Finding Jack
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Finding Jack

4.4 25
by Gareth Crocker

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When the war ends, how do you leave your best friend behind?

After losing his young family in a tragic accident, Fletcher Carson joins the flagging war effort in Vietnam. Deeply depressed, he plans to die in the war. But during one of his early missions, Fletcher rescues a critically wounded yellow Lab whom he nurses back to health and names Jack.


When the war ends, how do you leave your best friend behind?

After losing his young family in a tragic accident, Fletcher Carson joins the flagging war effort in Vietnam. Deeply depressed, he plans to die in the war. But during one of his early missions, Fletcher rescues a critically wounded yellow Lab whom he nurses back to health and names Jack. As Fletcher and Jack patrol and survive the forests of Vietnam, Fletcher slowly regains the will to live.

At the end of the war, the U.S. Government announces that due to the cost of withdrawal, all U.S. dogs serving in the war have been declared “surplus military equipment” and will not be transported home. For the hundreds of dog handlers throughout Vietnam, whose dogs had saved countless lives, the news is greeted with shock and disbelief. For Fletcher, he knows that if he abandons Jack, then he too will be lost. Ordered to leave Jack behind, he refuses—and so begins their journey.

Based on the actual existence and abandonment of canine units in Vietnam, Gareth Crocker’s Finding Jack is a novel of friendship and love under desperate circumstances that will grab your heart and won’t let go.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
This debut is undone by improbable action scenes and glaring errors of fact, resulting in a sappy and unbelievable story. In 1972, 29-year-old Fletcher Carson enlists to fight in Vietnam after his family is killed in a plane crash. With the war nearly over, Fletcher and his platoon gripe about the futility of the conflict as they embark on reconnaissance patrols and impossible secret missions. During one patrol, the men find a wounded trained scout dog that they name Jack, nurse back to health, and adopt as their mascot. Jack repays them by sniffing out mines, booby traps, and ambushes, saving many lives. When it's time for Fletcher to head home, he can't bear the thought of leaving Jack to die in Vietnam, so he deserts and attempts to walk with Jack the 350 miles to Thailand, with Jack proving his mettle yet again after they encounter trouble en route. Unfortunately, unconvincing scenarios (sending relatively inexperienced troops on a special-ops type mission) and military inaccuracies (there is no such thing as a Phantom helicopter, for instance) dilute and distract from what could be an evocative story. (Feb.)
Library Journal
In 1972, a despondent Fletcher Carlson joins the U.S. Army after the deaths of his wife and daughter. Despite his almost-suicidal depression, he bonds with the men in his platoon and becomes a good soldier in the final days of the Vietnam War. While on patrol, Carlson and his unit are approached by a stray dog. Wounded and ill, Jack is nursed back to health by Carlson and his buddies and trained to help them on missions by detecting mines and snipers. When the cease-fire ends combat, Carlson discovers that the military considers dogs surplus equipment to be left behind. Distraught at the thought of yet another loss, Carlson decides to do what any dedicated dog owner would do: walk with Jack to the safety of Thailand, hundreds of miles to the west. VERDICT Loosely based on the actual canine units that served with the American troops in Vietnam, this first novel should appeal to fans of both dog and military fiction. [See Prepub Alert, LJ 9/15/10.]—Dan Forrest, Western Kentucky Univ., Bowling Green
Kirkus Reviews

Soldier finds dog. Soldier loses dog. Soldier finds dog.

