Suicide Charlie: A Vietnam War Story

Overview

Drafted in the spring of 1968 from a job as a sportswriter for a small, New England daily, six months later Norm Russell found himself serving in the infantry in Vietnam in an outfit nicknamed Suicide Charlie and fighting for his life against some of the North Vietnamese Army's top units. In a remarkable journey that takes the reader from a time of innocence and protest back in the States to the battle of Mole City where, in the author's words, he makes his acquaintance with the Devil, and then beyond into the ...

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Overview

Drafted in the spring of 1968 from a job as a sportswriter for a small, New England daily, six months later Norm Russell found himself serving in the infantry in Vietnam in an outfit nicknamed Suicide Charlie and fighting for his life against some of the North Vietnamese Army's top units. In a remarkable journey that takes the reader from a time of innocence and protest back in the States to the battle of Mole City where, in the author's words, he makes his acquaintance with the Devil, and then beyond into the despair and depravity of combat, the reader experiences the Vietnam War in gripping and graphic detail, as well as the humor and comradery that helped make it all bearable.

For Russell, an unlikely soldier caught up in a war in which he did not believe, an outsider who grew up in a single parent home because his father committed suicide not long after returning from infantry duty in Europe during World War II, surviving the war meant learning to accept his own mortality, preparing to die, and then going on . . . Suicide Charlie is the true story of the evolution of a naive 19-year-old into a combat-scarred, Universal Soldier whose search for meaning speaks to questions asked by nearly all concerned citizens of the planet in the late 20th century.

The affecting autobiography of a small-town sportswriter drafted into Suicide Charlie--the bastard U.S. Army infantry company that fought in the hot zones of Vietnam where the combat was the bloodiest. Kirkus Reviews called it "probing, painful . . . . At times as piercing as a splinter in the soul." Original.

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Editorial Reviews

Joe Collins
Twenty years after its end, the Vietnam War still dominates the consciousness not only of those who served, but also of those who were left behind; and all who lived through that period remain reflective about it. Russell, an infantry veteran during 1968-69, reminisces about all the standard things we've read about and seen in many films. However, his fervor for the subject and his abiding interest in the question why helps this autobiography become a vivid testament to the spirit of soldiers in Vietnam. Russell is a liberal, but he's not doctrinaire. He doesn't pass much judgment on the politics of the war (a couple of references to LBJ's and then Nixon's Vietnam policies are about the extent of his political commentary). What he is, however, is a soldier, and the book is not for the faint-of-heart or the prudish (it "is" about war, after all). Russell peppers his text with historical and literary references that seem forced, but there's no doubting his sincere feelings, especially in a sequence where he tells of how he was given the chance to transfer out of the hellhole that was his infantry life. His decision to decline seems rather surprising until he explains his reasoning--if he was not in that spot, some other poor slob would have had to have taken his place!
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780275945213
  • Publisher: Greenwood Publishing Group, Incorporated
  • Publication date: 3/28/1993
  • Pages: 216
  • Lexile: 1080L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 6.35 (w) x 9.54 (h) x 0.88 (d)

Meet the Author

NORMAN L. RUSSELL is a graduate of the University of Massachusetts, and a self-employed writer. He has written and produced a PBS-TV program entitled, Fathers and Sons: Two Generations of American Combat Veterans, which won numerous awards.

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Table of Contents

Getting Acquainted

Code of Silence

Lost in the South

Marching in Rhythm

Riddles

Mole City

The Battle of Mole City

Routine Shit and Santa Claus

Team Sports

The Sweep

Enemies

New Mexico

The Battle of Frontier City

Dear John Letters

The Summer of '69

Apparitions

Songs

Time

Life on the Border

Lessons of Peace

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