McLeod served in Vietnam in 1967-68 as a crew chief with the 187th Assault Helicopter Company, and, ``Some of the story related here is my own,'' he allows in the introduction. The protagonist is called Jim McLaughlin, and it's unclear which of the adventures are the author's and which happened to others. Though there's plenty of combat action, much of the narrative concerns McLaughlin's run-ins with superior officers, and the author seems unaware that the protagonist's salient characteristic is resentment of authority. McLeod records endless compliments paid to McLauglin for his combat skills, fearlessness and religious faith and quotes the supposedly sage advice this 20-year-old enlisted man dispenses to his peers. The combat sequences, however, are exciting, as is the section about McLaughlin's R&R furlough in Manila. The problem is, one is never sure how much of the book is fiction. Photos. (Feb.)
A roman a clef of life and death in an assault helicopter during the TET offensive of 1968. The protagonist in this Vietnam War novel experiences, or sees, in a short time, every conceivable episode of that war: Viet Cong thrown from helicopters, the mock ``fragging'' of an unfriendly officer, being shot down in the midst of the enemy, the child saboteur, the night attack on a helicopter base. The author, a door gunner and crew chief in Vietnam during that time gives us a bit too much to chew on, alternating an eerily authentic vision with moments written in a ``True Combat Tales'' fashion. An odd entry with many rough edges and inaccuracies. Mel D. Lane, Sacramento, Cal.