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46 of 47 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Return to Critical Success
I thought Nelson DeMille's first novel, Word of Honor, was a critical success, a thoughtful exploration of a former army officer who is charged with a murder committed during his Viet Nam tour, years after his discharge.
Since DeMille successfully published other novels, I have no doubt Word of Honor was also a commercial success. In my mind, although commercial...
Published on July 3, 2002 by Craig L. Howe

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102 of 114 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars ...A hump down memory trail
For my tastes, Nelson DeMille writes good books and marginal ones. Thanks to "Up Country" arriving in Hong Kong a month or so before its U.S. release date, I've read the book and thought I would offer a few observations to fans and new readers alike.
"Up Country" is billed in the blurb as a military murder mystery that took place 30 years ago in Vietnam. Paul...
Published on January 31, 2002 by Don Ellis


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46 of 47 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Return to Critical Success, July 3, 2002
By 
Craig L. Howe (Darien, CT United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Up Country: A Novel (Hardcover)
I thought Nelson DeMille's first novel, Word of Honor, was a critical success, a thoughtful exploration of a former army officer who is charged with a murder committed during his Viet Nam tour, years after his discharge.
Since DeMille successfully published other novels, I have no doubt Word of Honor was also a commercial success. In my mind, although commercial successes, these other novels, failed critically.
With Up Country, DeMille demonstrates he has not lost his critical touch. He melds his emotionally draining experience of a return trip to Viet Nam in 1997 with his successful commercial formula and produces a great novel. The story is simple. Paul Brenner, retired from the army's Criminal Investigation Division and a Viet Nam vet, is asked to return to Viet Nam and investigate an American army lieutenant's death, who authorities suspect may have been murdered three decades ago.
DeMille's commercial formula remains the same. A strong, independent-minded, wise-cracking male falls in love with a self-assured female and together the overcome intrigue, action and adventure.
Brenner's emotional journey as he unearths his own painful memories of Viet Nam makes the book worth reading and in my mind, vaults it to critical success. As the author concludes, a journey home is never direct, but somewhere along the way, we discover that it is more relevant than the destination and the people we meet along its path will be traveling companions in our minds for the rest of our lives.
DeMille always relates a great story; this one is worth reading carefully.
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90 of 100 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Meaningful Experience, April 17, 2002
By 
Untouchable (Sydney, NSW Australia) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Up Country: A Novel (Hardcover)
It's true, this is not a typical Nelson Demille thriller packed with intrigue, espionage and murder, but it is a fascinating story and obviously a topic that means a great deal to him. Paul Brenner, from The General's Daughter, is back and is called out of retirement to go back to Vietnam to perform a vaguely described mission for his former bosses at CID. As a veteran, Vietnam is the last place in the world he wants to go, however curiosity eventually overcomes his misgivings and he agrees to the mission.
Starting at Saigon, Brenner proceeds to accomplish two missions, one official and the other personal. He makes contact with Susan Weber who is more than she appears. He also relives many moments from the days during the war, exorcising some old demons along the way. From Saigon he heads north, up country, visiting old battlegrounds and lending great insight to us, the reader, into what life was like as an American GI in Vietnam.
I found this book to be a fascinating and informative adventure story. With so much travelling done by Brenner, there is no time for it to become slow and boring. The actual reason for his mission to Vietnam eventually becomes of secondary importance as I got caught up in the country and it's meaning to Brenner. By the end, it really made no difference to me what the final outcome was, I was satisfied by the journey however it turned out.
This book is obviously of special importance to Demille and feels as though it's a kind of homage to Vietnam and the people of both sides who fought there. I thoroughly enjoyed the story, appreciated the humour in which it was told and respect the emotion that it evokes. I fell richer for the experience of having read it.
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102 of 114 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars ...A hump down memory trail, January 31, 2002
By 
This review is from: Up Country: A Novel (Hardcover)
For my tastes, Nelson DeMille writes good books and marginal ones. Thanks to "Up Country" arriving in Hong Kong a month or so before its U.S. release date, I've read the book and thought I would offer a few observations to fans and new readers alike.
