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Friday, July 24, 2015
THE PRICE THEY PAID: ENDURING WOUNDS of WAR by Michael Putzel
Published in 2015
Michael Putzel has written a sort of unit history of C Troop 2/17th Cavalry 101st Airborne Division in Vietnam, also known as the Condors. The tales of combat in Vietnam and Laos are exceedingly well-told, riveting and harrowing. They tell of bravery, loyalty and loss and gave me a picture of a part of the war that I really knew very little about before.
But, as good as those stories are, the real strength of the story is the story about what comes after the war. The title, The Price They Paid, is more than just story of who was injured and who died in the war. Certainly, they paid the highest price. But, the men who were injured, the men who lost their friends, even the men who went through unscathed - those men who survived to go home also paid a price and that is what I found most compelling.
The book focuses on Jim Newman, a man who started as a private in the army, worked his way to becoming an officer. In Vietnam he led his men in the Air Cavalry (helicopters, if you are not familiar with it) with daring skill. He was an officer who knew what it was like to be an enlisted man. He loved to fly helicopters and he was good at it. He didn't waste his men's lives but he knew when to take risks and his men admired him. He was on a career path to become a general before he self-destructed after the war. From a distance, he seemed successful, but he was deeply troubled in his personal life with multiple divorces, estranged children and even a charge of bigamy - none of it is explained.
Putzel writes about others who served with Newman. Some have lingering physical ailments. Some have new ailments such as cancer, thought to be from exposure to Agent Orange. Many of them have PTSD to some extent - some have paranoia, some anger at a government that would not live up to its promises and some just never really got their lives on any sort of track after the war. It was all part of The Price They Paid.
I rate this book 5 stars out of 5.
Note: I received a review copy of this book from a publicist so that I could write an honest review.
This book can be found here on Amazon: The Price They Paid: Enduring Wounds Of War.