In Pharaoh's Army: Memories of the Lost War [NOOK Book]


Whether he is evoking the blind carnage of the Tet offensive, the theatrics of his fellow Americans, or the unraveling of his own illusions, Wolff brings to this work the same uncanny eye for detail, pitiless candor and mordant wit that made This Boy's Life a modern classic.

From the Trade Paperback edition.

From one of our finest writers, a brilliant and ...

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In Pharaoh's Army: Memories of the Lost War

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Whether he is evoking the blind carnage of the Tet offensive, the theatrics of his fellow Americans, or the unraveling of his own illusions, Wolff brings to this work the same uncanny eye for detail, pitiless candor and mordant wit that made This Boy's Life a modern classic.

From the Trade Paperback edition.

From one of our finest writers, a brilliant and unflinching account of his tour in Vietnam. As a young officer he ricochets between boredom and terror and grief for lost friends. Then and in years to come, he reckons the cost of staying alive in both body and spirit.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Wolff's memoir of his disillusioning experience as a soldier in Vietnam was a finalist for the NBA. (Oct.)
Library Journal
Novelist and short story writer Wolff, who recounted his early years in This Boy's Life (LJ 1/89), served as a junior officer adviser to a South Vietnamese army unit in the Mekong Delta for his tour in Vietnam. Wolff, a reluctant warrior at best, now offers an idiosyncratic, witty, and thoroughly enjoyable glimpse into his military service and his civilian life immediately before and after Vietnam. This extended essay is not so much a combat narrative as the story of a young man's struggle to reach maturity and coming to terms with his family, his loves, his America, and himself. Wolff's characters (most especially his father and the long-suffering Sergeant Benet) and the American and Vietnamese settings are vividly depicted in a style only a skilled craftsman could devise. An excellent addition to American literature and Vietnam collections for academic and public libraries.-John R. Vallely, Siena Coll. Lib., Loudonville, N.Y.
John Mort
Though trained for the Special Forces, Wolff--the acclaimed author of "This Boy's Life" (1989)--wasn't much of a warrior, spending his entire tour of duty in a muddy, obscure village in the delta. His most crucial assignment was to trade an authentic ChiCom rifle for a Zenith television so that he and the veteran sergeant who worked for him could watch "Bonanza" in color. He weaves into his Vietnam narrative the story of his sad, ne'er-do-well father and of a hopeless romance he enjoyed (and suffered) during his quasi-civilian year of language study in Washington, D.C. His is an extremely literary memoir, full of rueful, gracefully rendered anecdotes, most of them centering on his ineptness as a soldier. Back from language study, Wolff was first assigned to lead an airborne company on a jump. He couldn't remember how it was done except that the jump should begin at the appearance of yellow smoke. The smoke Wolff did see wasn't yellow, but he ordered his men out anyhow; they landed in a slimy landfill five miles short of the target. There's the story, too, of a hapless dog Wolff saved from a barbecue, only to have it end up on his plate at a farewell dinner. Wolff also delivers vivid accounts of close calls and a graphic report of the destruction of one small village in the aftermath of the Tet Offensive, but he never loses his pleasant, self-effacing tone, and because of his immaculate prose, his unlikely mix of memories is seamless. In fact, though it may seem an odd adjective for a war memoir, it's charming and could appeal to almost anyone.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780307763754
  • Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 9/1/2010
  • Sold by: Random House
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 240
  • Sales rank: 137,732
  • File size: 2 MB

Meet the Author

Tobias Wolff
Tobias Wolff
Best known for his short stories and his autobiographical writing, Tobias Wolff riveted readers and held them fast with This Boy's Life, a groundbreaking literary memoir that redefined the genre for an entire generation.


Although Tobias Wolff has described his own youthful self as a liar and an imposter, he has achieved in his writing a level of honesty so unflinching it is almost painful to read. The author of two groundbreaking literary memoirs and several volumes of autobiographical fiction (short and long), Wolff is not just willing to lay bare his pretenses and self-deceptions; he feels an obligation to do so. Like Rumpelstilskin, he has spun experience, memory, and a remarkable gift for storytelling into literary gold.

