Junkyard Dogs is a work of military fiction set against the real-world conflict
of Vietnam--circa 1968. From the very first page, the reader is immersed
in the seemingly alien world of the day-to-day lives of the American Marines
and the locals in the villages of South Vietnam.
with the hard-hitting jargon and colorful slang of the day, the story revolves
around Corporal Socrates (the bravado of nicknames seems to have been the
norm), a CAP Marine stationed at Fort Cragg in the village
of Khung Toi. The village was nicknamed The Junkyard because of it's
dilapidate state (that and because Li'l Abner's Dogpatch had already been
on the reader learns that Socrates is a dedicated Marine; one who believes in
the ideals of the Corp, and in the goals of protecting the locals from Viet Cong
raiders. Along with his fellow Marines,
Captain Hook and Sneaky Pete, he is recruited for special assignments by the
shadowy Mr. Smith (a man who he believes works for CIA); what had started out
to be just another way to get at the Viet Cong, eventually threatened to turn
him and his men into political assassins and terrorists.
young man, Socrates found his strength and discipline through playing soccer in
school, through his dreams we learned of his past and how it shaped his
character, as well as reflecting on his apprehensions of the current situation.
struck me the most about the writing style was the incredible richness and
attention to details, combined with an intimate quality among the characters that
easily drew you into the story--in a very true sense you could feel the mud beneath
your toes--what some might consider just mundane things often helped to flesh
out the mind set of the characters; such as the interaction between the Marines
and the locals, which I found most heart-warming and quite enlightening. The
combat scenes were dark and haunting, punctuated by moments of frantic action;
in other words, realistic and lacking the usual Hollywood
flash bangs, which I found most refreshing.
experience, military fiction writers generally fall among a combination of just
four categories: those who make it up, those who do their research, those who
have served, and those who have been there; in this case I have very
little doubt that the author is among the later.
you’re a fan of David Sherman's science fiction series Starfist and DemonTech,
then you'll find The Junkyard Dogs an eye-opening look into the reality
of one man's experiences of war, and how it helped to fuel the fires of his