After his wife and daughter die in a plane crash, writer Fletcher Carson finds little to live for. After trying, but failing, to take his own life, he becomes inspired to enlist as a soldier and in the waning days of the war goes to Vietnam. There he's with a platoon called the Fat Lady (because the opera/war won't be over till she sings). On a dangerous reconnaissance mission deep in the jungle, the platoon unexpectedly (and somewhat unaccountably) comes across a badly wounded Labrador Retriever. Lt. Rogan, the platoon leader, orders Carson to shoot it, for he knows that sometimes dogs are cunningly wired to detonate and kill American troops, but Carson feels an immediate connection to the dog and refuses to obey Rogan's direct order, endangering the men and enraging the lieutenant. Carson rescues the dog and takes it back to the base, enlisting the help of a veterinary-school dropout to bring the dog back to some semblance of health. Although Carson suspects the dog, whom he names Jack, has been trained by Americans to sniff out trip wires and booby traps, he's unable to find the canine unit to which it had been attached, so he keeps it to protect his own platoon. Naturally, Jack responds by saving Rogan's life. When a truce is declared and the troops are scheduled to return to the United States, Carson finds to his horror that Army dogs are regarded as "surplus military equipment" too expensive to ship home. He finds the order to abandon the dog unacceptable, so he remains behind with Jack, promising to get him out by tromping 350 miles through Vietnam, Laos and eventually into Thailand. Along the way, Carson gets captured, Jack disappears, Carson escapes, Jack reappears and Carson (with Rogan's help) eventually makes it back.

A predictable plot with a sentimental streak a mile wide.

From the Publisher

“Rarely have I read so moving an account of the heroism of animals, the compassion of the humans who love them, and the transformational relation ships that can spring up between the two. This is a story that will continue to live with you long after you've turned the last page.” —Gwen Cooper, author of the New York Times bestseller Homer's Odyssey

Like angels, great dogs find us, then lead us home. Finding Jack is the story of a man who had lost his way, and with the help of a selfless, heroic dog, finds it again. A story of redemption, determination, and unstoppable love, Finding Jack compels us to ask the question: do we have what it takes to be a hero?” —Steve Duno, author of Last Dog on the Hill

“Finding Jack is more than a novel of the relationship between a man and his faithful companion. It is the story of the bonds between man and dog, warriors and best friends. Finding Jack shows us the lengths that one man is willing to go to -- and the rules he's willing to break at the risk of his own life -- to save the life of another being. As a Marine who's seen his share of combat and rescued a dog from certain death in hell, I can relate to the many unspoken reasons for not only finding, but saving, Jack. This story is about humanity and doing what it takes to maintain your humanity in the face of depravity.” —Jay Kopelman, author of the New York Times bestseller From Baghdad with Love: A Marine, the War, and a Dog Named Lava

“the novel is quick and captivating. Ultimately, it's not the sensational Hollywood-style action that will stick with readers, but instead the humbling, eternal friendship between man and dog.” —The Christian Science Monitor

Product Details

St. Martin's Press
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
5.90(w) x 8.36(h) x 1.02(d)

Read an Excerpt

Finding Jack

A Novel

By Gareth Crocker

St. Martin's Press

Copyright © 2011 Gareth Crocker
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-0-312-62172-8


Death Valley, Vietnam
Six months later
6 July 1972

Only the top half of Fletcher's head was visible above the murky water. The rest of his body was submerged beneath the mud and thick reeds alongside the riverbank. He was drawing short, shallow breaths. From his position, he could make out three members of his platoon. Point man Mitchell Lord, radioman Gunther Pearson, and their lieutenant, Rogan Brock, were hidden in a classic L-shaped ambush awaiting an enemy patrol. They had been hiking up to a site three kilometers away to set up a landing zone when they were warned about them. Their information had the group at a little more than twenty soldiers — large by Vietnam standards. The fact that their own platoon numbered only half that was of no real consequence, as the ambush, coupled with their superior firepower, gave them a telling advantage. Their chief concern was that many Vietnamese patrols comprised small groups of soldiers staggered sometimes half a kilometer apart. There was a real danger that during the firefight, they would be outflanked.

