The lighthearted tone of this first novel distinguishes it from most fiction about the Vietnam war. Central character Lt. Ed Meadows, whose career parallels the author's, graduates from West Point in 1960, volunteers for the then-relatively unknown Special Forces, and promptly finds himself part of a secret U.S. ``advisory'' mission to Laos--Operation White Star. Sutton's depictions of stateside training, culture shock and combat are conventional but refreshingly free of the melodrama that often seduces beginning authors. Set early in the conflict, the novel seems almost quaint by later military standards: helicopters play a marginal role, weapons are WW II vintage, characters still speak of the enemy as the Viet Minh. Attitudes seem correspondingly dated. Meadows and his comrades see themselves as professional soldiers fighting a policy war directed by men in Washington who presumably know what they are doing. Sutton's artless reconstruction of a simpler place and time gives his novel a curiously elegaic quality that transcends limitations of plot and dialogue. (Jan.)
Daring Books specializes in publishing personal narratives of the Vietnam War. In this thinly fictionalized memoir, First Lieutenant Ed Meadows goes to Fort Bragg in 1961 to become a Special Forces soldier. His training seems notable primarily for beer and comradeship; then he is shipped off to Laos to be an ``advisor'' in the secret war being run by the CIA using Laotian soldiers and tribesmen against Viet Minh and North Vietnamese regulars. He commands a small advisory/guerrilla war unit, and gets into combat against a North Vietnamese battalion. The book is heavy on insider slang and obscure military jargon, and it is stiffly written. The insights are limited, simplistic, and nostalgic. This is probably of little interest outside the Special Operations fraternity. Only for hard-core military fiction fans.-- Edwin B. Burgess, U.S. Army TRALINET Ctr., Fort Monroe, Va.