From Publishers Weekly
The timeless truths of war--the slaughter of civilians, atrocities condoned, legions of refugees--are related with near-documentary realism in this powerful novel of the Korean War. Told in the form of a journal kept by Rafe Buenrostro, a Mexican-American soldier from Texas, it also portrays the social dynamics of this particular conflict. Through his protagonist's voice, Hinojosa ( Rites and Witnesses ; Partners in Crime ) draws on his own experience in Korea to reveal the racism that Mexican-Americans faced from fellow soldiers. Buenrostro's tense, fragmentary diary entries expose combat's seamy underside: black troops kept in segregated units (though they would later fight alongside whites); thousands of Korean civilians shot to death in unacknowledged barbarism; Marines massacred after being issued old, inaccurate survey maps; napalm and fragmentation bombs giving an eerie foretaste of Vietnam. As the corpses pile up, those left standing begin to fear they will go crazy: one lieutenant does snap, committing suicide. Though his diary entries preclude developing a plot in the conventional sense, Hinojosa gives us a graphic picture of the unchanging face of war--raw, gritty and inhumane.
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc.
"American literature abounds with war novels, but few are so tersely horrific as The Useless Servant." -- Chicago Tribune