|Condition||Used - Good|
|Publication Date||January 1974|
Being a historian specializing in America involvement in Vietnam, I tried to take a break in reading nonfiction by delving into Robert Stone's "Dog Soldiers". Seeing Denzil Washington in the recent movie hit "American Gangster" piqued my curiosity in this novel. Besides, I needed a break from constantly reading nonfiction. Reading a novel allows the reader to absorb without constant attention to detail and historical connection. It is also proven to bring up one's reading speed. Thinking topics such as the Vietnam War, the heroin trade that existed during the Vietnam Conflict and CIA complicity in the trade I was expecting an exciting yarn. Regrettably, I was disappointed. I found the characters, in particular "John Converse and his wife, Marge", to be burnt-out losers. You can read other reviews to get an idea of what the plot is about, so without being a "plot-spoiler", I felt that with all the drugged-out corruptness, the infidelity of the protagonist's wife, the illogical decisions made by people bent on profiting by the sale of heroin, this book was a waste of time to read. In trying to get any connection to reality, there was the part early in the story where "Converse", the protagonist, justifies smuggling a couple of kilos from Vietnam into the U.S. by what follows. Stone wrote:"The last moral objection (to smuggling heroin) that Converse experienced in the traditional manner had been his reaction to the Great Elephant Zap of the previous year. That winter, the Military Advisory Command, Vietnam, had decided that elephants were enemy agents bevause the NVA used them to carry things, and there ensued a scene worthy of the Ramayana. Many-armed, hundred-headed MACV had sent forth steel-bodied flying insects (helicopter gunships) to destroy his enemies, the elephants. All over the country, whooping sweating gunners descended from the cloud cover to stampede the herds and mow them down with 7.62 millimeter machine guns. The Great Elephant Zap had been too much and had disgusted everyone. Even the chopper crews who remembered the day as one of insane exhileration had been somewhat appalled. There was a feeling that there were limits. And as for dope, Converse thought, and addicts-if the world is going to contain elephants pursued by flying men, people are just naturally going to want to get high. So there, Converse thought, that's the way it's done. He had confronted a moral objection and overridden it". Obvoiusly, this twisted analogy to justify selling heroin made as little sense to me as the end of the story (what happens to the heroin and the people smuggling it). I need a story that has a semblence of logic, reality and historical connectedness, an attribute I felt "Dog Soldiers" lacked.