Book Review: War Stories: by Stephen Macdonald

[FULL DISCLOSURE: I received my copy of this book free from the author and/or publisher. I was not paid for this review and the opinion expressed is purely my own]

War Stories chronicles one Marine’s into the Marine Corps, to Vietnam, and back to the US. This is not a huge book at 240 pages but is well worth the read.

This is not a book like Robert Mason’s Chickenhawk but that does not take away from the matter of fact and realist story told. The book is a straight matter of fact account of one man’s journey into the Marine Corps and to Vietnam in 1967.

The author was a radioman in an infantry battalion in I Corps, the marine zone just south of the DMZ. He was in all the famous places of that zone from Dong Ha to Khe Sanh and retells the story of his tour in a workaday tone that conveys the immediacy of life in a combat zone. There is no dramatic language, just recollections. I found the book to very refreshing because events are not related as being individually earthshaking, they are just what happened.

As a combat veteran of Iraq myself the feelings and emotions recounted in the book ring true. I especially related to his description of how it feels to be under rocket or artillery fire. The fatalism he describes is exactly what I remember from the daily attacks on my FOB near Tikrit in 2004.

War Stories is exactly what it says in the title. The description of combat by someone who has been there and thinks his story is worth telling. It is not that his story is very different from that of thousands of other people, it is probably pretty similar to lots of stories from both Vietnam and other wars. It is individual and that he did something many of the men in his generation did not

This is a great book that tells a compelling story and is well worth the read. I highly recommend this book.