The Second War

G. C. Hendricks, Author
G. C. Hendricks, Author Viking Books $17.95 (208p) ISBN 978-0-670-83018-3
Reviewed on: 03/31/1990
Release date: 04/01/1990
Hendricks's first novel is a vivid and powerful account of a marine jet pilot's delayed nervous breakdown upon returning home to the U.S. from North Vietnam. The story is told in terse but occasionally wistful or humorous vignettes tracing the boyhood, youth and maturation of Horace ``Truck'' Hardy, a preacher's son from the North Carolina countryside. Unlike many other Vietnam-era books, this account offers literary strengths along with graphic adventure: the state of Truck's mind occupies the imagination of the author, himself a former fighter pilot who served in Vietnam. After flying more than 200 missions, whose taut technical details enhance the narrative's immediacy, Truck is shot down behind enemy lines. The destruction of Truck's sanity--initiated in his isolation and paranoia in the North Vietnamese jungle and exacerbated by the crippling bitterness and isolation he suffers on his failed North Carolina homestead (his wife leaves, taking their child)--is gripping in its inexorability, impressive in its deceptively simple presentation. His lingering questions (about loyalty, hypocrisy and the power of drugs on a highly-strung mind) retain their full complexity to the end of this intense, engrossing novel. (Apr.)
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