Ketwig was a kid when he went to Vietnam. Late teens. He was there near Dak To and through the Tet Offensive. His book, divided into three sections, is stream of consciousness for the first half. His fear, his anger, come through in long run-on sentences where his emotions pour out onto the page. His second section, his healing year in Thailand before he returned to The World, is less frenetic. As he feels he's safe, his language is less powerful. The return to The World in section three is the weakest and shortest. But what he writes in the first section overrides the weakness of the last section.
Three different books. Each worth reading. Each made me ask tough questions.
- Have we learned nothing about war? We still send out boys, girls, men and women into harm's way, sometimes with little foreknowledge of what they will face.
- Do we not know that you can't expect troops to seize hills under withering fire? In Afghanistan, military intelligence said the ridge tops were heavily fortified.
- Have we not learned from Gallipoli? From Balls Bluff, VA. Normandy. Dak To? Numerous valleys in Afghanistan? We must not, because we keep doing the same thing over and over. Thank you, Einstein. Yes, doing the same thing over and over and hoping for a different outcome is insanity.
Each book ground into my psyche. I hated all three. I couldn't put all three down. I wondered if we'd ever figure it out.An earworm about drove me nuts. Thanks, Country Joe, for these lines: "And it's 1,2,3 what are we fightin for? Don't ask me I don't give a damn, the next stop if Vietnam."
I'll probably get slammed for this post, but I don't give a damn. Slam away.