Rising Like the Tucson

Jeff Danziger, Author Doubleday Books $20 (358p) ISBN 978-0-385-41866-9
Set in 1970 in Vietnam, where Danziger, a syndicated political cartoonist, served as an intelligence officer, this war novel is an uneasy mix of improbable farce and hard-edged realism. Battle-shy translator James Christopher, aka Lt. Kit, knows laughably little Vietnamese and even less about real estate. But his hawkish father, a boor puffed with racist jokes and tales of WW II glory, pushes James to help launch a real estate develoment corporation that will presumably build shopping malls and golf courses in Vietnam once the war is over. Fumbling lame attempts at vitriolic black comedy, Danziger more successfully depicts graphic stories--horrific and bizarre and tragic--about a war winding down. He tells of a U.S. lieutenant who deliberately kills eight of his own men, of a helicopter mission blasting ghost-like taped sounds meant to induce the Viet Cong to surrender, of a major who fights off his homoerotic love for Kit, and of the bungled ``Vietnamization'' program intended to beef up South Vietnamese troops as U.S. ground forces prepare for withdrawal. (Sept.)
Reviewed on: 07/29/1991
Release date: 08/01/1991
Paperback - 372 pages - 978-0-595-09159-1
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