A Field of Innocence

A Field of Innocence

by Jack Estes
     
 

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Jack Estes volunteered to fight a war in a faraway country he couldn't even locate on a map. He was a kid, eighteen years old. Married, broke, flunking out of college-and about to become a father. The Marines seemed like a good way out. He figured the Nam couldn't be any worse than home. He was wrong.

Publishers Weekly says "Chilling...It tells how a youngster from

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Overview

Jack Estes volunteered to fight a war in a faraway country he couldn't even locate on a map. He was a kid, eighteen years old. Married, broke, flunking out of college-and about to become a father. The Marines seemed like a good way out. He figured the Nam couldn't be any worse than home. He was wrong.

Publishers Weekly says "Chilling...It tells how a youngster from Portland, Oregon matured in the crucible of combat...The reader is given a sense of what it's like to fight an unseen enemy who might appear anytime, anywhere and start shooting from ambush."

Karl Marlantes, New York Times best selling author of "Matterhorn" calls "A Field of Innocence", "Powerful ...and riveting."

Tim O'Brien, New York Times best selling author of "The Things They Carried" says, "With its raw realism and heartbreaking honesty...one of the finest Vietnam memoirs."

Kirkus Review says A Field of Innocence is "Exciting and Impressive."

Editorial Reviews

Kirkus Reviews
2014-02-18
In his memoir, Estes revisits his time in Vietnam and attempts to convey the brutality of war and its effect on young men. As an 18-year-old with a pregnant girlfriend and few options, Estes decided to enlist in the Marines after high school. The year was 1968, but he says, "When joining I didn't really think much about Vietnam." Despite his naïveté, he then had to contend with a ferocious drill sergeant, the impending doom of battles in a country he knew nothing about and his longing for home. He befriended P.J., a crass jokester who claimed to be "a good looker, a lover, a fighter, [and] a wild bull rider." Together, they went from boot camp to the jungles of Vietnam, from which Estes provides a firsthand account of his experiences with bloody battles that seem pulled from Full Metal Jacket (1987) or Platoon (1986). His attention to the small details of everyday life during war is impressive, and the dialogue he recreates feels authentic and authoritative. However, the narration is a bit uneven. An older, wiser voice often interjects, undercutting the bombastic, vulgar exchanges and halting their momentum. The second half of the memoir, during and after the Tet Offensive of 1969, expands into less familiar territory. Estes writes of his time with soldiers who never entered into the fight, his working alongside Vietnamese citizens and the difficulty of returning home. He packs an enormous amount of horror and violence into short, rough sentences. "We weren't shocked. We weren't sad. We were tired," he says of soldiers in a devastating battle. It's in this mode of honest, straightforward reporting that his first-person vantage point finds its most affecting moments. An exciting, personal retelling of time in Vietnam, though a narrative imbalance distracts from reflections on the true effects of war.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780446360388
Publisher:
Grand Central Publishing
Publication date:
07/15/1990

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