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Reviewed by Ray Simmons for Readers' Favorite
James Garrison was in Vietnam. I don’t know when. I don’t know where. I don’t know anything else about him, but I know he was there. There is an authenticity and literary realism that his novel QL4 has that cannot be manufactured or copied. You have to have lived it. You must have lived it and you must know how to write. That is what makes the very best novels about our failed experiment in Vietnam. That is what makes QL4 a great novel. You cannot manufacture the social system that the U.S. Army creates in Vietnam and everywhere else it goes. You can only live it and then try to recreate it on paper so that others will have an idea of what it was like. That America, that Army jargon, that forced togetherness and camaraderie between men who would never even come together back in the real world is something I have never seen in any other organization or situation.
The most impressive thing about QL4 by James Garrison is that it took me back to my own Army experience. So many of the soldiers in QL4 reminded me vividly of men I served with. What made that feeling even stronger was the situations that only war and the Army can create repeatedly. Situations involving death, corruption, theft, and betrayal of self, buddy, and country. The plot of QL4 is good, very good. But the characters are outstanding, as my old First Sergeant would say. As for the setting, it is Vietnam during the war, and I've already told you that James Garrison was there. If you want to have an idea of what all the fuss was about, read QL4.