[also see “Cuts from Cologne“]
Hilarious, dinky dau, delightfully wacky!
a Vietnam novel by Richard Morris
– finally a cure for the stink of war
Vietnam Veterans of America says:
“There aren’t very many funny Vietnam War infantry books. This is one of them. Read it and be amazed.” —David Willson, Books in Review II, The Vietnam Veterans of America Veteran
Writer’s Digest says:
“This is truly a superb novel of the Vietnam war, a novel that compares favorably with those earlier “dark humor” war novels such as CATCH-22 and M.A.S.H. The writing crackles with authenticity.”
A soldier in Vietnam invents a uniquely absurd solution to the horrors of war.
A relatively naïve Wilfred Carmenghetti comes to the Far East to outmaneuver the draft and save the Western world, but when he lands at the First Battalion to join an air-mobile platoon in the 13th Cavalry, the young Army lieutenant is greeted with a profane censure of communism and the offer of a $30 prostitute. Once he gets over his initial dismay, Wilfred accepts his place in this peculiar milieu by bonding with a black rabble-rouser named Joshua Henry and falling madly in love with a dilettante Vietnamese girl.
Morris, once a rifle platoon leader who tread in the same rice paddies as his fictional character, writes convincingly of battle, bloodshed and the disarming brevity of sudden, violent death. He also infuses his war story with the black humor prevalent in many modern American war stories like Catch-22 or M.A.S.H. as Wilfred struggles to outmaneuver the incompetently bureaucratic Lt. Col. Clary, his lapdog Capt. Simms and an engaging, philosophical Vietnamese spy. The book, played out in discrete segments following groups of characters on missions that usually relate more to their own motivations than the company line, also carries echoes of Tim O’Brien’s similarly toned The Things They Carried.
Eventually Wilfred, traumatized by his experiences and absorbed in a debate with himself over the nature of humanity, arrives at a fanciful conclusion that involves recycling the bodies of dead Vietcong to satisfy his superior’s appetite for grossly elevated body counts. “What we need to create is the functional equivalent of war: Everything except the killing,” he says. To wit, the illusion of war.
A funny and serviceable satire about the gross rationalizations that propel war and peace.”
Be sure to see blog post “Fact or Fiction in Vietnam” to compare reality and fiction in Cologne No. 10 For Men.
“I love the way Wilfred recycles the bodies. That’s fabulous stuff with a direct line to Heller’s Catch-22 and perfectly captures the insanity of the Vietnam War.”
Richard Peabody, editor
Readers call it:
– a riveting read that blends drama, romance and humor
– realism that only someone who was there can appreciate
– powerful; how war changes men
– humor, irony, tragedy and spirituality all woven together
– an anti-war novel in the best tradition (but aren’t all war novels anti-war novels)
– altogether hilarious, dinky dau, delightfully wacky
– zany…tactics that foil the army brass
Read it one long night and loved it!
— Ole fart “Poppa,” Southwest USA, July 2008
As a fellow Cav trooper, this book brought back fond memories of the great friends and infrequent happy moments made and shared by soldiers growing out of the unreal existence that was combat…
a story of what could/should have been.
It had me laughing out loud at how dinky-dau we and Morris’s characters had gotten.
The “Rockpile” at Chanh Giao
A major scene in Cologne No. 10 For Men is based on an operation by A Company, 2nd Battalion, 5th Cavalry, 1st Air Cavalry Division in September 1967 described in the division newspaper, The Cavalier, in an article below. Page 1 Page 2 Page 3 Division Citation