BY DUTY BOUND: Survival and Redemption in a Time of War

Ezell Ware, Jr., Author, Joel Engel, Author, Jr. (Ca Ret ). Ware, Author . Dutton $23.95 (336p) ISBN 978-0-525-94861-2

A self-proclaimed military "lifer" and one of the few black pilots with the army's 61st Helicopter Assault Company, retired California National Guard General Ware Jr. has an intriguing story to tell, and with journalist Engel he has produced a mostly compelling autobiography. Well-observed accounts of growing up poor and black in 1950s rural Mississippi and of Ware's eventful, combat-heavy first tour in Vietnam are matched by a stirring recounting of the three weeks Ware and another army helicopter pilot spent evading the enemy in the jungles after being shot down. Chronological chapters alternate with short, first-person interludes sketching those hellish weeks Ware spent avoiding the enemy and nearly starving to death. Adding to the drama: Ware discovered that his fellow pilot—who suffered a severe leg wound in the helicopter crash—was a card-carrying member of the Ku Klux Klan. Less revealing and less interesting are Ware's by-the-numbers chapters on his army training, including flight school, further hindered by poorly reconstructed dialogue. Also in the minus category is Ware's political analysis; if the United States hadn't intervened in Vietnam "the imperial communist powers" would "have continued to grab countries." But anyone with a taste for life behind the lines will want this book. (Mar. 7)

Reviewed on: 02/07/2005
Release date: 03/01/2005
Genre: Nonfiction
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