What others have said about Unfortunate Sons:|
James writes "Can words really express what it is like?" From the chills I got reading many passages I think he has expressed it. How could anyone not be moved by passages such as: "As Delta Company moved they expected the worst and that is what they saw; a hand clutching a blood-stained family photo, another holding a miniature copy of The New Testament. Then there were the small groups of bodies, where it seems that some had crawled together. Was it to treat a comrade or was it just to be with a friend and not alone? It was not possible to say."
That is stunning.
Illogical as it sounds, Unfortunate Sons manages to be both intense and understated.
This book is a beautiful tribute to some eminently deserving young men.
Voice of America
I was deeply touched by the telling of a story that was 36 years in the making. It is more than just the story of the men of Charlie Company. It is the story of all young American men who fought and died there, or who were otherwise forever changed.
To America's "clerks and jerks" and the rest of us who somehow managed to take a pass on the fighting, the story depicts a parallel existence which at the time some of us, perhaps all too dismissively, could never really imagine. Nor to those who were willing to listen, could you even begin to explain how bad it was there. Nor could we really understand. Until now.
Here's some of why I like the book: To a reader, its various sections are well-organized, well-researched, authoritative. The history leading up to American involvement blends nicely into a skillful chronology of events at a really excellent pace, intensifying all the way through the first ten chapters. The profiles of members of Charlie Company work to personalize their later sacrifices on the bridge, and permit us to intrude into those horrifying events in carefully reconstructed detail but to no less poignant effect. Here and in later interviews, James avoids the temptation to sentimentalize but rather let the facts speak for themselves. Whether intended or not, one finishes the book in tears, loving the men of Charlie company (and cursing all wars). "Well done!"
I've read a lot of books about Viet Nam. Most aren't very good. This one is. The author writes well, reseaches in depth and tells a compelling, true story. The complexity of war is matched with the human condition. The leaders care about their side winning. The unfortunate son's are their willing pawns. So sad, but so real. A story played out daily, with a different set and other actors in the various roles.
COL U.S. Army (RET)