When We Walked Above the Clouds: A Memoir of Vietnam

Overview

The mythology of the Green Berets, of their clandestine, special operations, has been celebrated in story and song. The reality, however, could be quite different. This story of one soldier’s experience, the day-to-day loss and drudgery of Green Beret H. Lee Barnes, reveals the daily grind and quiet desperation behind polished-for-public-consumption accounts of military heroics. In When We Walked Above the Clouds, Barnes tells what it was like to be a Green Beret, first in the Dominican Republic during the civil ...

See more details below
Paperback
$15.88
BN.com price
(Save 20%)$19.95 List Price

Pick Up In Store

Reserve and pick up in 60 minutes at your local store

Other sellers (Paperback)
  • All (11) from $7.45   
  • New (6) from $12.37   
  • Used (5) from $7.45   
Sending request ...

Overview

The mythology of the Green Berets, of their clandestine, special operations, has been celebrated in story and song. The reality, however, could be quite different. This story of one soldier’s experience, the day-to-day loss and drudgery of Green Beret H. Lee Barnes, reveals the daily grind and quiet desperation behind polished-for-public-consumption accounts of military heroics. In When We Walked Above the Clouds, Barnes tells what it was like to be a Green Beret, first in the Dominican Republic during the civil war of 1965, and then at A-107, Tra Bong, Vietnam, where he eventually served as adviser to a Combat Recon Platoon consisting chiefly of Montagnard irregulars. Though “nothing extraordinary,” as Barnes saw it, his months of simply doing what the mission demanded make for sobering reading: the mundane business of killing rats, cleaning guns, and building bunkers renders the intensity of patrols and attacks all the more harrowing.

More than anything, however, Barnes’s story is one of loss—of morale lost to alcoholism, teammates lost to friendly fire, missions aborted, and missions endlessly and futilely repeated. And yet against this dark background, Barnes graciously honors the quiet professionals whose service, overshadowed by the outsized story of Vietnam, nonetheless carried the day.
 

Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

Joint Forces Journal
This rare look into life as a Green Beret makes a compelling read.—Joint Forces Journal
Nevada Review
Perhaps the best aspect of the book . . . is the attention Barnes pays to the words he puts on the page. Each one carries with it a meaning and a weight that makes his story far more than a war memoir or even a coming of age story.—Caleb S. Cage, Nevada Review

— Caleb S. Cage

Joint Forces Journal

"This rare look into life as a Green Beret makes a compelling read."—Joint Forces Journal
Nevada Review
Perhaps the best aspect of the book . . . is the attention Barnes pays to the words he puts on the page. Each one carries with it a meaning and a weight that makes his story far more than a war memoir or even a coming of age story.—Caleb S. Cage, Nevada Review

— Caleb S. Cage

Nevada Review - Caleb S. Cage

"Perhaps the best aspect of the book . . . is the attention Barnes pays to the words he puts on the page. Each one carries with it a meaning and a weight that makes his story far more than a war memoir or even a coming of age story."—Caleb S. Cage, Nevada Review
Lt. Col. (Ret.) Raymond C. Morris

When We Walked Above the Clouds was written for those who want to know what it was like to dig trenches in 110 degree heat, rip off leeches, zip a buddy inside a body bag, or pull the trigger on a complete stranger. This is what the war in Vietnam was like as told from a grunt’s level. Barnes pulls no punches in his gritty account of the teammates he served with, and of those he lost, at a mountain jungle village called Tra Bong.”—Lt. Col. (Ret.) Raymond C. Morris, U.S. Army Special Forces, author of The Ether Zone: U.S. Army Special Forces Detachment B-52, Project Delta
Mary Clearman Blew

“As beautifully written as it is heartbreaking, Lee Barnes’s memoir probes through the conventional views of the Vietnam War and finds, amid the squalor, the banal, and the absurd in the Tra Bong action of 1966, the truly heroic.”—Mary Clearman Blew, author of All but the Waltz
Bill Branon
“Lee Barnes growls his profane hymn not just to this war but to all wars. In the process, he justly scuttles Hollywood hyperbole, REMF embroidery, and self-serving short-rounds. The writing is stark. Hard. Honest. Do you and yours a favor. Own this book. You will be left with the scent of blood and cinnamon and something more: the need to shake the hand of a returning warrior.”—Bill Branon, Captain (DC) USN (Ret.), author of Let Us Prey, a New York Times Notable Book of the Year
Library Journal
Novelist Barnes (English, Coll. of Southern Nevada) presents a memoir of his Vietnam War experience. This is a vivid testament to the disillusionment, boredom, fear, banality of death, and friendships that are hard for those who were not there to understand without books like this. A young man lacking direction but seeking a place in the world where he could excel, Barnes enlisted in the army and completed Special Forces training and served in the Tra Bong camp, his days filled with cleaning latrines, guard shifts, and obtaining water. His patrols with the much respected Montagnards provided relief from the monotony. Images of dead friends' corpses still haunt him. Despite all, Barnes writes that he would trade all his years since to return to that time to share again the hardship and rare moments of laughter. VERDICT This joins Philip Caputo's A Rumor of War as a haunting and beautifully written book. Readers may find it difficult to read but also difficult to put down. Highly recommended.—Patti McCall, Pratt Inst. Lib., Brooklyn, NY
Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780803264809
  • Publisher: University of Nebraska Press
  • Publication date: 9/1/2012
  • Pages: 320
  • Sales rank: 959,618
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.40 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Meet the Author

H. Lee Barnes is a professor of English at the College of Southern Nevada and the author of several collections of short stories, including Minimal Damage, and a novel, The Lucky.

Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Be the first to write a review
( 0 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(0)

4 Star

(0)

3 Star

(0)

2 Star

(0)

1 Star

(0)

Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Noble.com Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & Noble.com that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & Noble.com does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at BN.com or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation

Reminder:

  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & Noble.com and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Noble.com Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & Noble.com reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & Noble.com also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on BN.com. It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

 
Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously

    If you find inappropriate content, please report it to Barnes & Noble
    Why is this product inappropriate?
    Comments (optional)