Growing up in Birmingham, Alabama, Wolff barely knew his largely absent father, a man he and his older brother Geoffrey (also a writer) have described as a con artist and a compulsive liar. While he was still young, Wolff's parents officially split up. Geoffrey went to live with his father; Tobias stayed with his mother, who moved around from state to state in a steady, westerly progression that finally landed them in Washington. Never a good judge of character where men were concerned, his mother married an abusive martinet who made her son's life miserable. Wolff recounted his misspent, miserable youth in This Boy's Life, a groundbreaking 1989 memoir that later became a movie starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Ellen Barkin, and Robert De Niro.

Wolfe escaped his troubled home environment by falsifying an application to a private boys' school in the East and fabricating a resumé so remarkable it got him in. He flunked out before graduating, enlisted in the military, and was sent to Vietnam -- an experience he chronicled in a second memoir, In Pharaoh's Army: Memories of the Lost War, published in 1994. When he was discharged from service, he visited England, fell in love with the country, and studied, with the help of tutors, to gain entrance to Oxford. He graduated with honors in 1972 and received a scholarship to Stanford, where he received his master's degree.

A three-time winner of the O. Henry Award, Wolff is widely respected for his short stories. His first collection, In the Garden of the North American Martyrs, was published in 1981 and received rave reviews from such past masters of the genre as Annie Dillard and Joyce Carol Oates. Subsequent anthologies have only served to solidify his reputation as a preternaturally gifted storyteller. His 1984 novella The Barracks Thief won the PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction; and in 2003, he published his first novel, Old School, a shrewdly observed, heavily autobiographical coming-of-age tale set in an elite boys' boarding school.

Nearly as famous for his teaching as for his books, Wolff served on the faculty of Syracuse University for 17 years before accepting a position at Stanford in 1997 as a professor of English literature and creative writing. He is also a crackerjack editor and has shepherded several short story anthologies through to publication.

Good To Know

  • Leonardo DiCaprio beat out 400 hopefuls from Los Angeles, New York, Florida, and all places in between to star as Tobias Wolff in the film version of This Boy's Life.

  • Separated at a young age by their parent's divorce, Tobias and Geoffrey Wolff both grew up to become successful writers. Geoffrey's 1979 memoir of life with his con-artist father is called The Duke of Deception.

  • In an interview with The Boston Book Review, Tobias Wolfe discussed the phenomenon of selective memory this way: " Memory is something that you do; it is not something that you have. You remember, and when you remember you bring in all the resources of invention, calculation, self-interest and self-protection. Imagination is part of it too."
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      1. Also Known As:
        Tobias Jonathan Ansell Wolff (full name)
      2. Hometown:
        Northern California
      1. Date of Birth:
        June 19, 1945
      2. Place of Birth:
        Birmingham, Alabama
      1. Education:
        B.A., Oxford University, 1972; M.A., Stanford University, 1975

    Table of Contents

    Part One
    Thanksgiving Special
    Command Presence
    White Man
    Close Calls
    A Federal Offense

    Part Two
    The Lesson
    Old China
    I Right a Wrong
    The Rough Humor of Soldiers
    Last Shot

    Read More Show Less

    Customer Reviews

    Average Rating 5
    ( 5 )
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    Sort by: Showing all of 5 Customer Reviews
    • Anonymous

      Posted November 14, 2001


      I had to read this book for a school project and absolutley adored it! It was filled with a dry humor that I could really relate and just an incredible read. I could not put it down. Well worth reading.

      1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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    • Anonymous

      Posted May 17, 2013


      He shook his head. He suddenly felt dizzy and sick. Blood seemed to clog his ears and nose and a river of red swirled around his paws. He looked up and saw the moon was at its peak which meant it wad midnight. Blood red frost covered the ground. Suddenly darkness fell. Flamingfur could not see but a bright flame apeared and lit the Darkness. It burned away the blood and melted the frost. Then he woke up. 'What was it i jst saw?' He thought. 'Was it a vision?'

      0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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    • Posted June 5, 2011

      Great sequel.

      This book is a great sequel to Tobias Wolffs This boys life.

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    • Anonymous

      Posted August 10, 2011

      No text was provided for this review.

    • Anonymous

      Posted July 13, 2011

      No text was provided for this review.

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