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Based on a true story, Beneath Buddha's Eyes offers a tender story of love amidst the hell of war, a singular perspective of the Vietnam conflict, and a thoughtful questioning of what we were really fighting for.
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Beneath Buddha's Eyes based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Even though this book is not perfect, I rate it five stars for several reasons. The first is that I could not put it down once I started it--few books grab me that way. The second is that the story's main characters, Peter and Kate, caught me in a way that made me care what happened next and, even more telling, makes me want to know more about what happened to them, especially after the Vietnam War ended, and what will happen to them. Peter and Kate seem like real people rather than vehicles for moving the plot along. The third reason is that it's a good book. When Peter was on an insane mission to the Ho Chi Minh Trail, for example, I saw what he saw, sensed the strangeness of the landscape, the wrongness of the mission itself. He uses words to paint an Hieronymous Bosch vista of Vietnam during the war. Although I will never truly understand what it was like there during the war since I was not there, the author is able to describe his experiences well enough for me to identify with him, to feel the outrage that he felt and the greed and corruption and insanity, to feel his sense of helplessness and hallucination at times, to feel the relief that he felt when he escaped from it for a while, and to understand the love he felt for Kate. I also like the way the story is told, in impressions, memories juxtaposed with today, limning the truth of how people really do try to work through traumatic events and try to make sense of what happened. There are many truths in this book, for Vietnam Vets especially I suspect, but also for anyone in recovery. I'm impressed with the way Tony Anthony did not preach or proclaim but said, in essence, "This is my story and these are my truths. Nothing more, nothing less." There are some scenes in the book, such as a session Peter has with his therapist near the end which, when I read them, seemed jarring and out of place. But the reasons they were included fell into place for me without my really thinking about it much--they do fit and they do say something and part of what makes this a good novel is that it's left for the reader to discover more than is apparent on first read. The book would benefit from the touch of a good editor to smooth out some of the scenes that did not work as well as they could have, and would benefit from some plain old copy editing to catch continuity and punctuation errors. But once into the book, the flaws are unimportant. It's a novel that will linger in your thoughts.