"Up Country" is billed in the blurb as a military murder mystery that took place 30 years ago in Vietnam. Paul Brenner, of "General's Daughter" fame, is back, called upon by his old commanding officer to return to Vietnam and investigate the killing of a U.S. lieutenant by his captain during the Tet Offensive.
The reason I say "billed as a murder mystery" is because the action of that plot line takes up only about fifty pages of this 654-page novel. The rest is travelogue, war history and personal reminiscence.
DeMille at his best does description and dialogue well. The fact that Paul Brenner of "Up Country" is indistinguishable in attitude and conversation from John Corey in "The Lion's Game" doesn't detract too much. I like cynical, sarcastic characters, and I suspect that it is DeMille's personality coming through, which makes me like him more. And since the author was in Vietnam at the same time as his protagonist, I'm even more convinced that we're listening to Nelson DeMille strolling down memory lane. That is not necessarily a bad thing if you approach the book from this angle.
What was troublesome for me, having read many of his other books, was turning the pages looking for a little action. Don't hold your breath. It's a travel book - good for those who never served and want to know how it was, or for those who served and never returned but would like to from the comfort of their sofas. But it was a let-down for someone who was there and imagined that when he finally went back it would be by plane rather than by book.
I spent the same time in the same places and saw many of the same paddy fields (they mostly look alike) as Paul Brenner, but rather than experiencing camaraderie with this character, I felt he had taken me hostage for a returning-veterans tour. To paraphrase one of the statements in the book -- Been there. Three times. Done that. Six times - and I hadn't planned on doing it again.
If you'll forget you just read "The Lion's Game" and get in the mood for in-country musings and meanderings, you just may enjoy the trip. After all, the man can still write.
On a nitpicking level, his two main characters are always smiling. They say things followed by: "He smiled." or "She smiled." Smiled, smiled, smiled... but then they're in love, or are they just good enemies? It got a bit old, but that's just personal taste because the author is doing it deliberately. And I noticed that "none" is too often used with a plural verb, as in "None of them are going...."
I like Nelson DeMille and I look forward to his books. And he's certainly allowed to change the pace. But in this case, forwarned would have been forearmed.
So that you can gauge my taste in "DeMilles," I've read "The Charm School" three times, "The Lion's Game" twice, "Word of Honor" twice and enjoyed the "The General's Daughter." Even in a foxhole with nothing else at hand, however, I wouldn't reread "Plum Island" or "Spencerville." "Gold Coast" is somewhere in the middle, now joined by "Up Country."
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19 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars So what if it's a travelogue? Absorbing and unique..., May 1, 2002
This review is from: Up Country: A Novel (Hardcover)
Retired military investigator Paul Brenner is confronted with a trip back to Vietnam in this DeMille mystery and thriller. A letter written by a Vietnamese soldier during the battle of Hue in '68 has been discovered and it details the grisly murder of an American Lieutenant by another American officer. His former boss asks him to go investigate - to see if the author is still alive - and to 'resolve the situation'.
Knowing he hasn't been given all of the details, but smart enough to fill in many of the blanks, Brenner is more than willing to engage in a cathartic trip back to the venues that so dramatically altered his life during his first two tours of duty.
DeMille does a wonderful job describing the modern landscape of Vietnam, where the divide between south and north still exists and the bitter after-effects of war are still tasted on a daily basis. Saigon, Hue, Dien Bin Phu, Hanoi and the countryside are all described in rich detail. Those who criticize this book as a travelogue are missing the point. Where else can one experience - almost firsthand - today's Vietnam viewed through the eyes of a returning veteran?
The details of the story are taut and compelling (even hough I would agree many of the elements are a tad predicatable). It may be a combination mystery and travelogue, but even with its minor shortcomings, DeMille's talents shine through, enlightening, engaging - sometimes startling - and completely absorbing.
