Robert Timberg has written a deeply compelling and somewhat tragic account of five men and how Vietnam shaped and molded their respective character. The book moves quickly and is irresistable after a few pages. A real page turner. Of all the characters within the book, John McCain comes out a real live American hero. Olliver North does not fare so well. Had North retired after his Vietnam stint there wouldn't be enough accolades to describe his service. However, ambition makes a fool of those who cater to its excess and North dives in head first without checking the depth of the water below. Some have criticized Timberg's work as "Anti-Reagan". That is not a fair depiction of the work. Reagan comes across as the "Nightgale" in the book's title. The fact that the song was sung simply and without shame should not provide a source of dismay for anyone who studies history. Reagan merely managed his administration differently than others who have occupied that office. The book focuses solely on five men (North, McCain, Poindexter, Webb, and McFarlane), and delivers a moving, emotional, and poignant portrayal of young men and how the smell of gunpowder can stir the soul and change the course of individuals. In the case of John McCain, the prison in which he suffered turned out to be his salvation as a human being. In the case of Oliver North, the battle scars he carried only seemed to reflect his driving passion to succeed. This is a must read for all who value American History and understand why old men should only send young men into battle as a last resort. The fact that we are mired in another "unwinnable" war only makes this work more compelling. This story will be valid until such time as man conquers his conquering urge.