There is a name carved into the Vietnam Memorial in Washington, D.C., of an American army lieutenant whose death is shrouded in mystery. The authorities have reason to believe that he was not killed by the enemy or by friendly fire; they suspect he was murdered.
At first, Paul Brenner, himself a Vietnam vet, isn't interested in investigating the case. After his forced retirement from the army's Criminal Investigation Division, he has adapted to the life of a civilian with a comfortable pension. Then his old boss, Karl Hellmann, summons him to the Vietnam Memorial to call in a career's worth of favors.
Hellmann tells Brenner of the circumstances surrounding the officer's death, and gives him this much to go on: The incident happened over three decades ago in Vietnam; the only evidence is a recently discovered letter written by an enemy soldier describing an act of shocking violence.
Brenner's assignment: return to Vietnam and find the witness.
Reluctantly, Brenner begins a strange journey that unearths his own painful memories of Vietnam and leads him down a trail as dangerous as the ones he walked a lifetime ago as a young infantryman. From sultry, sinful Saigon, where he meets beautiful American expatriate Susan Weber, to the remote, forbidding wilderness of up-country Vietnam, he will follow a trail of lies, betrayal, and murder...and uncover an explosive, long-buried secret.
©2002 by Nelson DeMille, Alll Rights Reserved; (P)2002 by Time Warner AudioBooks, a Division of the AOL Time Warner Book Group
"A profound exploration of...war, justice, and...the human heart." (Lisa Scottoline, author of Moment of Truth)
"Finely drawn characters, wickedly crisp dialogue, and brilliant twists...Nelson DeMille [is] the master storyteller of our times." (Linda Fairstein, author of The Deadhouse)
This is really two books in one. A first rate mystery in its own right, it's also a tale of a Viet Nam veteran's cathartic resolution of his experiences. The author is a highly decorated veteran of that war and I suspect the writing was cathartic for him as well. The book is truly superb.
This book has made me a die-hard fan of Nelson Demille. Paul Brenner (the main character) is so much like so many people I know that I immediately found him to be real - he's sarcastic, impatient and a bit of a jerk and I enjoyed his every move. I found myself laughing out loud in many parts and feeling sad in others, emotional responses that make a book worthwhile for me. On top of that, the educational aspect of the story had me mesmerized.
I have listened twice to this novel, thoroughly enjoyed both listens, and was sorry both times when it came to an end. Most books of this length tend to drag too much - this one was the exception.
I served during Vietnam in U. S. Naval Security. I have very mixed feelings about the war. I'm an avid reader and listener, but this is the first book I've read about the Vietnam War. This is because of those personal mixed emotions. I'm very happy I listened to Up Country. It has affected me deeply. And, confirmed to me of the insanity of both Vietnam and the United States during that horrible time that now has become history. I highly recommend this book to anyone. Especially to anyone that lived through that time. It also makes me wonder about the books that will be written 20 or 30 years after the insanity of Iraq. I love my country, and I'm happy that I was of service to it. I would do it again. I just hope that one day we can learn from our mistakes and stop asking that our young men and women live and die through what was shown in this wonderful book.
I'm almost ashamed to admit this, but since I bought this Audible book in 2004, I've listened to it four times before -- and before that, I read it twice. Makes it seems as though I'm either stuck in a rut, or lacking in imagination, but the truth is, this is one of the best fiction books ever written. I never get tired of it. And right now, I'm going through a rough patch -- a death in the family and upheaval all around -- and I needed a book that would hold my attention absolutely, I knew it was time for 'Up Country' again. It never disappoints.
Whoever came up with that old saying, 'if you want to know the truth, you have to read fiction' must have been thinking of "Up Country". For all of us who remember Vietnam, this is the perfect exegesis. I wasn't there myself, but I can still offer a list of friends who went and never came back -- and among those who did come back, who were changed forever.
'Up Country' puts the horror of that senseless war into context, without, believe it or not, being too grim about it. Oh, the book is a thriller, alright, plenty of white knuckle moments, but lots of humorous ones, too.
