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Sunday, August 28, 2011
Where There Were No Innocents by Thomas Drinkard
This novel offers an officer's perspective on SOG during US involvement in Vietnam. I understand this is a prequel to another book, but this was my introduction to the author and character.
Mack Brinson is the type of officer every good soldier wishes was in charge. Though his duties in MACV-SOG seem rather nebulous, he voluntarily tags along with SOG teams that go behind the fence, and earns enough respect to be invited to the one-zero table more than once after a mission.
No Innocents provides a fascinating glimpse into the pseudo-secret SOG command structure, administration, and even some operations. It overlaps nicely with Jack Murphy's PROMIS Vietnam, which was written from the perspective of a one-zero, or SOG team leader.
After his tour begins, Brinson is targeted almost immediately by VC assassins, and has numerous close calls. The reason for his targeting really struck me as plausible, too. In fact, though I'm at least a generation too young to have ever been to Vietnam, most of this book smacked of authenticacy, thanks to the author's experience in-country. Especially the geography and character interaction...with one exception.
That exception is Brinson's whirlwind relationship with the beautiful Song. I know love-at-first-sight does happen, so it's not that that bothers me, really. But these two decide to get married after one date. I know that happens, too, especially during wartime. I just think, story-wise, it could have been milked for a lot more suspense/conflict. Some suspense did get added to the mix by way of Song's father--an influential man in South Vietnam's intelligence organization, though.
In any event, the guts of this novel is SOG's part in the war up to and including the Tet Offensive, and it was presented so well as to outweigh my issues with the romantic subplot.