If I Die In a Combat Zone

5 CDs. retail ed. unabridged. 6 hrs. Tantor Audio. 2012. ISBN 9781452610795. $29.99; 5 CDs. library ed.; 1 MP3-CD. library/retail eds.; Playaway digital; digital download. MEMOIR
OrangeReviewStarO'Brien's memoir of his days as a U.S. Army foot soldier fighting in Vietnam was released in 1973, although some segments were published while he was still enlisted. Although he recaps his own experiences, O'Brien speaks for legions of soldiers before and since as he discusses his small-town U.S. upbringing in a society that regarded combat as a male ritual that tested bravery and instilled character. He questions those traditions when recalling his induction and training, his detailed plan to go AWOL to Sweden, and his year of service as an infantry grunt humping it through Nam (the plethora of soldierspeak lends authenticity.) The memoir is peopled with both the career soldiers and short-timers he encountered during his tour of duty; some survived, others did not. Ultimately, he ponders the nature of courage and war and the morality of fighting when one does not believe in the cause. Narrator Dan Jon Miller's youthful voice is a perfect match for the material; O'Brien discusses the book in a brief bonus Q&A.
VERDICT O'Brien's powerful memoir remains highly relevant and should be standard issue to all military personnel and their families. Highly recommended.

Be the first reader to comment.

Comment Policy:
  • Be respectful, and do not attack the author, people mentioned in the article, or other commenters. Take on the idea, not the messenger.
  • Don't use obscene, profane, or vulgar language.
  • Stay on point. Comments that stray from the topic at hand may be deleted.
  • Comments may be republished in print, online, or other forms of media.
  • If you see something objectionable, please let us know. Once a comment has been flagged, a staff member will investigate.


Community matters. Stay up to date on breaking news, trends, reviews, and more.

Get access to 8000+ annual reviews of books, ebooks, and more

As low as $13.50/month