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One man’s powerful insight into the realities of the Vietnam War.
As a youngster the author was raised a catholic, his father owned an Irish bar in the north side of Chicago, he was shy and had a devoted girlfriend. Those years were a time of wonderful innocence, luckily, he had no idea what the future would hold for him, physically, emotionally and religiously.
On the 17th of May 1966, aged 20, he was like many others called up for the drafted, and enrolled in the Fort Kansas Ninth Infantry Division. After 32 weeks basic training, which could in no way have prepared these young men for life in the swamps and jungles, the recruits were called ‘C’ (Charlie) Company and sent to Vietnam, to become part of the Mobile Riverine Force based in the Mekong Delta and operating from US Navy gunboats.
As soon as I started to read this book I was immediately struck by the author’s clear recollections of his comrade’s backgrounds and future dreams, his attention to detail in this respect brings the book wonderfully alive as we get to know the men behind the camouflage gear. As expected in a war book there are many graphic and horrifying images which the writer has been brutally honest in his descriptions of, not only the fighting, but also in methods of torture and some of the truly horrendous ways it was implemented by both sides. We discover also, how hard it was for these young Americans to acclimatise to living in the jungle, the rations, dysentery, insects, depression, and of course the deaths and terrible injuries caused by claymore mines, guns and fighting. However, in his representation of the horrors of war, the author hasn’t forgotten to give the reader glimpses into how life was like for the non-fighting Vietnamese people and how, unsure of what the future would hold, they openly hedged their bets with both sides.
Another very important character in this story who we are introduced to very early on is Van, a prominent member of the Viet Cong movement, a young man with an all-consuming hatred of the Americans burning within him. However, we are to wonder if this is going to change when he falls in love with the beautiful Tuyen. Their love is so fierce that when Van leaves Th oi Son Island for Cambodia, to recruit and train new soldiers in war craft, interrogation and torture, she trains to become a spy, using her womanly whiles to infiltrate the lonely American men of the intelligence services.
As we follow the author through this nightmarish war we discover that even in the most hellish situations love can be found, and indeed true love knows no boundaries. However, always where there is love there is also a myriad of other emotions, including its direct opposite hate, and perhaps the most dangerous of all jealousy.
This book is not only an extremely interesting look at the Vietnam War, the politics, and people, it is also an incredible testament to how the author’s whole life has been shaped by his experiences in Vietnam.
I have read many times that a person comes out of a war a totally different person, and having reading this absorbing, heart rending, vividly honest account by the author it is easy to understand why, when you span the years from that young man drafted in 1966 to the man portrayed on the last page of this amazing story. I just could not put this book down, and highly recommend it.
About the Author:
James Dennison grew up in Chicago, going to Catholic schools and living a life of too much drinking until he fell in love with the Italian “girl next door.” That all changed when he was drafted into the Vietnam War at the age of 20. Facing conflict on all sides and losing his friends on the battlefield in the jungle and his loved ones to alcoholism here at home, he still struggles with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. After the death of his only son in 2010, he wrote “Survivor Love Thy Enemy” hoping that to share his story would be to heal his demons. Having realized that talking to other vets is more therapeutic than talking to therapists, Dennison hopes that his book will reach others out there who have also lost much. He also gives light to both sides of the conflict, something that most generations, including this one, have trouble seeing. Dennison is retired from construction equipment sales and lives in Hawaii.
About the Book:
From an inspired Catholic family base, this youth’s naiveté and immature nature was hell bent on living the wild life of booze and party times when a special female, who he wanted more than his innocents could bear, changed his outlook forever. Then reality came to visit his dreams, turning them into nightmares of war. The Vietnam conflict would eat him up, grow him up and create a new perspective of life that only the enemy could teach. The language is harsh, the writing brutally honest and the message clear, it relates with great candor the unvarnished realities of dealing with day to day combat in and around the Mekong Delta during the TET Offensive. You will be shocked, fascinated, outraged and frustrated when you read about the US fight for Democracy and Peace in Vietnam and the enemy’s pragmatic dedication to the annihilation of the South Vietnamese and all Western ideals. This story is about an Army warrior who made the journey to combat and the unbelievable events that made up his combat tours….peppered by Vietnamese insight, perspective and romantic ardor. This is my story and it is historically accurate. Survivor, Love thy Enemy is a definite “must read” for military and civilians alike, once picked up, not put down until the last page read.
Survivor Love Thy Enemy is available from:
Amazon in Paperback https://www.amazon.com/Survivor-Love-Enemy-James-Dennison/dp/147747...
and Kindle format https://www.amazon.com/Survivor-Love-Enemy-James-Dennison-ebook/dp/...
Barnes and Noble in Paperback https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/survivor-love-thy-enemy-james-denn...