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Review of "Father, Solder, Son"

By Remy Benoit

A review of Nathaniel Tripp's "Father, Soldier, Son.".

This is a book about men: a book about war.

This is a book about truth; about confusion; about a world turned upside down; and about, mostly about, betrayal.

Who among us is not aware of the frequency of feelings of betrayal between fathers and sons? Who could have lived anytime during this century and not have witnessed, in one way or another, feelings of betrayal between those who served, and those, and the government, they served?

Who is not aware of the paradox that as the years pass, the son has to learn to be his own father, a father to his children, and then, quite often, to his own father?

What if you took all the above and set them into the verdant surroundings of the Vietnam Conflict and the darkness of Saipan in World War II? What would you find in the tumultuous, bloodied Pacific tides, and in country when the green of the new guy turned into the dark, dark brown of innocence lost.

Father, Soldier, Son by Nathaniel Tripp is not a book to be read lightly. It is a book to read slowly, line by line as you follow the path that flows, meanders, becomes storm tossed churning a green new platoon leader into a leader of men. If you let yourself slip into the deep black muck and mire of the river bottoms; if you let yourself feel the intense heat and rain; if you let yourself see your toes turning black and Doc not having the proper medications to treat them, you can begin to know just a fragment of what Tripp knows.

When you feel the lack of the proper instruments to fight a war: when you feel the confusion of who the enemy is in a place totally foreign to everything you know, then you can begin, just barely begin, to understand the closeness that develops in a platoon that helps to ameliorate the "loneliness which is so much a part of being a man."

When you see no ground being kept, just abandoned with such blood letting; when you feel a child's hunger that tempts him to try napalm as food; when you watch soldiers of a nation you are there to support walk away from you stuck up to your armpits in river muck, you can begin to understand the feelings of betrayal, the deep silences of the unwelcomed home coming. Who would understand? Who would want to know, to really know that like in all wars they are sent, used, "while they still too young to ask questions...."

Ask the questions now.

Read the lines, read in between the lines of how one trained to fight learns the meaning of betrayal, learns to rage furious at his own country while he learns to love the country wherein he fights, becomes able to see its dawns and its people while he learns to become father to himself, his own children, and his own father.

Father, Soldier, Son is a must read, must know, in the field of the literature of Vietnam, in the literature of Manhood; in the relationship between fathers, soldiers and sons, sons and their countries while it is being worked out amidst rubber plantations, World War II mass suicide, Khymer cannibalism, and a blonde French girl swimming in a pool next to night defensive perimeters.

You may order the book here.


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This item is part of historian, author, editor, and educator Remy Benoit's ongoing weblog for Veterans, writers, students, and others who believe in learning from and making history; including thousands of articles and posts and the free writing seminar, Using History for Healing and Writing.

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