William Lewis has written a very solid novel with The Year of the Monkey. It is set in the backdrop of early 1968 before the Tet Offensive and features the usual list of Vietnam War story characters: The veteran who gets returned to the front after have tasted life again back home. The undercover government aid program worker who is really working for the CIA on a counter insurgency project. A savvy, knowing war correspondent who has none of the markings of a professional journalistic license but rather goes by intuition, his nose for news. And then there’s the mole. The Vietnamese barber who seems like the simple, steady servant yet is actually the highest ranking Viet Cong member in the province.
With all of this set in motion William Lewis weaves and interesting tale of cat and mouse which ends very tragically. His story is a euphemism for the intractable fruitlessness of the Vietnam War. Once the war was over neither country was the better for it but there were only the stories to tell. Yet Lewis’s story didn’t have winners; they all negated one another’s gains. There were no real heroes; only anti-heroes. So William Lewis left The Year of the Monkey in the end to be told by the one natural observer: the journalist.
If you like novels of action and war then I believe you will like this book. I wouldn’t look for much new from the book in terms of understanding the tragedy but the author does have a good, tough style of storytelling that will definitely appeal to military literature enthusiasts.
The above review was contributed by: Gary Dale Cearley: Gary Dale is an expatriate American who chooses to write about controversial material. His subject matter tends to run the gamut from historical subjects to biography and even humor. Originally from Arkansas, he has spent several years in Korea as well as Vietnam and is now living in Thailand. Click Here to read an interview with Gary. Click Here to read Gary's reviews.
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