The unique structure of Long Daze—alternating the two points of view of the authors inside the chapters—gives the reader great contrast and comparison and is the main strength of this accessible and useful book. Yes, it is funny, but it is much more than that. It is a repository of facts and memories from this long-ago time. There are no clinkers or clunkers in this book. The authors get it right and they make it all interesting. Thanks, guys, for producing the best book about REMF (Rear Echelon) life in South Vietnam during this time period. Nobody will top you any time soon, if ever.
Only the most optimistic of souls could have ever envisioned any part of the experience in the Vietnam War to be the source of anything resembling humor.... yet a new book, "Long Daze at Long Binh," turns that notion on its head. Its structure of short, punchy chapters makes it a great saddlebag book to have along on those long road trips. For Vietnam veterans it may have a special appeal and interest; for everyone else, the book provides a surprising insight into one of the most controversial military actions the U.S. has ever engaged in.
The fact that the authors could find humor— and no small amount of irony— in their experiences shows the resilience of their collective spirit. The book does offer laughs that come from that most unexpected source, but it never loses sight of the serious and often tragic nature of war. They nonetheless manage to thread the needle to bring out the funny things that happened without making light of the often-painful circumstances.
The book's format is as unique as the subject, being set up as a dialogue between co-authors Donovan and Borchardt. This is a fascinating approach and works to the extent that it makes you a part of the conversation. To be sure, the book is earthy in parts, as one would expect from a book about war. Still, the stories that are shared shed new light on a war that for many was a dark time.
This book is not your usual memoir, either in form or in substance. Instead of a narrative, the writing mimics the dynamics of two guys sitting around trading tales. One starts a story, the other picks it up, then the first takes it back and so on. A kind of narrative ping-pong... Some of the stories are touching, many are funny, and some are just interesting from a microcosmic historical point of view. All the way from dealing with the locals to meeting film stars on tour... Since one of the authors is a journalist, the writing is smooth and professional, which makes this an easy read. A low-key but fascinating picture of a historical event.
This is a true to life work of comedy non-fiction... Having recently read a similar account of a journalist in a non-combatant position in Vietnam, I was pleasantly surprised by this light, upbeat and very amusing tale born right out of that same conflict and context... I'm sure readers with similar memories and experiences will agree that Long Daze at Long Binh is a wonderful reminiscence. (5 stars)
Exceptionally well written with the text being presented in 'first Steve, then Fred' format, "Long Daze at Long Binh" is an inherently fascinating and exceptionally informative read replete with wit, a little wisdom, a bit of insight, and a whole lot of information on what the Viet Nam War was like for two side-by-side draftees. A unique and valued contribution to the growing library of Viet Nam War histories and memoirs, "Long Daze at Long Binh" is unreservedly recommended for both community and academic library collections and supplemental studies lists.
If you're a Vietnam veteran like me, "Long Daze at Long Binh" offers you a chance to sit down, drift back in time and take an entertaining, cathartic and therapeutic tour of Vietnam from the comfort and safety of your easy chair. It's a riveting and refreshing account of the amusing adventures and misadventures of two buddies who together survived the draft, the Army and a tour in Vietnam while frequently discovering inventive ways to "beat the system." It's neither pro-war nor anti-war, so regardless of your personal views you should find it hard to put down.
The authors are kindred spirits who look back on it all with a positive attitude not often seen in other publications that dwell on sensationalism. Their down-to-earth, interactive dialogue makes you feel like you've reconnected with a long-lost buddy from 50 years ago. Reading "Long Daze" helped me find some constructive value in those lost years when my civilian life was so rudely put on hold.
I suspect many veterans spent years, as I did, harboring lingering doubts about their participation in that controversial and unpopular war. But after reading about Steve's and Fred's experiences I felt an uplifted sense of reprieve. In an odd way I gained a sense of vindication, realizing that we were only doing our best under extreme circumstances. It was my good fortune to stumble across this witty expose of behind-the-scenes military life in Vietnam, and I give it my full recommendation.
Long Daze at Long Binh is a unique take on the infamous Vietnam war... a memoir like no other... Two young Americans find themselves thrust into the bloody Vietnam war, but fortunately their story is not what many readers would most likely expect... (instead) it's a unique, witty, entertaining and hilarious roller coaster ride as the two friends reminisce about their war experiences while readers are allowed to eavesdrop on them... 5 stars.
Overall I really enjoyed "Long Daze." I like that it was looking at the lighter side of what some personnel went through. This is not making light of war in any way; it's about the day to day stuff that happens in the Army. The book is funny, interesting and sometimes sad...
The authors exhibit a great sense of humor as they were constantly trying to "beat the system" whenever possible. From skipping out on some of their laps in the daily run, to finding a way to help other soldiers with the typing of reports instead of having to fill sandbags all day. The miscommunications with the locals were hilarious (e.g., trying to explain to the women how to use a western toilet when they didn't speak Vietnamese). Along with all the funny anecdotes, there's some very interesting information in the book. It did shine a light on some of what happened during the Vietnam War, and what the medics went through: problems they needed to deal with that I never would have thought of...
If you're looking for a lighter story and want to learn a bit more about the Vietnam war, I'd suggest picking up this book.