Fletcher blinked away the sweat around his eyes and checked his rifle again. There was always a chance, however vague, that it would jam and leave him defenseless at the vital moment. As sniper, his job was to try to pick out the ranking officer and take him down first. Cut off the head, and the body will fall, the army taught them. It was the same modus operandi for both sides, and as such, none of the soldiers wore any insignia out in the field that would reveal their rank. But there were other ways of telling. Often the soldier consulting the map would be the ranking officer. Regardless, it was crucial that Fletcher allowed the point man to pass in front of him. If Fletcher fired too soon, the soldiers would have a chance to scatter and find cover. Another problem was that both the North Vietnamese Army and the Vietcong, or Charlie, as U.S. soldiers nicknamed them, were extremely smart and notoriously elusive. On one of Fletcher's first tours, several weeks before, they had set up an identical ambush on a patrol of sixteen Charlie, yet several of them had escaped. Given their position and superior firepower, the trap had seemed watertight, but there was a leak somewhere. An unseen hole through which some of the soldiers had managed to disappear. By the time the last of the rounds had been fired and the rifle smoke began to lift, only twelve men were left dead on the ground. In fact, so slippery was Charlie that some U.S. troops had been on tour for months and had never even seen him, although most had felt him. He was small, nimble, and blended seamlessly into the jungle. His tactics were to attack and retreat — basic guerrilla warfare. No helicopters, gunships, or bombing campaigns to support him. Just cunning and cutting. He would stab you and then withdraw into the shadows. Charlie was a ghost that never slept. He made traps that intended to maim, not kill. Traps that would slow down platoons and gnaw away at their spirit. In the jungles of Vietnam, Charlie was a highly formidable enemy.

Faint voices.

Fletcher narrowed his gaze to hide the whites of his eyes. He remained perfectly still, the area around him disturbed only by a swarm of flying insects breaking the surface of the soupy water with their wings in an attempt to lure out prey.

It seems everyone's hunting, he thought grimly. The body of his gun was covered with mud and rotting leaves to guard against reflections. Only the open barrel — the killing eye, as they called it — was visible to the trail.

Footsteps and voices. Louder now.

A soldier, barely five feet tall and wearing a worn pith helmet, emerged over the rise. Holding his breath, Fletcher curled his finger around the trigger of his M16 and followed the diminutive figure as he approached the ambush. Something slick and heavy swam between his legs. Still no sign of the rest of the patrol.

Waiting ... waiting.

Fletcher flinched at what he saw next. An American soldier wearing the distinctive emblem of the First Air Cavalry Division appeared into view. His arms were bound over a wooden pole behind his back, and his face bore the obvious signs of interrogation. As he limped forward slowly, he was kicked from behind by one of his captors.

Fletcher looked to his lieutenant for instruction. Through a series of hand signals, Rogan ordered him to take out the two soldiers directly in front of and behind the hostage. This would minimize the chance of the American getting shot in the firefight. He then signaled for the rest of the platoon to switch from automatic to single fire. He looked back at Fletcher and held up his fist, waiting for the right moment.

A bead of sweat rolled down the bridge of Fletcher's nose, paused for a beat, then dropped into the water. With one eye on Rogan and the other straining toward his two marks, he again held his breath. C'mon ... c'mon ...

Rogan dropped his hand.

Fletcher squeezed off two rounds in quick succession. Before the second soldier even hit the ground, the rest of the platoon opened fire. The sound was devastating. As Charlie tried to return fire, point man Mitchell Lord burst out of his hiding place, tackled the U.S. hostage, and dragged him down an embankment. It was typical Lord. He was every bit as brave as he was crazy. Toward the back of the patrol, three of the soldiers had managed to find cover, but they were quickly flanked and taken out. In less than a minute, twenty-three Charlie lay dead in the burning sunshine of Vietnam.

Just another day in hell.


After a quick sweep of the area to ensure that there were no splinter patrols nearby, Fletcher's closest friend in the platoon, infantryman Travis Tucker, untied the hostage. He appeared badly dehydrated; his tongue was so swollen, he could barely speak. Only after several generous sips of water was he able to relay some basic information. He was a helicopter pilot who had been shot down while dropping a platoon into a hot zone. He was the sole survivor. He had been held hostage for more than a week and taken to three different camps, where he'd been interrogated and tortured each time. Sometimes they would ask their questions in Vietnamese, knowing full well he couldn't answer. In Vietnam, the most horrific things passed for humor. His hands were shaking so badly, he could barely hold the water canister up to his mouth. Each sip seemed to improve his pallor though, as if the canister wasn't filled with water, but rather a skin-toned ink that was being infused into his body.

