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The Killing Zone: My Life in the Vietnam War Reissue Edition
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Top Customer Reviews
I humped with Delta on a few occasions in 1969-70 as a fill-in enlisted FO (Recon Sgt) and remember the stories from some of the short-timers about the mythical period of a year previous when the company left the roads and entered the jungle. Fred was part of that transition period.
When my wife first started asking me about Vietnam in the late-80's, I gave her "The Killing Zone" as a primer. I told her after she finished she would have a sufficient background to understand my story. The same situation occurred with my son in the early-90's when he was in college. I now pick up copies whenever I find them in the used bookstores to give to civilians who want to hear "war stories", with the proviso that they read the book first.
As I write this I realize that I am not a proper person to provide a review of this book, since it is like trying to judge a prequel to my own experience. So I will only say that it is a totally honest book. If you are a combat veteran, you will recognize it. If you are a civilian or a non-combat troop, you will come away with a greater appreciation of what the war was like at grunt-eye level.
He doesn't mention it, but he must have kept a journal or diary of some kind, as he writes very specifically about each day.
The book is very simply written and, unlike Phil Caputo's "A Rumor of War", this book is totally unpretentious. The author simply gives you the facts as he experienced them, with little commentary. No geopolitical commentary; no biases tinged by later events. If you want to know what the soldier in the field went through, this is the book.
There are three types of books I usually find: The ones where the author is trying to "blow your mind" with the weirdness of Nam; the ones where the author is writing in defense of his (and the US) actions in Nam, or the one where the author is trying very hard to portray himself as a great heroic warrior.
This slim volume does not fall into the same trap. There are plenty of surreal moments in the book (for few things can create such surreal moments as life in a war zone), and the author does not deny his own bravery under fire. But it is delivered more like a journal, written for the author himself rather than for publication. The result is a very honest, clear, and flowing read that captures the essence of the infantry experience without bogging down in the morass of politics or apology.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This book is a quick read and gives a grunts-eye perspective of the Vietnam war. I've read a number of books about that war and none gave as good a point of view as this one.Published 14 days ago by RichmondVA
Fred Downs has done a great job. Wish I'd read this almost 40 years ago when it came out but I probably wasn't ready. Read morePublished 2 months ago by R. W. Nilsson
I am grateful I had the opportunity to read this book and understand what so many American soldiers went through during the Vietnam war. Read morePublished 2 months ago by PBLawn
In the early 70s, I was a helicopter pilot attached to a squadron operating with the UK Royal Marines. Read morePublished 2 months ago
A good story about a soldier's experiences in 1968 Vietnam war.Published 2 months ago by James H. Arthur
This book captures just how difficult it was for U.S. soldiers in Vietnam. The enemy was everywhere and could appear or disappear easily. Read morePublished 4 months ago by C. Overgaard