But maybe the best part -- probably the reason I read it again and again -- is that scattered throughout, are the little bits of pithy commentary and common sense wisdom Nelson DeMille drops in. Like in a Vietnam bar scene, where protagonist Paul Brenner is meeting with the mysterious expat, Susan Weber: Susan has spent the last decade or so in Vietnam, which makes Paul wonder why: Why would someone choose to live outside the US? What's the attraction? And Susan goes on to explain. You'll have to listen to the book to hear what she says, but I can tell you this: Twice in my life I've lived as an expat, first in Mexico back in the mid-1960's, then, for the last dozen years, in Israel. Her explanation -- which is to say DeMille's explanation -- is the best summary I've ever seen as to why any of us do it, what it is in our personalities that makes us choose to live outside the US, and what it is we like about it. What DeMille presents is a phenomenal piece of psychology -- and in this, I know personally that he's right on the mark.
As he is about Vietnam -- the noble goals, the bitterness of frustration, the heartbreaking impacts on everyone involved, American, British, French and most certainly the Vietnamese people themselves. It's a remarkable display of human nature in these pages, with every one of the very diverse characters coming fully alive, believable as is possible.
The narration is superb. This is Scott Brick before he became Scott Brick -- which is to say, his narration here is far superior to that of his more recent books, where -- in my opinion -- he overacts to a fault, imbuing way too many words with far too much meaning. This is a straight reading of the book -- not flat, so that Brenner's one-liners don't hit home, just not so exaggerated as to be annoying.
So this is listen #5 -- even so, I know it won't be the last. This is a great book. Period.
This book is a combination of incredible true information about the Vietnam War and also the personal aspect. Listen to every word. Do not read an abridged version of this. Detail is the finest part of a good book. There is a lot of personal in this book but the end result is the professional end and the reality of today. I will definitely read it again. The pre-book by the author and the end and author info is all part of this very wonderful book. I grew up in the Vietnam Era but was young and stupid and did not learn as much then as I have over the years. I consider this priceless information and a good story.
I don't know what the one reviewer listened to who said the reader was terrible. I thought the reader was great and the story line compelling. I couldn't stop listening to this book, and only wish it went a little further at the end to better wrap up the story. I was a little disappointed with the ending but over-all I loved this book. This is the third book of his that I have listened to and it was well worth the book credit. I also highly recommend The Lion's Game and Night Fall.
What amazing details, Nelson DeMille knows how to reel you in and keep you there. I actually felt like I was in vietnam. As good as the Lion's Game which I thought was riviting
An excellent book. What some people criticized as a "travelogue" is one of the aspects of the book that held my interest every step of the way. In fact, I was constantly going to Google maps to follow Paul Brenner's journey from south to north Vietnam. I lived the Vietnam war years and the historical references brought back vivid memories.
I highly recommend this book. I enjoyed it thoroughly. Even though I figured out an ultimate plot point very early on (it becomes a little obvious) it did not spoil the read for me.
5 stars !!
This book was the last Demille book that I had left to read. I read it last because it is VERY long and about Vietnam, which I anticipated would be a little uninteresting to me. I am, on the other hand, a Demille fan. Although the book is long, I really enjoyed it. Most of the book is filled with memories of the war and tons of descriptives. A review like I have written so far would more than likely turn me away from a book, but let me say again that I really enjoyed the book.
The main charecter is a Vietnam vet who is recruited to return to current day vietnam to investigate a crime committed during the war by Americans. Again, to me that sounds boring...but again, I thought it was good. If you don't have a tolerance for long books, there may be too many descriptives for you to make it all the way through.
I thought the narrator was great! (I have to admit that Scott Brick is one of my favorites and so is Nelson Demille, so them together is a must read to me)
I found this to be one of the best books of his that I read/listened to. Exciting and kept you wondering how it would turn out and right up to the end, you still weren't sure!
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