"Easy with that," Rogan warned. "He'll bring it all up." From a physical perspective, few men registered a more imposing presence than Rogan Brock. Although tall and heavily built, he was not the largest man in Vietnam, but there was something deeply unsettling behind his stare. There was a sense of raw aggression lurking beyond the black centers of his eyes. His shaven head and pitted face added additional threat to his appearance.

The pilot wiped his mouth with the side of his torn sleeve. "I can't tell you how grateful I am. Jesus ... thank you. I'm pretty sure they were going to kill me today. From what I could make out, we had one more stop to make. One more interrogation, and they were going to put a bullet in my face. How'd you know where to find me?"

The question saddened Fletcher. In his delirious state, the pilot believed that what had just transpired was a planned rescue. The truth was that the U.S. was having enough of a battle just trying to keep a foothold in the war without having to coordinate rescue attempts for POWs.

"Forget about it. The important thing is that you're safe now. We'll have you back at base tomorrow morning, where you can get some rest. The name's Travis, by the way. Travis Tucker."

"Will Peterson," he replied, accepting Travis's hand.

"Let me introduce you to the rest of the Fat Lady."

"The Fat Lady? I've heard of you guys. You were part of the company that survived that shitstorm outside Kon Tum. The story I heard had you outnumbered eight to one."

"More like four to one, and we didn't all survive. We lost three men that day," Rogan fired back. "You shouldn't believe everything you hear."

Travis moved quickly to defuse the moment. "This, as you might've already guessed, is our lieutenant, the charismatic Rogan Brock. The man sitting next to you is probably the third best sniper within a hundred yards from here, Fletcher Carson."

"Definitely top ten." Fletcher nodded.

"Radioman Gunther Pearson ... squad leader Wayville Rex ... weapons specialist Kingston Lane ... infantryman Arnold Keens ... medic Edgar Green ... and infantryman Craig Fallow."

More handshakes and nods.

"And this," Travis continued, "is the madman who dragged you down the embankment. The finest point man in all of Vietnam: Mitchell Lord."

Mitchell stepped right up to Will's face so that their noses almost touched. His eyes were open wide, unnaturally so. "Please call me Mitch. Only the ladies call me Lord ... or Jesus Christ, if the feeling grabs them," he said, winking one eye then the other.

"Well, thank you ... Mitch, that was some brave shit you pulled there."

Mitchell frowned, as if he didn't understand the comment, and turned away.

"All right, ladies, now that we've exchanged phone numbers, we need to get moving," Rogan cut in. "There's still a fucking war going on here."

They picked up their gear while Fletcher and Travis helped Will to his feet. As they moved out, Kingston Lane began to hum a tune. A few of the men joined in.

"What's this?"

"Every time we make it through a firefight, Kingston hums this hymn," Fletcher replied.

"Like some sort of victory song?"

"It's really just to give thanks that we didn't lose anyone and to let off some steam."

"It sounds familiar."

"It's an old Christian hymn called 'By His Hand.' "

"I like it."

Fletcher smiled, but chose not to reply. Instead, he allowed the tune into his heart. It couldn't cure their ills, he knew, but it sometimes helped dull the pain.

"Tell me," Will asked as the hymn ended, "why do you call yourselves the Fat Lady?"

"Wayville, why do we call ourselves the Fat Lady?" Fletcher called out.

"Because Vietnam ain't over, baby ... till the Fat Lady sings! Hoohah!" They all laughed until Rogan spun around. "We having fun, platoon? Should we light a few flares to make the VC's job a little easier? Carson, I don't want to hear another goddamn word from you until we hit the LZ. Do you understand me?"

Fletcher tipped the brim of his helmet, sarcastically so.

Rogan had a habit of singling him out for abuse whenever he was unhappy with the platoon. The reason, Fletcher suspected, was because a mild dilution of Asian blood flowed through his veins and because he bore some, albeit fleeting, resemblance to the Vietcong. In the outside world, his good looks opened doors for him. But this was Vietnam, and given the side he was fighting on, occasionally his olive skin and coal black hair incensed his countrymen.

After a while, Fletcher whispered ahead to Gunther Pearson, who was radioing through news of the ambush and subsequent rescue. "How much farther to the landing zone?"

