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Welcome Home: A Short Story of the Vietnam War

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...A coffee-time short on one man's moral code in the depths of war...

While entrenching positions in the Vietnam War, Sgt Stevens settles in for the night in a foxhole with his new Lieutenant and being to tell him the tale of soldier he knew called Jack Frost. Jack was a brave man and was torn about following in his family’s footsteps. is father and brother had both served in the Army and now it was his turn, but he could not bring himself to kill anyone. Even so, having signed up, he had a plan to avoid having to go to the front: to enrol in every training course the Army had to offer, in the hope that if he spent enough time learning, the war would be over before he had to go to the front line. Sgt Stevens and Jack find themselves in the same training squad. And when someone finds out Jack was the best trained soldier in the army to not be on the front line, they both find themself performing long range scouting missions in the same squad. Ordered to ambush the enemy, Jack makes his decision on how he will live with his actions as Sgt Steve watches on.

This is a wartime short story of a young man deciding how best to live with the decisions he has made growing up and how they will affect his life in the midst of war. The writing takes us quickly into the depths of the war, and then back out again as Jack’s history unfolds. Within the story there are only the two named characters, and it is their viewpoints that we have, switching between them as the story requires it. The writing makes it clear which soldier we are following and it does help the story, being able to see both an internal and external process of thoughts from them as they come to understand the challenges they face in being true to themselves. The story is quite brief and the ending does appear abruptly, but it does wrap up the tale to some degree. There is an interesting kind of irony in being trained to be the best soldier that you can be as a means of never actually having to fight and the author doesn’t try to give a right or wrong answer to the actions that Jack Frost makes, just how they fit into the insanity of war and the decisions that everyone must make when faced with being forced to take another’s life. The formatting and the layout of the story are fine, although it does have a repeated advert for another of the author’s book both at the front and back. I didn’t see any grammar or spelling mistakes while reading and it was easy enough to follow the story from page to page without being jarred out of the story.

Overall, it’s a good coffee time read if you enjoy the genre and it also gives a taster of the author’s work, so if you enjoy it there are more works to choose from.

Rating: 4
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