Semper Cool: One Marine's Fond Memories of Vietnam

Barry Fixler, Exalt Press (Ingram, dist.) $25.99 (320 p) ISBN 978-0-9825184-0-3
Many Vietnam veterans look back in anger on their wartime experiences, but Fixler, who endured one of the bloodiest battles of the war, isn't one of them. The gruesome 77 days he spent defending an isolated hilltop near the border with North Vietnam forms the core of this nostalgic memoir. Growing up in a predominately middle-class Jewish neighborhood, Fixler was dazzled by his father's stories of WWII and volunteered for Vietnam to earn his respect. As a teen, Fixler got into his fair share of trouble and that cockiness seeps into these pages. Arrival at the Marine Corps' Parris Island boot camp is compared to "being thrown into a Nazi concentration camp." He celebrates his sexual escapades and never sugarcoats the nasty business of war; he'd do "everything again in heartbeat." Yet as wistful as he is about the "discipline" and "camaraderie" of the Corps, he's unrelenting in his scorn for the soldiers who return in psychological pieces, suggesting that soldiers should just get used to killing. Nowhere near the league of We Were Soldiers Once...and Young, Fixler is nonetheless an intriguing, rare bird: a man who survived "hell in the raw" without a trace of trauma—or remorse. (Dec.)
Reviewed on: 01/17/2011
Release date: 12/01/2010
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