The LBJ Brigade
This is an extraordinary book, and well worth tracking down. You see, the problem with our perceptions of Vietnam is that we've all been infected by the Hollywood version - all that Deer Hunter and Full Platoon Apocalypse stuff - which was constructed only after America was beaten, and was essentially an attempt by a liberal artistic establishment to explain both why the US ever embarked on such an inexcusably imperialist endeavor, and why the world's most expensive fighting machine was so humiliated. Partly because all the movies were made retrospectively, and partly because the defeat was so comprehensive, so overwhelming, it has all come to seem inevitable. Which is why you need to read this novel. Much of it's familiar stuff, but it was written at a time when the possibility of stopping communism dead in its tracks was plausible. And that uncertainty about how the enterprise was going to end changes everything. The story is straightforward. An American kid gets drafted, happily goes to 'Nam to fight for his country and for democracy, finds himself in a deeply hostile environment, and meets in particular both a cynical US veteran and a North Vietnamese ideologue. The former teaches him lessons in survival: 'There ain't no right or wrong out here. Livin is the only thing that counts. We're white men fightin colored men. That makes it a race-war. Forget that un you're dead. This ain't Paris, kid, it's Asia. Ain't nobody on your side cept yourself.'
William Wilson served in a US Air Force Intelligence Unit, was a member if IATSE, and worked as a freelance news cameraman and sound-man for PBS, CBS, NBC, UPI, the Israeli Broadcasting Authority, and other domestic and foreign news agencies. His most recent novels, Bushmen and The Maker, will be published shortly by CSF Publishing. William Wilson is the author of the internationally selling The LBJ Brigade, considered the first anti-Vietnam war novel, originally published in 1966 it is now considered a classic. The LBJ Brigade was re-published by CSF Publishing earlier this year. William lives in Pasadena, California.