This is not another collection of macho battle-action war adventures. Rather, this is a reflective look at the Vietnam War from a distance of nearly 40 years, showing the many ways the tentacles of the war reached laterally through society and longitudinally through time to affect the lives of the soldiers, their families and their friends. These stories are from the emotional war and deal with such themes as going into war, injuries, loss, guilt and innocence, and homecomings. Many of the stories are written in the voices of soldiers, and McGowan notes that in his experience soldiers did a good bit of cussing, and so some of the stories presented may contain language not suitable for everyone.
John Whisler has been on the faculty of Booth Library since 1981, serving most of that time as head of cataloging services. “My own Vietnam experience, like that of many of us, was limited to the nightly news. The war was an event happening somewhere else to people I didn’t know — an abstraction. With these stories, McGowan has brought that major event of the 1960s, which for decades I thought I’d escaped, into vivid personal focus.”