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Reviewed by Christian Sia for Readers' Favorite
Vietnam, The Last Combat Marines: Military and Political Times of the Baby Boomer War by David Gerhardt is a nonfiction military book that revisits the gory experience of Vietnam and its political and social repercussions. The author shares painful experiences of soldiers, brainwashed and convinced into believing that fighting communism was the noblest of aims, and thrust into a dangerous world filled with uncertainty, with unusual happenings like two members of the squad shooting at each other, and living in rabbit holes. Gerhardt takes readers into the dangerous trails and alleys of the Ho Chi Minh trail, Vietnam and offers painful and firsthand experience images of the war.
As one reads from page to page, following the accounts of this experience, the question arises of whether it was right to send young men into this war. The author explores the implications of the war as experienced by the soldiers and their families, the loss of life, the uncertainty, and the political controversies, both at home and among the soldiers. From the very beginning, he comments: "I now have two sons. I cannot imagine how I would feel if one of them was sent into a war zone. It would be ten times more difficult worrying about them as a parent than it was for me to live through it as a young adult…" This is another firsthand experience of Vietnam, told with ruthless honesty and in a first-person narrative voice that is engrossing. Vietnam, The Last Combat Marines: Military and Political Times of the Baby Boomer War is a powerful testament of a political choice that has haunted the American conscience over the years. Was it worth it? The narrative is as informative as it is inspiring; a look into the Vietnam experience as lived by the soldiers who fought there.