When one does a lot of book reviews, it sometimes happens that after further reflection, a reviewer will revise a review. That is what I’ve done with my review of Don Burton’s excellent book on his combat experience By What is Sure to Follow. I rarely take the time to do this, but Don’s book is so multi-layered and deep, that it deserves a second look.
I’m sharing the revised review here:
A Brilliant Account of the Savagery of the Vietnam War and Its Lingering Effects on Our Warriors
Don Burton’s book speaks to the journey all of the unnoticed true American heroes took as they served our nation in the Vietnam War. It tells of being a young participant in the Vietnam War. But the larger story is of Don’s struggle to rise above the death blow to the soul and psyche that afflicts those who have experienced brutal combat.
In a brief interview, Burton said he couldn’t write about himself. On advice from a Vet Center counselor, he said he put the story on the shoulders of fictitious characters. One day Don was living the carefree life of a college student, as was his main character, Luke, where his main focus was the young women on campus. After dropping a class, his college notified the draft board. Soon after, Burton was meeting with a Navy recruiter.
One of the other recruiters in the office he visited was a Recon Marine. Burton heard him tell another inquirer that “Force Reconnaissance Marines are the elite of the Marine Corps. Not just some faceless slime bag, but part of a highly trained team of professionals.” He further explained that Force Recon was equal to the Army’s Green Beret or the Navy Seals.
It was then that Don saw the other person decide to be a Recon Marine. His fate was sealed. The author chose the Navy so he “wouldn’t stomp around in the mud”. Little did he know he would end up working beside Marines in Vietnam.
Burton takes us on a wild ride through boot camp, to his horrific experiences in Nam. From a young man who once was “a lover, not a fighter” he explains, through his main character, how he reluctantly becomes a seasoned warrior (a war with one’s own moral compass.)
Burton’s book shows the tight bond that forms between men when they share in the “combat brotherhood.” It’s a bond civilians can never understand. When losses of his “brothers” come, one after another, (with no time to grieve during combat) it leaves life-long scars. Continue reading 'Another Look at Don Burton’s Vietnam War Novel'»