3 out of 4 stars
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Marine Captain James (Jim) Macklin was on his twenty-third mission in Vietnam when his plane was shot down. His captors held him in a family home until he could be handed over to the district officials. The time that he spent with the people from this village worked a profound change in Jim’s perspective of the war and the people his country had been bombing.
Jim in Enemy Territory by Le Lan Anh is a fictional story set in Vietnam during the war. The author opened the account with a description of the Vietnamese countryside. “Across the Lam Mountains, emerging from an intensely blue sky, a blood-red sun finally settles down after having laboriously blown all day over the world of men.” Vivid descriptions of mountains and rivers help readers visualize the village where Mr. Bi lived with his daughter, Na. The setting then switched to the United States, where readers met Jim and learned how he had progressed in his military career. These characters and cultures converged when Jim’s plane crashed. Their relationship developed as Mr. Bi and Na, aided by a group of militia women, captured Jim and attempted to deliver him to the district headquarters. Will Jim be able to escape his captors or will be become a prisoner of war?
I enjoyed the character development of Mr. Bi. He was a complex character with a humble background. It was interesting to watch his reaction to being assigned to a position of power. Jim also attained leadership positions in the military, as had his father and grandfather before him. In between these two stubborn, proud men, we find Na. Her quiet and gentle spirit portrayed itself in loyalty and obedience to her father, and patience and kindness to Jim. The author expertly built the relationship between Jim and Na, the captor and the prisoner. It was captivating to see how the dialogues between the Vietnamese moved the story forward. In contrast, Jim’s story was developed through the use of dreams, memories, and inner reflection as he neither spoke nor understood the native language.
I found this to be a fascinating fictional story about the Vietnam War. The story didn’t focus exclusively on the war. Readers enjoy delightful descriptions of typical Vietnamese foods, clothing, customs, and familial duties. Numerous photos of Vietnamese scenery and its people put the reader into the setting of the story.
I was disappointed by all the grammar errors in the book. Misspelled words, incorrect spacing, and missing punctuation quickly numbered more than ten on my list of mistakes. The book is a translation from French to English, but it needs to be edited by a native English speaker. Furthermore, it would be preferable to refer to Jim with the same name throughout the text. His name frequently changed from Jim to James. On page 95, both names appear in the same paragraph. There is moderate use of profanity throughout the book, moderate violence and one description of a sexual assault.
I rate this book 3 out of 4 stars. The author presented a compelling story that evoked various emotions and reflection. Readers are led to speculate about Jim’s fate after he is captured. I was obligated to lower to score to a three due to the numerous grammar errors. People who have an interest in the Vietnam War might appreciate the unique perspective this author gives to this war. This book would appeal to readers who want to learn more about the people and the culture of Vietnam. Families with relatives who fought in the Vietnam War might be triggered by this story, as the author is sympathetic to the Vietnamese people.
Jim in Enemy Territory
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