"Around two clicks."

"How far?" Will asked quietly.

"Two kilometers. Do you think you can make it?" Travis asked.

"Make it? I'll fucking race you there."


Using entrenching tools, the platoon had soon dug several foxholes and rigged the surrounding area with trip wires linked to mines and flares. Fortunately they were in a clearing on top of a small hillock and didn't need to remove any trees. Most of the soldiers constructed hooches above their foxholes — makeshift tents created by zipping two ponchos together. Once all the work was done and their coordinates radioed in to base for the morning pickup, Rogan called the platoon together for a short debriefing. Afterwards, he turned his attention to guard duty. "Fallow and Green, you're on watch until 2200. Carson and Tucker till 0300. Rex and Lane, you relieve them till sunrise."

Travis raised his hands to his head. "C'mon, that's two nights in a row."

"On second thought, Rex and Lane, you're only to relieve Mrs. Tucker and Mrs. Carson at 0330." He waited for a response and, when there was none forthcoming, rubbed salt into the wound. "You should be more selective of the company you keep, Tucker. The people you side with can really bring you down."

"Then may I share a foxhole with you, lieutenant?" Travis asked.

Rogan had already turned and was walking away.

"Please, sir, can't I sleep with you tonight? I'll give you a back rub. A foot massage. We can even share my sleeping bag! Let's see where it takes us."

Rogan raised his middle finger and kept walking.

"Shit," Travis sighed. "I'd like to shoot him in the ass."

Fletcher shook his head. "Fucking graveyard again."

Mitchell Lord stood up and ran his fingers through his long black hair. How he was allowed to keep it that length was something of a mystery. "I'll take over for you guys."

"Thanks, Mitch, but if Rogan finds out you're covering for us, he'll piss himself," Fletcher said.

Mitchell was hardly ever assigned to guard duty, not because Rogan necessarily favored him, but because they couldn't afford to have him tired in his position as point man. Running point required an inordinate amount of skill and concentration. It entailed going ahead of the patrol, checking for traps, ambushes, enemy patrols, animal tracks, and even searching for secure pathways. It was also physically taxing, as he had to navigate and hack his way through long stretches of dense jungle with a machete. To have him up on watch was not only unfair, but also risky for the platoon. One of the reasons they had suffered relatively so few casualties was because of Mitchell's ability to sniff out danger.

At their foxhole, Travis removed his boots and sat down next to Fletcher, settling into as comfortable a position as he could find. He pushed his glasses onto the top of his head, which apart from a light sprinkling of wispy brown hair, was largely bald. Although not a particularly handsome man, he was blessed with piercingly blue eyes and a kind and open face that people responded to. For a while they spoke about Will Peterson and the firefight, but gradually their conversation meandered away from the day's events.

"Fletcher, there's something I've been wanting to ask you for a while now. I know I've got no right to ask it, and I'll understand if you tell me to shut up and mind my own business, but ... I —"

"You want to know about the crash?'

Travis nodded hesitantly, with the care of a man prodding a sleeping lion with a stick.

Fletcher propped up his rifle against the side of the hole and stared out over the jungle. "The Odyssey was billed as a revolution in air travel. Do you know that it took ten years to design and was capable of holding almost six hundred passengers?"

"I remember," Travis replied softly. "It was all over the press."

"You should've seen her, Trav. She was as big as a ship. Almost three hundred and fifty feet nose to tail, with a wingspan as wide as a football field. She had six engines and weighed just over five hundred and fifty tons. She was designed to fly supersonic at a range of ten thousand miles. Although," he said, trailing off, "they never did prove that ..."

"What brought her down?"

"A design flaw in the fuel system was the last I heard, but it doesn't matter. All that counts is that she came down. There were three hundred and twenty-seven passengers on board its maiden flight, and only nine of us survived."

