Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Vietnam Redux: For Some the Vietnam War Never Ended

Cohen, H. (2015). Vietnam Redux: For Some the Vietnam War Never Ended. Bookbaby.

Adult / Military / Historical & Realistic Fiction

I gave this book 4* of 5 stars

In Vietnam Redux: For Some the Vietnam War Never Ended, author Howard B. Cohen has written an historical and contemporary military fiction story that takes readers back and forth between the Vietnam War and the war that continues today between the Vietnamese and its indigenous Montagnards, allies to American soldiers in the Vietnam War. 

Politician George Darnell brings together former Special Forces buddies Benny Friedman and Frank Stone -- both retired, wealthy, single, and pushing seventy -- and proposes a plan that Benny and Frank can't resist. Darnell, a lobbyist and advocate for the Montagnards and safe emigration for them, has received information that indicates that the Montagnards are planning a violent revolt, which could compromise any progress Darnell has made on their behalf. He asks Benny and Frank, posing as old Vets touring the country, to go on a fact-finding mission within the Montagnard community and to dissuade them from any violence. With the aid of Nyugen Thi Anh, a Vietnamese woman and Montagnard sympathizer, what Benny and Frank discover is that the Montagnards have an unfathomable problem: a plot by the Vietnamese Environmental Adjustment Agency, run by the vengeful Tran van Throng, to carry out the genocide of the Montagnards. Benny, Frank, and Anh join Dan Carter, leader of the Montagnard resistance, as they set-out to destroy the death camps and document the atrocities for all the world to see.  Through flashbacks to the war, readers learn many of the characters' backgrounds -- full of heartbreak, horror, and heroics -- which molded each of them into the people they are today.  Benny and Frank, compelled by their history with the Montagnards, find themselves going back into the jungles of Vietnam to fight to save their former allies.

What is impressive about Vietnam Redux is how author Cohen must have done meticulous research in order to provide such a factual account of the Montagnards and the role they played vis-a-vis the US Special Forces during the Vietnam War. Additionally, he has pulled current events straight from the headlines, where we see as recently as early March, 2015, there were reports of several dozen Montagnards hiding in Cambodia, hoping to seek refugee status for alleged political and religious persecution in their homeland, who were sent back to Vietnam. The reports indicate that some Montagnards have disappeared and there is suspicion of Vietnamese interrogations and torture.  Cohen's story, given the current climate in Vietnam and with the United Nations, is completely feasible. Military enthusiasts will appreciate the level of detail in describing weaponry, war tactics, and engagements, which are graphic and violent and realistic. It's war, after all, but this war has an entirely new rule book, where the lines are blurry between right and wrong, good and bad. The transitions between past and present were smooth and the characters were well defined. Through the last quarter of the book, the tension builds steadily, resulting in readers rapidly turning pages to get to the conclusion.  

*A note about the writing: readers who are bothered by writing errors will be frustrated by this book. The book is in desperate need of a thorough, professional editing. Normally, I do not recommend books that are in need of substantial editing, but Vietnam Redux is an exception. 

This book was reviewed for Readers' Favorite, which provided me an eBook copy in exchange for my honest review -- the only kind I give.

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