Thursday, January 9, 2014

CBR6 #1: Combat Corpsman: A Navy SEAL Medic in Vietnam by Greg McPartlin

Another year, another Cannonball Read. Last year was something of an abject failure, as I didn't even manage to complete the quarter Cannonball (13 books read and reviewed -- I read plenty, but fell behind with the reviews and never caught up). However, it's a new year, which means a clean slate (at least as far as this little endeavor is concerned.) I've only signed up for the half-Cannonball, though I hope to manage the complete again this year.

Anyway, on to my first review of 2014! This book was a gift from the lovely llp (as part of the CBR gift exchange), to whom I am extremely grateful. I've been wanting this book for ages, but it refused to drop into my price range. 

Greg McPartlin's tale of his exploits as a corpsman attached to a SEAL team during the later years of the Vietnam conflict is pretty great. McPartlin's has a strong, likeable voice, and his tale is full of gripping combat adventures, the brotherhood of the military, and attempts to keep morale up in a situation that could be pretty depressing.

If you are looking for a "what does it all mean? How should we feel about the Vietnam war?" type of story, this isn't going to be for you. McPartlin is strongly biased, and not afraid to speak about his feelings in (often salty) language. This is his story, and his feelings about the Vietnamese people are ambivalent at best, which comes through throughout the book.

However, I liked him, and I enjoyed reading about his time with the SEALs. They played some very funny pranks on each other, and the personalities of his friends and comrades also came through very clearly in the narrative. The only real downside is that it ends very abruptly when his team rotates home, and I would have liked to know what happened to McPartlin and his fellow SEALs.

It's not necessarily a thoughtful book, but it's a good read.

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