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Return to Vietnam, February 5, 2002
This review is from: Up Country: A Novel (Hardcover)
Nelson Demille opens his newest novel, Up Country, with the old saying that "Bad things come in threes." With this latest book, Demille's Paul Brenner returns for a third trip to Vietnam, this time thirty years after his two tours during the war. Investigating the thirty-year-old murder of an Army Lieutenant by a an Army Captain during the Battle of Quang Tri, Brenner not only must deal with the ghosts of his past as an infantryman during the war, but with the present less-than-friendly security police of Hanoi and their Washington counterparts. As I've grown to expect from his previous work, I was laughing out loud by the end of the first page, but there is far more to this story and a good suspense yarn and witty dialogue.

Demille doesn't paint any rosy pictures of Vietnam, now or then. This book -- as well as Word of Honor -- touches on the darkest parts of the human psyche and explores significantly deeper psychological territory than the average suspense thriller. I couldn't put this one down.

I'm a Gulf War veteran, and a writer, so I tend to read a lot of more serious war fiction (two of my favorites are The Things They Carried and Fields of Fire). Word of Honor fits in that tradition more than this novel, but this is still one of the better books I've read this year.

As always, I was unhappy to reach the end.
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Up Country and Lost Soldiers, The Same but Different, February 16, 2002
This review is from: Up Country: A Novel (Hardcover)
Perhaps we are seeing a new genre of books about the Vietnam War. If Nelson Demille's Up Country and James Webb's Lost Soldiers are any indication, a new type of Vietnam book may be the veteran returning to Vietnam to confront all the emotions involved in the war and their experiences. Just as`many of the newer books on the holocaust now deal with the children of survivors, maybe the new Vietnam war books will focus on the returning vet.
Early this year, James Webb, author of the classic Fields of Fire wrote Lost Soldiers. Demille has just released Up Country. In many ways they are the same book. A Vietnam War veteran with unresolved issues and emotions towards the war, returns to Vietnam. In both books the main character return to present Vietnam to solve murders that took place during the war. Well actually Up Country is supposed to take place in 1997 and Lost Soldiers takes place now. And the case can be made that 2001 Vietnam has progressed greatly from 1997. I am not a veteran, I am only 29, but I went to Vietnam in the Summer of 2001 with a groups of New York Teachers.
The main thrust of both books is the same. The main character solves a crime from the past and at the same time comes to grip with the past. I asked Mr. Demille at a recent book signing about the timing of both books, so similar and so close in release time. He told the audience that despite having the same agent as Webb that it was not a planned thing.
So which book is better? Let me stop and say both books are great and should be read. Anyone interested in Vietnam or just a good book should read both. In fact, they should be read one after the other for full effect.
Demille and Webb are both great writers. Webb's recent Emperor's General about General MacArthur was one of the best books i have ever read. Demille: Gold Coast, Word of Honor, Rivers of Babylon, Lion's Game...need I say more? Demille's books are the best. Again, both books are great but Up Country has a better story. It will hook you from beginning to end. However, Lost Soldiers I feel does a better job showing modern day Vietnam and shows a better understanding of the Vietnamese people. I think that is ultimately the difference, Up Country is more exciting but is clearly lighter. Demille shows Vietnam and has Vietnamese characters, Demille himself fought there and returned for a visit. But, his book is an adventure book with some good stuff about modern day Vietnam and a veteran coming to grips with it. Webb's Lost Soldiers is a better book about veterans, modern Vietnam and the Vietnamese people but its story is too simple. Lost Soldier's is a great book about todays Vietnam and the feeling of veterans with an ok story. Think of the summer we had two meteor disaster movies. Armedgeddon was the more fun and less serious movie while Deep Impact was less fun but much more a thinking man's movie. That is Up Country and Lost Soldiers. Up Country is typical Demille, great story, easy to read, with a message. Lost Soldiers is more a message with a story.
Again, both books are great. I am not a veteran so veterans will be able to compare the two much more accurately than I can. Having been to Vietnam, Lost Soldiers reminded me of what I saw more than Up Country did. But ultimately, Up Country was a better read. In short, check out both books. Great books, by great writers. And check out the other books by Webb and Demille.
