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Reluctant Soldier, Uneasy Veteran – A Year in Vietnam and Beyond

- A Review by Bob Zeigler

Mark Fleming’s book is about his experiences in the Army in Vietnam.  It displays the waste and costs of war that he saw in Vietnam, his own learned aggressiveness, fears and violent desires that discomforted him and inspired him to work with Vets for Peace, re-visit Post-war Vietnam and try to assist with needs of veterans of that and recent wars.  He demonstrates a responsibility on being a part of that even though a critic of the war.  This war involvement still leaves him uneasy.  This book shows the subtle but very real cost of war on even one of the lucky ones, like Mark.  One serious effect of war is suicide of returning vets with 3 times the numbers of our soldiers killed in Vietnam War.  There are many casualties of war.  Reluctant Soldier – Uneasy Veteran is an important book for parents who might want to encourage their children to join the military or young people considering joining the service.   It is a good read: 112 page narrative of his time in the army and as an infantry soldier and clerk in Vietnam and efforts to heal soldiers and the country since that war.  This is followed by blog posts, poems and short stories Mark had written about his experiences there.

Aeschulus is credited with the original quote:  “In war, truth is the first casualty.”  We have certainly seen that to be the case in Vietnam and our wars in the last 50 years.  

As is the case with any superpower,  there are serious moral questions about what that military is doing and the logic and mechanisms it and the country incorporates to get their citizenry to participate and support even very unjust domination efforts.  That is why Mark’s book is such an important read as our nation may be headed into military conflicts in Venezuela and Iraq or Korea as well as unending war in the Middle East. 

Mark Fleming’s book, Reluctant Soldier, Uneasy Veteran, A Year in Vietnam and Beyond is available for $17.95 at Orca Books and Browsers Bookshop in Olympia or from this website.

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