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5.0 out of 5 starsVietnam Veteran, 1969
Reviewed in the United States on April 4, 2020
As a Vietnam Veteran, I thought this book was very good, i would recommend it to anyone. Another book i would recommend is one by, James Paul Lott, the title is, One R.E.M.F.s Tour Of Duty in Vietnam. It tells about the other side of Vietnam that few people knows about,it’s a five star book.
I read this book when it first came out in the 80's, liked it then and having reread it, like it even more now. I will have to admit that I know the author, but if I didn't like the book, I wouldn't write a bad review, I just wouldn't write anything.
I think this is a F&^%*# Good Book. First person is tough to make work for an entire novel, and Don's editor/publisher tried to have him abandon it until they read further into the book. It is a straight forward and honest novel with truth on every page. It is not a political tract which only increases both its truth and honesty.
One thing I especially like are Don's metaphors. They are wonderfully descriptive and within the voice of a house painter/draftee. They help make the strangness of war part of the reader's everyday as it became so for the protagonist, Gabe. The new introductory story is of a piece with the original book, and I hope Don works this story into another novel.
If you haven't yet, buy and read this book, but even if you bought and read it before, do it again. You'll thank me for the suggestion.
5.0 out of 5 starsEXCELLENT VIETNAM WAR NOVEL WITH TIMELY TWIST
Reviewed in the United States on June 14, 2008
Donald Bodey's Vietnam War novel F.N.G. is a powerful, engaging story about one man's tour of duty. While many Vietnam Veterans have come forward in recent years to tell their stories, Bodey chose not to write an autobiographical account, but specifically, a novel based on his experiences. While few ex-soldiers could masterfully write a novel of war, Bodey's skill has created for the Vietnam War what Erich Maria Remarque accomplished for World War I in All Quiet on the Western Front.
At the center of Bodey's novel is Gabriel Saunders, the "F.N.G." (F---g New Guy). Gabriel has been drafted into the army, and when he arrives in Vietnam, he is scared and unsure of himself. To make matters worse, he has the horrendous experience of seeing his newly made friend killed before his eyes the first day he arrives. From there, the reader is taken through Gabriel's tour of duty over the course of a year as he matures as a soldier, going from being the new guy to the leader of his squad. Vietnam soldiers were transitioned in and out of their units, rather than all arriving together, so as new soldiers came in, old soldiers left, thereby continually rotating so the squad always had some seasoned soldiers and some FNG's. The effect of this rotation is new soldiers having more experienced ones to learn from, but it also means seasoned soldiers are the envy of new ones. Bodey emphasizes the psychological weight of their remaining time on the soldiers, who always knew to the day how much time they had left, and how they pondered their chances of surviving a certain number of days.
This 2007 publication of F.N.G. is Loving Healing Press's revised and expanded version of the original 1987 novel. The revised edition's major change is the immensely effective opening chapter of the novel, set in the present day during the War in Iraq. In this chapter, Gabriel, returned from Vietnam for over thirty years, is going hunting with his grandson, Seth. Gabriel is angry that his grandson will soon be leaving to serve in Iraq. Gabriel knows war's horrors and does not want Seth to have the same traumatic experiences. Unknown to Seth, Gabriel is contemplating shooting his grandson--just enough to wound him so he cannot be sent to Iraq. Gabriel would rather see his grandson limp the rest of his life than suffer the far greater psychological and physical hell of war. That a man would intentionally hurt his grandson as a way to protect him is far more than a clever plot device. It makes readers consider whether in Gabriel's shoes, having undergone his own war experiences, they would not do the same to protect a loved one.
I will not spoil the story by revealing whether Gabriel goes through with injuring his grandson, but after reading the rest of the novel, Gabriel's motivations are clearly understood. While F.N.G. does not have much of a plot, its strength lies in its descriptive, realistic character depictions. The details of a soldier's life are presented with gritty realism intermixed with humor. The reader comes away with a real sense of the camaraderie so vital for survival among soldiers. The novel's dramatic conclusion provides a strong example of how war affects a soldier. While post-traumatic stress disorder is a term well known today, few authors have portrayed it so effectively; Gabriel comes to realize something has changed within him, something he cannot yet define but which he knows will haunt him. Donald Bodey, himself a Vietnam soldier, has captured his personal experiences in fiction, never seeking to be sensational or sentimental, but rather to depict the Vietnam War realistically. The author [...] provides additional information about F.N.G., including a glossary of Vietnam War terms.
F.N.G. is a book everyone would benefit from reading, especially families of military men and women, so they will understand what their loved ones go through. Members of the US military and US government should also read it to understand what happens to those the government sends to war, especially wars where it is questionable whether the United States should be involved. Very few war novels would receive such a recommendation from me.
- Tyler R. Tichelaar, Ph.D. author of The Marquette Trilogy
4.0 out of 5 starsF.N.G. - Everybody's Gunning for the New Guy
Reviewed in the United States on February 17, 2010
F.N.G. - Everybody's "Gunning" for the New Guy Review by Beverly Pechin for Reader Views
F.N.G. is one of those books that you're expecting one thing and are handed an entirely different, more intriguing, more intense experience. I've always been intrigued with the Vietnam War itself and sort of have a standard of expectation when it comes to books regarding the experience. Most are raw and somewhat intense in the sense that they bring an inner, personal experience to the surface; allowing the author to break free of the many reigns they've held for so many years. F.N.G. is raw, real and amazing but it's simply put, not typical of those autobiographies you seem to find regarding the war or the bland "news" viewpoints that many put out there.
The author, Donald Bodey, is a Vietnam Vet himself but his writings aren't typically "autobiographic", yet completely experience based & real. Bodey has a way of taking an experience that many of us today are clueless about and bringing it full face into a realistic view. Using a metaphoric writing style, he brings the reality of war & the experiences between men into today's world with comparisons of "real world" and "real people" circumstances.
Bodey grabs his audience immediately with an encounter between a man and his grandson that makes you wonder how or what this man is doing. Having experienced war himself, Grandfather & Vietnam Vet, Gabriel sees his grandson being pulled into the same direction as he's signed to go into the armed forces to serve in Iraq. As he takes his grandson out for a "hunting trip" he has a brief talk with God before he shoots his grandson, Seth, making readers wonder what this man is thinking. As the story unfolds and Gabriel's experiences in life and war unfold, you begin to realize and even sympathize with the man's reasoning. While I had a hard time thinking in terms of "why you would shoot someone you love", as I began to read the life and times of Gabriel himself I began to understand the entire idea of wanting to be sure someone you love with all your heart doesn't have to experience the same horrors and life changing experiences you, yourself, have experienced & may go to any lengths to keep them from having to do so.
Intense & hearty, the storyline is beefed up with the deep camaraderie and experiences Bodey portrays in his novel. Bringing war to the real world isn't as easy as it may seem and making one's heart ache with the characters is a talent that some simply do not have;Bodey not only has this talent but shares it well in his novel, F.N.G., with his readers. If you're looking for a book filled with an intense accounting of the Vietnam War and those involved, this book is one that should top your list of "must reads".