Reviews and Comments-2 cont'd
For Bob Cannon, a busy, ambitious young watch commander, the decisions are different. He is not lying in a hut in the jungle nor is he in debate stateside about the justness of the war, as is his fiancé. He is supporting air strikes against 15,000 North Vietnamese Army (NVA) regulars who have encircled 7,000 Marines holding high ground in and around Khe Sanh, a key resupply route for the North Vietnamese. He decides his focus has to be on saving comrades who are in harm’s way while holding on to his reservations.
Mr. Partel deftly draws two grizzled ship senior officer warriors, veterans of World War II and Korea and long past spiritual debate. They want to save U.S. lives and to smite their enemy. Mr. Partel offers us a counterpoint in Capt. Ogilvy Osborne, every bit as grizzled a combat warrior but who came out of the Chosin Reservoir nightmare in Korea with a different idea and became a chaplain ministering to troops in harm’s way.
Of particular value to this reader was a heightened sense of understanding that Mr. Partel’s characters provide about what the hell really happened during Vietnam, which for many Americans was and remains a welter of overload — images and stories of events in the war without texture or understanding.
Now, Mr. Partel is a Navy man. He went on to become a successful New York banker, but he is a shipshape, squared-away guy. That’s where he lives, so to speak. But in three historical naval novels about the Vietnam era, he has shown an ability to write books that humanize the experience and provide greater understanding of the 1960s cauldron.