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Maybe not his best, but still better than the rest, March 4, 2002
By 
Stephen C. Weeks (Pleasanton, CA United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Up Country: A Novel (Hardcover)
Okay, this was not Charm School, or Gold Coast or Plum Island, which I rate as the author's best books. But as usual, I was in heaven reading all 700 pages of this book and was disappointed when it was over. This is, in fact, a far superior read to the General's Daughter. I enjoyed the "travelogue" nature of the book and found myself hungry for more information about the war and Vietnam in general. Colonel Mang is one of DeMille's best villains, a guy you could hate and almost root for at the same time. And I didn't care if the plot was totally believable or the ending completely satisfying. It was all about a great road trip that I found myself happy to be along. The only annoying aspect of the book was the incessant love patter between Paul Brenner and Susan Weber. Just once, I would like to see DeMille write a thriller where the female character doesn't fall in love with the central protaganist 10 seconds after they meet.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Must-Read, May 28, 2008
This review is from: Up Country (Mass Market Paperback)
Up Country is Nelson Demille's suspense thriller set in post-Vietnam. Full of exciting escapes and tense drama, Demille takes the reader on a dangerous adventure through a country teaming with ghosts from previous wars. Superbly researched. Brilliantly paced. A must read for DeMille fans.

Donald Gallinger is the author of The Master Planets
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing Read, March 16, 2002
By 
B. Goldstein "skibrent" (Rockville, Maryland United States) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Up Country: A Novel (Hardcover)
I was 8 years old when the US withdrew from Vietnam in 1975. My knowledge of the Vietnam War has been shaped by movies like Apocolypse Now, Platoon, Hamburger Hill and Full Metal Jacket. No longer. Demille has given me a full education of the Vietnam War from many standpoints - geographical, political, philosophical, emotional, etc. Most importantly, I have received this education in the prose of my favorite author through characters who are likable, intelligent and believable. I have read the complaints about the length of this book. Frankly, this was one of those stories that I didn't want to end and I would have been happy to go another 200 pages. I have read every Demille novel and this easily ranks at the top of the list with Word of Honor and Charm School and puts his weaker novels like Lions Game and Spencerville to shame. My only complaint - the book needs an epilogue. After spending 700 pages with Paul Brenner and Susan Weber, I need to know what happens to them.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Way Up Country, December 23, 2002
By 
James Girard (Boston, MA, USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Up Country (Mass Market Paperback)
I have read many of Nelson DeMilles novels and have enjoyed them immensley for their intrigue, characters and settings. This one was different.
I bought the paperback in Dusseldorf, Germany, to read on the flight home. Over 800 pages...bit of a tome.
I have not read "The General's Daughter", where the central character, Paul Brenner, originated. I didn't need to. Brenner's character is well defined in this book.
I understand why some people might think that the book bogs down in places. When you've been through a DeMille novel, like "Plum Island", or "Lion's Game", you develop a certain expectation for swiftly moving adventure and deft plot twists. A quick read, a great story, and possibly something to think about.
That is not the case with "Up Country". It's a long read, a great story, and a lot to think about.
I think that in this novel DeMille vetted his views on the political, cultural, economic and social impact of the war we fought in Vietnam. The detail of Brenner's trip back to Vietnam,
his insights about the places he'd been, the battles he'd fought, and the battles he's still wondering about, are richly described.
Those descriptions are the meat of this fascinating novel.
DeMille doesn't really need Susan or Colonel Mang to make this story interesting. In a way, they kind of both detract from the realism in his descriptions of Vietnam today.
I was left with food for thought, and not caring so much about the characters. But I like food for thought in a novel. DeMille delivers bigtime in that category in this one.
I was 9 in 1968, but, our war with the North Vietnamese affected me too. I still have my own questions. DeMille answers a lot of them in this book through the eyes of someone who was there.
"Up Country" is quite a ride.
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Up Country
Up Country by Nelson DeMille (Paperback - November 6, 2007)
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