2 out of 4 stars
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Memories of a “Warrior” by Richard A Balliet is an autobiographical memoir about the author’s experience in Vietnam. This book focuses on one year of the author’s life, from December 1965 to November 1966, as he served his country as an aviator for a battalion named the “Winged Warriors.” The book goes into detail about his duties, various missions he participated in, and some of the more personal aspects of his time in Vietnam.
The book is told in the first person perspective. The author employs a conversational tone, speaking directly to the reader as he recounts the various events that took place within his year while stationed in Vietnam. The tone of the book was one of the best aspects as it helped provide the narrator a clear voice that one could easily connect back to the stories being described. Additionally, the author has added quite a few pictures throughout the narrative which worked to enhance the author’s story by bringing to life the various people and places described. It was enjoyable to study the pictures, and I found they helped me gain more insight about specific details of the author’s experiences.
Unfortunately, some aspects of the novel were rather monotonous. The author’s voice really shined when he focused on his personal feelings about his reflections. For example, one could feel his mixed emotions when recounting a story about the accidental death of a child and how this event continues to haunt him today. However, much of the narrative is dedicated to describing logistical aspects of his duties and providing technical details about various missions; these parts tended to be less successful. The writing seemed to lack the necessary finesse to convey these events as a warrior’s story instead of as a simple retelling of events. Simply put, many sections of the book fell flat and were tedious to read through.
Much of the narrative is a compilation of separate anecdotes and descriptions of events the author experienced while serving his tour in Vietnam. However, the book is organized into broad chapters covering one month periods; this meant sometimes a lot of material and many events were crammed into one chapter and only distinctively set apart from one another by a line break. Occasionally this proved to be confusing, but mostly, it stilted the narrative flow. The narrative would have been better suited to individual chapters or at least the use of separate titles to denote the various events and stories described within each of the month-long chapters.
Although there were some successful aspects of this memoir, like the conversational tone employed by the author and the addition of various visual aids, the narrator failed to consistently shine through in his stories, making for a monotonous read. I had a tough time rating Memories of a “Warrior,” but I decided on a rating of 2 out of 4 stars. If the author had better connected his voice to his stories and organized the narrative so it flowed more methodically, I could have gone with a higher rating. I only recommend this book for enthusiasts of non-fiction who are specifically looking for personal insight about the Vietnam War.
Memories of a "Warrior"
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