Fletcher paused, steeling himself. When he spoke again, his voice seemed to flatten out and his eyes fixed on a faraway place, well beyond the jungle. "As one of the journalists invited to the launch, I was allowed to bring my family along for the ride. We had just reached our cruising altitude when the pilot invited all the children to the flight deck. Kelly was about to step into the cockpit when the door was slammed in her face and the children were all rushed back to their seats. The cabin crew told us to put on our safety belts and refused to say anything more. About a minute later, an engine on the right wing seemed to stutter — it felt like a cough — and then exploded. Another two on the left wing followed moments later. I remember trying to hold on to Abby and Kelly as the plane fell ... telling them that everything was going to be okay ... that the plane had backup systems, but I knew we were in serious trouble. And then ... and then there was nothing. I woke up still strapped to my seat, lying in someone's backyard. I remember the grass was freshly mowed; I can still smell it. A section of the plane's wing and one of its engines had landed no more than fifty yards away from me. The burning jet fuel had lit up a large oak tree in the corner of the property. Beyond it, through a collapsed section of wall, I could see what was left of the plane's fuselage. It was lying in an open field about a mile away. The flames were as high as church steeples ... I knew then that my girls were gone."


Excerpted from Finding Jack by Gareth Crocker. Copyright © 2011 Gareth Crocker. Excerpted by permission of St. Martin's Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Meet the Author

GARETH CROCKER has worked as a journalist, copywriter, news editor, public relations manager, publishing editor and, most recently, head of communications and spokesperson for a multinational corporation. Finding Jack is his first novel.

