4 out of 4 stars
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Deadly Waters: The Vietnam Naval War And Its Aftermath by Randy Miller was a captivating, heart-wrenching story about a forgotten battle fought long after the destroyers and cruisers returned from Vietnam. This historical fiction follows Zack Martin, a down-to-earth farm boy from Vermont, as he leaves his home state for the first time to climb aboard the intimidating USS Hawke DD 894. He leaves behind his beloved family and the love of his life, Tally Goodwin, with a promise to return promptly. He learns the ins and outs of life as a deck ape on a Navy destroyer, earning a name for himself and making life long friends in the process. Zack gives his full effort on every mission the Navy sends him on and every mission his mates attempt as well.
As every war before it, the Vietnam War required new weapons of warfare. The Viet Cong were fighting on their turf and the U.S. forces decided to employ the use of fire and herbicides to even the field, literally. The fire destroyed the land and herbicides, better known as Agent Orange, destroyed more than just the vegetation it was dumped on. Where does the deadly power of Agent Orange stop? It has no eyes, it recognizes no friend, no foe, all is equal to Agent Orange.
Miller gives an in-depth view of life in the Navy during the Vietnam War by putting us in the shoes of a fictional sailor who observes the reality of war with refreshing honesty. The book describes the inner workings of the ships, the duties performed on them, and the missions they undertook to fight the communist opposition. Miller includes descriptions of others who played important roles in the Vietnam war, a vindictive marine, an absconding NVA solider, a loyal lover, and many more. He writes in a clear, expressive voice that can easily be followed by those with no military experience or background. Acronyms and jargon are clearly explained and attention to the audience is attentively considered throughout the entire book. Miller shares a story that has repeatedly been disputed, stomped down, and systematically forgotten. Just like Zack, he battles on for a noble cause.
The book is very well edited and cleanly composed. I give this book a 4 out of 4 because I truly couldn’t stop reading. I liked most how the book beautifully balances the historical facts with the fictional dramatization to create an emotional connection that numbers and statistics lack. The only negative I have with this book is some of the fictional characters have unprobeable outcomes, but they do not take away from the story. I highly recommend this book to anyone interested in the history they leave out of school books and off the TV screens. When the final passage ends, you are left with the reality that the story isn’t over.
Deadly Waters: The Vietnam Naval War And Its Aftermath
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