wants to know what a fragging is!" Geist yells up the table.
"Come on, Sharon, let's dance." Robert pulls her to her feet.
Geist takes hold of her other arm. "It's a slang term – officers getting killed by their own men – on purpose."
She collapses back into her chair. "I don’t understand."
Now Robert faces her. "Fragging is when an enlisted man purposely kills his officer – usually by tossing a grenade at him."
"Happens a lot in Vietnam," Geist says.
The bile rises in her throat. She staggers up out of the chair and rushes from the room.
She stumbles out the front door of the club and slams her right foot against the curb. The stabs of pain slow her down.
Robert catches up to her. "Sharon!"
She collapses onto the ground and fights to catch her breath.
"Robert, it's horrible enough to be killed by a heartless enemy. To be killed by your own men – on purpose!"
He crouches beside her. "It doesn't happen that much. Reports are highly exaggerated. Geist should have kept his mouth shut."
"Why do they kill their officers?"
Robert offers her his hand to pull her up. She doesn’t take it.
"The men are drafted. They don't want to fight in a war that makes no sense to them. There's lots of drugs. They hate their officers who risk getting them killed. So they get rid of their officers. The next ones may be better."
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