A Matter of Semantics

A Young Officer's Decision: Duty or Loyalty in the Vietnam War

Fiction - Military
292 Pages
Reviewed on 03/16/2021
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    Book Review

Reviewed by Lex Allen for Readers' Favorite

A young infantry rifle platoon leader must choose between career or integrity, allegiance or defiance, and ultimately between life and death. Lieutenant Brandt struggles with his duty to accomplish his mission and his loyalty to the soldiers under his command. He is forced to make moral and ethical decisions he never anticipated, tries to resolve conflicts as a matter of semantics, and begins making his own Rules of Engagement. His choices challenge his commitment to honesty and lead him down a path that diverges from the very reasons he volunteered for service in Vietnam.

Most Vietnam veterans don’t talk about their experiences with anyone except another veteran. That’s not to say it’s a good or bad thing; simply how it is. Frank Linik waited a long time to tell his story in the best way possible through fiction. I waited an equally long time to read or watch a movie about the war. When A Matter of Semantics came up on the Reader’s Favorite list, I passed over it three times before deciding to pick it up, and I’m glad I did. Linik’s writing style is straightforward, uncomplicated, and engaging in its characterization, setting, and compelling storyline. I was surprised that instead of shocking flashbacks, I got a lot of good ones... the camaraderie, the friendships built, the acronyms and language, and the lighter side of the war as well.

The story of LT Brandt is full of the essence necessary for a “good” fiction story, which by Stephen King’s definition for good fiction is “the truth within the lie.” There are great gobs of truth and verisimilitude throughout this story. This is a story of war, but it’s also a story of the inner battles between right and wrong, life or death, in an ever-changing environment that demands quick decisions. Even in war, there are funny times and fond memories that Linik skillfully weaves through the battles and the loneliness between the hardships of the daily grind, and the absolute horror of the firefight. Kudos, Mr. Linik, for a wonderful story well told.