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Reviewed by Ray Simmons for Readers' Favorite
I’m not an expert on poetry though I can appreciate it as much as the next guy. I picked One Year There: One Soldier's Year in South Korea During 1968 to read because I spent time in South Korea and I wanted to see how Robert Denis Holewinski’s tour in 1968 compared to mine in 1984. There were many things different, but I was struck by how many things were the same or very similar. The year 1968 was a turbulent one for American politics and I was struck by the different perspectives that black and white soldiers took on the assassinations of Robert F. Kennedy and Martin Luther King Jr. Also in that year, a group of North Korean infiltrators made it to the South Korean capital and nearly killed South Korean President Park Chung Hee. This was the stuff of legend by the time I arrived in Korea and President Park’s daughter is the President of South Korea today.
History aside, I found One Year There to be powerful. It evoked memories of a time and place long gone to me, but never forgotten. It evoked memories of friends that remain closer to me than my blood brother. I’m no poet. Neither am I an expert on poetry, but it seems to me that this is what poetry is supposed to do; evoke strong feelings, trigger those memories of times when we felt more alive than others. I encourage everyone to read this book, but especially those who served in Korea or know someone who did. I think you will learn a lot about what they went through.