4 out of 4 stars
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Deadly Waters: The Vietnam Naval War And Its Aftermath is a historical fiction novel by Randy Miller. This book is the story of the life of Zack Martin, but it could easily be about many other young men who fought in the Vietnam War. Zack is a seventeen-year-old country boy from Vermont who loves his farm life but wants to see the world before he settles down with his high school sweetheart, Tally. After boot camp, Zack heads to Vietnam aboard a destroyer, the USS Hawke. Zack would see first-hand the beauty and horror of life as a Blue Water Navy sailor during the Vietnam War.
The author, a U.S. Navy Vietnam veteran, provides an outstanding account of the experiences of his fellow sailors in Vietnam and their return to the United States. The book is divided into three parts. The first part contains Zack’s introduction to naval life on board his first ship. The second part finds Zack heading back to Vietnam on the much larger cruiser, the USS Providence. He has made friends - and enemies - and is excelling in his career. He also remains true to Tally. The third part details Zack’s return home and the devastating lack of medical support the VA would provide to him and his fellow sailors who were exposed to Agent Orange.
Mr. Miller fully develops the characters and vividly portrays landscapes and people from the shores of Vietnam to the Pacific coast of California to the farms in Vermont. The reader, along with the crew of the Hawke, is introduced to Agent Orange, the new chemical defoliant that’s “harmless to human and animal life, but it’s going to wipe out all of the vegetation.” What I liked most about this book was that I learned about the Vietnam War experience alongside a young sailor whom I trusted. Zack was a good kid. He was smart, honest, loyal, and hardworking. He obeyed orders but did not blindly agree with them.
I found it hard to understand the dialogue in the beginning when Zack first boarded the Hawke. The dialogue is displayed phonetically, highlighting the New England and Southern accents. After a while, the accents became less prominent. In retrospect, the accents lessened as Zack became acclimated to his new environment: he even began adding the missing “r” to his pronunciation of words. Expecting this difficulty in understanding the phonetic dialogue, the author provides Glossary A, a translation of words from Vermont to English. He also provides Glossary B, a list of naval terms, which is helpful for readers without a military background.
Without hesitation, I rate Deadly Waters: The Vietnam Naval War And Its Aftermath 4 out of 4 stars. It appeared to be professionally edited - I noticed less than five grammatical errors. The story is filled with plenty of colorful profanity that is primarily found in the service members’ dialogue. I recommend this book to anyone who enjoys character-based historical war novels. Even if this is not your genre of choice, I highly recommend this read to anyone who wants to know about the Vietnam War, particularly the Agent Orange issue. I do not recommend this book to those who are not interested in a sailor’s experience in the Vietnam War or those who would be offended by the profanity.
Deadly Waters was published in 2018. In his notes at the end of the book, Mr. Miller cautions the reader that it irritates the Blue Water Navy veterans when we thank them for their service while they are still fighting for the benefits due them. Fittingly, I am submitting this review on Veterans Day 2019. Congress unanimously passed H.R. 299, the Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act of 2019, and President Trump signed it into law in June. This legislation will provide benefits to the Blue Water Navy veterans that were affected by Agent Orange. I hope Mr. Miller and his fellow service members will finally receive the benefits they and their families deserve.
Deadly Waters: The Vietnam Naval War And Its Aftermath
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