PROMISES TO THE FALLEN
A Vietnam War Novel by Glyn Haynie
In the jungles of Vietnam, innocence is the first casualty of war…
Nineteen-year-old Eddie Henderson is a private in the U.S. Army. His parents are deceased, and he has no one in his life except his platoon brothers—Porter, Rocky, and Professor. His fellow soldiers are his family now. But none share a bond as close as he and his best friend, team leader Mitch Drexler.
In the heat and jungles of Vietnam, each man does the best he can to survive. Battles are fought, friends lost, and promises made to the fallen. But when the enemy fatally wounds a platoon brother in a deadly attack, the dying soldier makes Eddie promise to fulfill a final vow… A debt of blood that could change the course of his life forever.
When Eddie and his friends’ tours are over, they return home to a world they barely remember. But Eddie is still trapped in the past. He has no family, no home to go back to. Just a nightmare he lives over and over again. A dark vow he made to a dying friend. And one question, burning in his mind…
Will he keep his promise to his friend? No matter the cost?
My thoughts …
While I served in the U.S. Army several years after the war in Vietnam ended (from 79 to 83), I have always been fascinated by the Vietnam War. I certainly saw enough on the news to be curious about what it must have been like, and this has led me to read a great deal on the subject. Add to this the fact that, later in life, I had a few good friends who were Vietnam veterans, and who would occasionally share snippets of their experiences during the war, which only served to increase my desire to try and understand the background and circumstances.
I have read all four of Glyn Haynie’s books. Each one has been excellent and a real pleasure to read. While the first three were memoirs, Promises to the Fallen was Haynie’s first foray into the world of fiction. It did not disappoint.
This novel is an incredible read! Haynie puts you right in the middle of the Vietnamese jungles, the smells, the mud, the villages, the people, and their rice paddies. It is almost like you are there, and with those young men who find themselves in another world, an insane world full of danger, death, fear, courage, loyalty, and sacrifice. It is also a world of hope and hopelessness, where you can’t tell your enemies from your friends, and you anxiously count the days, hoping you survive until you get to go home.
The author draws on his own experiences in Vietnam and in close infantry combat to make this book one heck of a page-turner. And, for those of us who have served in the U.S. military, whether it was during the Vietnam War, other conflicts, or even during peacetime, Haynie’s narrative will bring to mind memories and experiences of your time in the service of your country.
To those who haven’t served, this novel may help you to understand why those who serve in the military are the way they are … their pride in their service, this country, and its flag. And yes, even its problems and shortcomings.
The bond of brotherhood that exists between those who have served together is a real bond that stands the test of time. When you cut through all the hyperbole, it is really about the man (or woman) in the foxhole next to you. While politicians, the media, and Hollywood love to talk about defending our country, baseball, apple pie, etc., it is really about defending your buddy while he or she defends you.
I found Promises to the Fallen extremely difficult to put down. It took me through a broad range of emotional responses as it laid bare the authentic, unadulterated experience of the American soldier in Vietnam; the good, the bad, and even the ugly. I highly recommend this book to all.
Now, on to Leora’s Letters by Joy Neal Kidney, another book I have been anxious to read! What great books have you read this winter?