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Prelude to Reveille: A Vietnam Awakening [Kindle Edition]

S.D. Sawyer
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (61 customer reviews)

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  • Length: 398 pages
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Book Description

Have we made things right with our Vietnam Veterans? It's been almost one-half century since American involvement in this unpopular war, but after reading Prelude to Reveille: A Vietnam Awakening, readers understand why author S.D.Sawyer has written this novel and asked this question.

Inspired by real-life experiences of the author and her husband, this historical fiction mines the personal histories of protagonist Tom Barrington and other soldiers during this turbulent period. Tom arrived at his first assignment, The Old Guard, in Arlington, VA, in December, 1967. Months later he was ordered to Ranger School, and finally deployed to Vietnam. His young wife, Meg, juggled her career as a new teacher while adapting to regulations required of an Army wife, before entering the foreboding world of the Waiting Wife.

Wounded half-way through his tour, Tom went from combat on a jungle trail to surgery in Japan, to enrollment at a small college back home. Anti-war demonstrations and protests cordoned off returning veterans from what should have been safe soil. Ignored by institutions and support networks that had offered care to returning soldiers in past decades, these veterans could never have prepared for a peacetime home front that would prove as perilous and haunting as the theater of war they had faced in Southeast Asia.

Sawyer presents a hard contrast between the repeatedly tested valor of such noble heroes, and the chilling response to them from this once-proud country. Prelude to Reveille: A Vietnam Awakening possesses a sense of time and place that foreshadows issues still facing military families. Its tone and details make it resonate with those who lived during this era as well as future generations who will only learn of these conflicts from a history book.

Bravery and commitment to America are not limited to times of triumph and national celebration, but remain steadfast and true in the face of protracted engagement, ambiguous mission and uncertain outcome. In this tribute to our soldiers, S.D. Sawyer invokes a call for the America of today to awaken to what Vietnam War era soldiers have lived through, and realize—many still need to be welcomed back home.

Editorial Reviews


From  Books in Review II
Vietnam Veterans of America
National on-line Magazine

"I highly recommend this novel, both as a good read and as a glimpse into the lives of tormented souls, good souls who struggle to get through a tormented time and stay strong . . .
I'd forgotten what life in the 1960s was like; this book lays it out and nails it down.
Part of the butcher's bill of war is the death of relationships. Sawyer demonstrates that sad fact well in this solid novel of awakening and self-discovery." -David Willson, Books Reviewer

From Military Writers Society of America
". . . an emotionally charged book about a young married couple struggling with the Army, the Vietnam War, and return (of) a wounded veteran.
 The characters are fictitious, but it's obvious  the author has walked the walk . . .  
Vets and spouses alike will relate well to this book."   -Rob Ballister,  reviewer Military Writers Society of America, author

From the Inside Flap

"Oh God!" Tom choked, "oh God . . .  God . . ." softer each time than the last. Sitting on the soggy carpet, twisted among wet blankets and sheets, he stared blankly at the box springs under the mattress, shaking his head no
"What?" Meg asked, standing in her nightgown and bare feet at the bedroom doorway. "You're home now. It's OK, Tom. You're OK." 
He continued shaking his head from side to side.  "No . . . no more. Can't do this anymore."  Emphasizing each word, his hand limply hit the floor. 
"What?  What can't you do?" 
"Keep . . . going . . . back. I can't get out of there." He looked over at Meg. "Now things that didn't even happen, didn't happen to me . . . are happening. I didn't know Smiley when he got hit. I wasn't there." Tom paused for a minute. 
Meg couldn't think of a reply--  just stared and listened. 
"But tonight I held Smiley, waiting for the dust-off. And the medics weren't-- they weren't . . ." He looked into her eyes. Even through the darkness of the room, Meg saw he was lost. 
As usual, she tossed him towels so he could dry off from the cold water she'd splashed to wake him. He picked up one and wiped off his forehead.  Instinctively, he draped it around his neck, just like he did sweat towels when running trails in Vietnam. 
"Tom?"  Meg whispered. "Tom?" 
Hearing nothing, he remained on the floor, staring into the metal coils of the box springs, wet towels strewn about him.        

Product Details

  • File Size: 587 KB
  • Print Length: 398 pages
  • Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform; 1 edition (February 8, 2013)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B0067TTRUM
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #715,037 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
4.7 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
23 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Special Point of View January 11, 2012
Reading "Prelude to Reveille: Vietnam Awakening" by S. D. Sawyer was an extraordinary experience. I have read a great many histories and memoirs of the Vietnam War. This one is quite different in that its principal point of view is that of what are called in the military dependents. Additionally, the fictional depiction of the combat scenes are as good as any I have read. Perhaps the best part of the book is the story of the main character's recuperation in army hospitals. The way the personalities of the several men in the ward are described is better than Hemingway's in "A Farewell to Arms." As to the ending, those of us who were young in the early 1970s can best judge it.
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23 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Doesn't get any better than this ! ! ! October 27, 2011
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
There have been a lot of books written about the Viet Nam War. None like this. This is an incredible account of a young family faced with a husband being deployed to Viet Nam and the impact that journey has on not only him, but equally important his wife, family and friends. No one could accurately relate such a tale unless they have "walked the walk". In this case it's clear that the Author has done just that. The back cover of Prelude to Reveille: A Viet Nam Awakening states "She (the author) recounts events and feelings she, her husband, family, and friends faced in this her first novel". No one else could have the insight and understanding of the conflict and the feelings it generated than those who fought that nasty conflict and those who were left behind. Those "left behind" are a big part of this story. Their separation was far more than geographic miles. The reader will come to appreciate the true emotional impact that conflict had and in many cases continues to have on those who fought and died there and their families. Anyone interested in what combat in Viet Nam was really like or the burden carried by loved ones for decades after the soldiers return will find this book gripping. The subject matter is timeless and is as relevant today for those families impacted by the Middle Eastern wars as it was in Viet Nam. Highly Recommended. A Home Run for S.D.Sawyers first time at bat ! ! !
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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An informative retrospective. October 19, 2011
There is a wealth of realism in this novel. Specific details about the locales, the organizations, the characters and the incidents are accurate; only the names of the individuals have been changed to protect both guilty and innocent. I was there, I experienced some of the events, pride and frustration, and I came to some of the same conclusions that the author did.
Because this story is written from the point of view of a loving wife, the observations and analysis are more poignant than normal in a war story. For anyone interested in the double-edged effects the Vietnam war had on soldiers and their loved ones, this novel is essential reading.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An unmatched and outstanding read! November 9, 2011
Wonderfully written and thoughtfully portrayed. As a military wife, I was amazed that the tradition, experiences and anxieties of being married to a member of the military spans generations. The story is as relevant today as it was 40 years ago. It doesn't matter what war we are fighting, what sacrifice we are asked to make, there is universality in the journey we all take.

