Title: 363 Days in Vietnam
Author: Michael Stuart Baskin
Publisher: Primedia eLaunch LLC
“It may sound weird to say this, but I think lots of guys like to witness and/or trigger explosions, and I’m one of them,” Michael Stuart Baskin admits in his book, 363 Days in Vietnam: A Memoir of Howitzers, Hook-Ups & Screw-Ups from My Tour of Duty 1968 to 1969.
~ What ~
At two-hundred-and-fifteen pages, this paperback targets those who are intrigued reading about the personal experiences and memories of a United States serviceman who served during the war in Vietnam. With some profanity, the topics of drugs, prostitution, war, and death may not be appropriate for immature readers. After a dedication page, map, and briefing, the short-chaptered book ends with a debriefing, taps, and the author’s biography. Black and white photographs grace the pages in chronological order.
This is a quick read that shows the multi-faceted sides of a young man who was drafted in the U.S. Army and went to Vietnam for almost a year in the 1960s. With detailed memories, the writer explains the good, bad, and ugly of how he survived a war ten-thousand miles away from home. From the mundane of KP, R&R, and comic books to humorous tales of unauthorized tent awnings, a snake consuming a black rat, and doorless five-minute showers visited by Donut Dollie, it also includes the blatant depression, awkward loneliness, and ever-growing fear of Charlie when there was a sapper invasion.
~ Why ~
War is not pretty, and this short book focuses on how U.S. Army Specialist 4 Baskin had the wherewithal to get through what were probably the worst days of his life. Written as somewhat of a diary by listed numbered days in the service, the stories are not all gloom and doom but have added irony, sarcasm, and wit trying to survive another day at a job the writer felt, at times, was unnoticed and unappreciated. The short inserts are funny, sad, somber, and cathartic as awkward M14s are shot, heavy howitzers are explained, an Aussie mercenary squad is saved, and the VC enemy attacks. I was impressed by the many photographs and details since it has been over fifty years since the author’s service that I thank and greatly appreciate.
~Why Not ~
Those who do not like discussions and viewpoints about war, Vietnam, methedrine depression, and the frustration of the United States’ involvement in the overseas military engagement may not like this book. Others may wonder if there was any “God moment” Baskin had when facing a tragic situation or the possibility of his demise.
~ Wish ~
While I enjoyed reading this personal story of one man’s wartime experiences, I wish more of the actual dates were included so I could correlate them to what I was doing at the same time when I was eleven years old in America. The book would be perfected if it was professionally edited and some of the photographs were lightened.
~ Want ~
If you do not know much about how our U.S. boys arduously served in the Vietnam War, this would be an excellent reminder that portrays one’s personal fortitude, rampant loneliness, and continual attempts at normalcy while trying to survive the bloodshed, depression, and loss during the fog of war.
Rating: 4.5 of 5 stars
Thanks to the author for this complimentary book that I am under no obligation to review.
This book can be purchased at https://amzn.to/2WwuZdk