Distant Valor

C. X. Moreau, Author Forge $23.95 (0p) ISBN 978-0-312-85941-1
The much-publicized 1983 truck bombing of the Marine barracks in Beirut forms the climax of this first novel by a former Marine NCO who was there. Moreau pits 25-year-old Sgt. David Griffin, a seven-year veteran enlistee, in a struggle of will and conscience against one Cpl. Steven Downs. Griffin longs to prove himself to the previous generation of Marines who spilled blood in Vietnam, while Downs seems to be a standard-issue college type--although he, too, is trying to define himself and break free of his own past. Both young men are chafing under the rules of engagement, an elaborate and oppressive code of conduct governing all Marines serving in Lebanon; the rules' enforcer, a vindictive first sergeant, is determined to find grounds to court martial both Griffin and Downs. A series of increasingly catastrophic situations--from a grenade ambush to a car bombing of the American Embassy to the struggle for possession of a Lebanese hill--lead to the dramatic final scene at the Battalion Landing Team Headquarters unit, which sees the death of almost 300 Marines. In the midst of all this conflict, Griffin and Downs unite to face a military inquiry. Moreau uses the building block of authentic detail to craft a solid tale about a little-known, undeclared war. Despite its unnecessarily sentimental epilogue, his debut should attract readers seeking to understand how the U.S. military is waging peace in the Middle East. A glossary provides a handy reference guide to military terms and acronyms. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 03/01/1999
Release date: 03/01/1999
Genre: Fiction
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