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Finding Jack 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 25 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Best book I've read in a long time.
NamDogVet More than 1 year ago
Being a Vietnam Veteran and Military and Police Dog Handler I found too many technical mistakes in the book, Mr. Crocker being from South Africa should have consulted with a Vietnam Dog Handler and had one as a proofreader. Labs were used in Nam but not as scout dogs, they were used mainly as Trackers and then as mine & booby trap dogs. "Phantom helicopter gunships" they did not not exsist. A 7 man platoon? try at least 40. Infantryman is not a rank it is a MOS. An enlisted man would never call a base commander by his first name, neither would a Lt. Too many other mistakes to list. BUT, it was a good story.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I do not know too much about Vietnam and I knew nothing about dogs being used in Vietnam until I read this, and did some additional research. BUT it is now my favorite book, mostly because of the raw and compelling emotions. I do not enjoy reading books with alot of f-bombs but it fit in with this book. It is incredible, it will make you cry, feel sick, feel anxious, feel is so good. I had to read it in two days- I hated to sleep because the book just carried me away and I got so attached to the characters. Not slow at all. It is the best book I have read in a very long time, and I have read plenty! If you enjoy a little bit of deep reading without effort this is a great book. Just read it!!!
HOOFPRINTS More than 1 year ago
You taste, feel and smell this book, it takes you to the jungles,during the war. I read this book in two days,because I had to know what happens next. I appreciated the novel more because I read "Paws to Protect, Dogs Saving Lives and Restoring Hope" and learned the fate of the soldiers dogs in the Vietnam War. When I was done reading it, I felt/feel an immense respect for the soldiers of the Vietnam War and a loss of respect for our government, for leaving the K-9 soldiers behind. This book is SO worth your time to read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
KsK9 More than 1 year ago
As a Vietnam era vet and a present K-9 handler, this was a super read. The author captured the mood and language of that time period perfectly.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Finding Jack is an incredible story of a man who seems to have lost it all. Carson Fletcher recently lost his wife and young daughter in an accident. He joins the military and finds a lifelong companion in Vietnam, a Labrador retriever. This story is full of emotion - it will make you laugh, cry, and fear what's next to come. If you're a dog lover you're sure to love this book. Gareth Crocker writes a heartfelt story that is sure to be a favorite.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I found the book inspiring and a must read book; I am also a veteran from the vietnam era and because that war was such a controversy and our military was treated badly by the american people, I feel the book came from the heart and a must read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I read this book about 60 books ago, and it is still the one that sticks with me most and remains on the tip of my tongue. Being a female, I didn't have to face Vietnam, so It was tough reading at times, but I couldn't put it down. It left such a lasting impression I have decided I'm going to purchase multiple copies for vet friends who made it back. I read this book by accident, but am VERY glad I did (and I have never before bothered to comment about any literary work--so thanks to the author!)
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Finding jack was such a good book. It was very sad thouh but it made alot sense so I could know whats going on in the book
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
By far, the best book I have read in a long time. I was so into it, that I read the last 80 pages in just over an hour. Definitely worth the money. Plus, I emailed Gareth telling him how much I loved the book, and he emailed back. He seems to be a very down to earth guy. Great great great book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
awesome. you won't put it down. one of the best books I have ever read. Tough read, because of the truth behind it's story.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Amazing book
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dhaupt More than 1 year ago
A tragic accident takes away the very heart of Fletcher Carson, his wife and daughter. After their deaths he tries but finds he just can't cope with living without them, after a failed attempt at ending it all he decides to try suicide by war. It's late 1972 and the war in Vietnam is almost over, we're loosing more and more boys everyday and many question the cost of their sacrifice, here at home we protest daily and treat our home bound soldiers not with fanfare but with barbs and shouts, but in the field orders must still be followed and that's where we find Fletcher. While on patrol his platoon finds an injured Labrador retriever, the Lieutenant orders him shot, but Fletcher won't have it. The dog is ultimately taken back to base where he becomes much more than a pet, but an invaluable asset protecting the men out on patrol. Then the news comes the war is over, there is cheering and celebration until the final edict is announced, one that will change forever the lives of a few good men and one brave dog. Gareth Crocker made me relive my youth and not all pleasant memories. I remember being in high school in the early 70's hearing horror stories of big brother's, uncles' and sometimes father's of my classmates coming home from war, but not completely as they were never the same again, and then there were the stories of the ones that never came back. But the one thing I didn't know about was the fate of the thousands of war dogs in which only a fraction came home, most were euthanized and some were left to their own devices when the US pulled out of Vietnam. This is the fictional tale of one of the lucky ones, a tale that will make you laugh and make you cry, but it's a tale that had to be told, it's an important lesson to learn and Mr. Crocker does a wonderful job of telling it. He tells it, not in prose and flowery dialogue, but in a narrative that takes you into the jungles, on the bases and into the minds of the men who were there. He gives us colorful characters that he builds up and then takes away from us, not because he's cruel but because that's the way it was and he gives us characters that survive, that sacrificed and made it through and those are the characters that will stay with you long after the novel ends. This is a love story about a boy and a dog, it's a second coming of age story of someone who lost his way and found it again at the end of a leash. It's about camaraderie and deep friendship, about doing the right thing, it's about fate and it's ultimately about faith in the face of terror and destruction. Is this an easy book to read, no. You will cry a few tears. Is it worth those tears, definitely. All in all this is a feel good book, even though you have to wade through some pain. It's a novel for all ages, for all walks of life, it's a testament to those who give voice to those who have none to those who do the right thing.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
harstan More than 1 year ago
In 1972, the family of twenty nine year old Fletcher Carson dies in a plane crash. Distraught and filled with survivor grief, Fletcher enlists in the army. After basic, he is sent to Vietnam. As the war winds down, Fletcher and his platoon complain about the uselessness of the combat, which has left so many of their comrades in arms dead and others mentally and physically destroyed. Yet though Fletcher and the other men know the war is lost they diligently still patrol the perimeter and perform secret missions. When they find a trained wounded scout dog, they bring the K9 back to camp. Calling him Jack, they help him heal. Jack joins them as a key member of the unit by locating deadly traps and ambushes. When Fletcher is assigned to go home, he wants to take his best friend Jack with him. Knowing he cannot do it through official channels, Fletcher deserts taking Jack on a three hundred and fifty mile trek through hostile territory hoping to reach Thailand. Finding Jack is an interesting Vietnam War thriller starring a mentally wounded warrior who was hurt with grief before he joined the army and the canine who becomes his family while saving his life by giving Fletcher a cause and subsequently a reason to live. Although some of the scenes the soldier and the dog get into seem over the top of Mt. Fansipan, fans who enjoy something different in their brothers of arms tales will want to accompany Fletcher and Jack as they run a deadly gauntlet. Harriet Klausner