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365 Days by Ronald J. Glasser M.D.

Jacket: Paperback
Pages: 292 pages
Publisher: George Braziller Inc (September 1, 1980)
Genre: Military
ISBN: 0807609951

Comments about the author: Dr. Glasser was a U.S. Army doctor in Japan in 1968. He is a Minneapolis pediatrician and the author of several books, among them Ward 402 and The Light in the Skull.


Review: Dr. Glasser’s story is different from your typical Vietnam story. Far too often in war stories one reads about heroes doing amazing acts while defeating the evil enemy. In reality, war, and especially Vietnam, isn’t about medals or glory. It is an unscripted journey towards the ultimate prize, survival or the opposite, pain and death. 365 Days is a cleverly written description of some individual’s experiences in the war in Vietnam. He weaves a tale that links many seemingly unrelated segments into a well-crafted piece of Vietnam literature as evidenced by this reviewer receiving a copy of the 15th paperback edition.

Several small things add up to make this a memorable book. The VC and NVA remain faceless and nameless, just as they were for most Americans fighting them. Example, if you served 10 months 5 days, even if that time was in the hospital, you completed a tour of duty in Vietnam. If you served even one day less, and were shipped back to the States for other duty, you weren’t credited with a tour in Vietnam and were eligible and even expected to return for an entire 12-month tour.

This work starts and concludes in a U.S. Army hospital in Japan with medical stories about wounded bodies and those that try to heal them. It’s sections include: a few about the emotional stress on nurses and medics; the psychological trauma of battle; a couple concerning the professional career soldiers (officer and NCO lifers) and their interaction with a unconventional war and the American draftees that were fighting it. Other topics cover the elite troops and the track troopers of tanks and APCs; the men manning the far flung outposts; and the highly trained elite soldiers.

Dr. Glasser, an Army doctor assigned to a hospital in Japan in 1968, saw the aftermath of battle firsthand – especially the physical and mental damage to its participants. He makes no secret of his belief that the veterans (men and women) of this war experienced a struggle full of brutality and horror. Yet, this reviewer would not call it anti-war, just one with a different perspective. Robert Mason’s Chickenhawk or Franklin Miller’s Reflections of a Warrior are all more brutal.

— Reviewed by: Scott R. DiMarco
dimarcosr@hccc.suny.edu

 
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