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A Reader of Fictions: Run Through the Jungle by Creedence Clearwater Revival

A Reader of Fictions

Book Reviews for Just About Every Kind of Book

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Run Through the Jungle by Creedence Clearwater Revival

Red Flags:
A Novel of the Vietnam War

Author: Juris Jurjevics
Pages: 320
ARC Acquired from: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt via NetGalley

Brief Summary:
Erik Rider does his best to get away from the past, which is why he is not particularly eager to talk when Celeste Bennett comes to his door. She never met her father and is on a quest to understand something about his life and his death. To do so, she has been seeking the men who were stationed with him in Vietnam. This trail has lead her to Erik, who tells her his story, after a warning that it won't be pretty.

Red Flags hooked me in the opening and then quickly lost me again for quite a while. The premise of the girl wanting to learn about the father she never knew was compelling, particularly given Rider's hesitancy to speak. Knowing all the awful things that occur in any war, and the especially unique and terrible things that transpired in the Vietnam conflict, it set my mind spinning and prepared me for serious drama.

Instead, the novel is not propelled forward by any real plot or constant action. There is some action, of course, but there's also a lot of boredom. Soldiers spend a lot of time standing around or watching for attackers only to have none come. There were also some places where the story seemed to jump awkwardly, which could be due to Rider's own memory of the events. All of this combines to make Red Flags a better novel, I expect, but did not always make it incredibly readable.

What I really liked about Red Flags was that it focused on some elements of the war that I never previously learned much about. For one thing, I never knew about the Montagnards, the tribes in the highlands of Vietnam, and the way they were used by every side. Additionally, I knew quite a bit about the corruption of the South Vietnamese government, but the corruption within the ARVN was completely eye-opening. Some of the stuff they were doing was just...well, awful and dumb. Why would you help the enemy kill your side?

Red Flags is a slow burner, but really makes you think. While not my favorite Vietnam War book, this is a solid read with an interesting focus.

"Better run through the jungle,
Whoa, Don't look back to see."

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