3 out of 4 stars
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Lions and Tigers and Cong is a memoir written by Theodore Wild. Wild writes about his experience as a soldier fighting in the Vietnam War. His story is told through the main character, Jim Reynolds, and takes you through the nightmare that him and the soldiers in his unit endured. These young men, from all over the country, had one thing in common: They were fighting a war that will always haunt them. These strangers bonded with each other, with dark humor, during the many long nights that they spent together in a war zone. This story is filled with the gruesome details of human carnage, poverty, starvation, disease, and fear that these men experienced every single day of their one-year tour in Vietnam.
Wild is very descriptive about the harsh conditions that the men faced as they walked through the jungles, slept in dirt holes, and walked through many foreign villages. This book is written as a timeline of events that Reynolds went through before, during, and after his time in Vietnam. He encounters different personalities, in his unit, who bring humor and sarcasm to his terrifying experiences. Every chapter takes you through the daily interactions between the group of soldiers who were on the ground with Reynolds. You learn about the Vietnam War, different cultures, and the psychological turmoil that these men endured.
This memoir about war stands out from others because Wild creatively includes poetry to expose Reynold’s deep thoughts. This adds raw emotional insight to what he truly felt in addition to what he would let his comrades see. I thought this made the book very enjoyable to read because it added more depth to his character and brought to light the emotional and psychological struggles of war: “Get dirty and bearded; tear clothing; cry in silent rage, frustration, fear, and sadness.” He also includes letters that the men received from family and friends back home, showing the challenges that war brings upon personal relationships.
I give this book a 3 out of 4 stars because there were many sentences that did not have a space in-between words. There were also spaces left out in-between sentences. This did not interfere with the flow of the book. It was easy to figure out where the spaces should have been. I would have given this book a higher rating if there were no editing errors.
The book is very long and I felt that it could be more enjoyable to read if the book focused on pivotal moments. The story would be just as impactful if some of Reynold's thoughts were edited out. The pace quickly picks up after the first near death incident that transformed the young soldiers into old men, when they quickly learned how to rely on each other and adapt to the conditions of war. The chapters are filled with events that engage you to find out who would survive.
I recommend this book to those who are interested in reading memoirs about war, especially those who want to learn about the Vietnam War. I would not recommend this book to those who are uncomfortable with profanity, racial slurs and are sensitive to very graphic details about death in a war zone.
Lions and Tigrs and Cong
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