This is a rare prospective from a military wife thrown into an unfamiliar life and culture while dealing with the struggles of a young family and a husband deployed to a war zone. The book also illustrates exceptional insight into the Vietnam era and military experiences that mold a man as a husband, father and soldier.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Great Read! January 4, 2012
This book is a well-written account of how difficult life was for military families. The book is interesting, entertaining, thought provoking, and at times humorous.The subject matter of life in a military family while the soldier is at war is as timeless and relevant today as it was during the Vietnam War. For those who haven't had to live this life, it is very informative. The reader is also reminded that life is forever changed after experiencing this. Everyone involved is different.
Highly recommended.
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12 of 15 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Been there, too. June 25, 2012
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Although I thought the story was a good read and addressed issues that were pertinent to the era, I thought it ended way too soon. I was just really getting into it when it ended.. One thing in particular that bothered me was that the reader (if they did not live through this time, themselves) might have been led to believe that the draft began with the lottery, which was not true. The draft escalated with the 1968 Tet Offensive and the wives of those drafted actually had it far worse than the wives of officers or "lifers." The financial "allotment" they received from the army was $30 a week for a wife with one child and even in the late 60's, this was not enough to live on and barely enough to act as a supplemental income for those wives who were on their own with no family to help them. Most had to go to work, even with infants to care for. Not having the country's support, the worry that their husbands might not make it home, the financial burden and lack of nearby military posts, made the experience for these young wives equally as devastating as having gone to war themselves. They "kept the home fires burning" but never received any recognition for their efforts. Not only did the protesters shun them but so did their governemnt who took their husbands but did not offer much support (financial or otherwise) for the young families left behind.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Published 2 months ago by susan
5.0 out of 5 stars A Family view of the Vietnam war
Thank you Ms. Sawyer for your book. As a child of a Vietnam vet, I can relate to much of what you wrote about. Read more
Published 6 months ago by JEBoone
5.0 out of 5 stars S. D. Sawyer captured the truth of the ...
S.D. Sawyer captured the truth of the times in Prelude to Reveille. As a Vietnam Veteran my experience was different however, I could feel the truth in her writing. Read more
Published 7 months ago by Paul B. Gochnour
4.0 out of 5 stars thank you
A very touching and eye opening story for me. As a child born during the war I learned from this story the views and politics that I was not quite as aware of until now.
Published 8 months ago by Leanne
4.0 out of 5 stars Good Viet-Nam/60's America book
I liked this book! Mr. Sawyer captures the depth of Soldiers devotion to their comrades in face of the adversities of a War that was being orchestrated by civilians in Washington... Read more
Published 9 months ago by Froggythegremlin
3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting and scarry
My husband also served in Vietnam in 1968-1969 time frame. He was shocked at the way people greeted them upon return to the U.S. Read more
Published 12 months ago by kay
5.0 out of 5 stars This book is awesome and I highly recommend it!
This book is awesome! It has been a long time, if ever, since I have read anything that has elicited such emotion. It is very well written and I could not put it down. Read more
Published 12 months ago by JOSHUA HIMAN
5.0 out of 5 stars Story of Love and Understanding
During Vietnam the returning soldiers were not honored and many suffered from what we now call PTSD. This is a story of survival of a young family. Read more
Published 13 months ago by Chyleen Slone
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Read
heart breaking what returning vets went thru and how they were treated. Hope a lesson learned for future treatment of our military
Published 13 months ago by Peggy Roles
5.0 out of 5 stars It'll Touch Your Heart As It Did Mine. This is a book that everyone...
As soon as I saw this novel, I downloaded it. I never sat and read the reviews in depth like I normally do. This topic is something that touches my heart in so many ways. Read more
Published 15 months ago by M Feathers
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More About the Author

S.D. Sawyer is the Pen Name for Sarah Catharine (Dress) Sawyer. Born in Hagerstown, Md. , she grew up in Towson, Md, Medford Lakes, NJ, and Vienna, Va. Sally, as her friends know her, is a retired English teacher-poet whose poetry has been published in national literary magazines. Prelude to Reveille: A Vietnam Awakening, her first novel, is based on her and her husband's true life experiences from 1967-1970. Married to Richard Sawyer for 44 years, they are the parents of three adult children and have four grandsons. She and her husband enjoy life on their farm in Adams County, Pennsylvania, vacations on the Jersey beaches with the kids and grandkids, and trips across the pond to England.

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