American Blood

John Nichols, Author Henry Holt & Company $17.95 (0p) ISBN 978-0-8050-0374-1
With the cynical conviction that his purpose as a grunt in Vietnam was ""to mutilate people and landscape as thoroughly and as horribly as possible,'' Michael Smith returns to the U.S. a sociopath, unable to shuck off his murderous state of mind. Nichols (The Magic Journey has written a straightforward and jitters-inducing account of the seemingly permanent effects of war upon the character and future life of a veteran whose terrible memories charge him with a desire to murder and humiliate again. A significant addition to the literature on the Vietnam conflict, the novel approaches a moving serenity with Smith's unexpected progress toward adjustment and love in a New Mexican town. At that midway point, however, the narrative goes awry. Its propelling madness gone, it expresses renewed outrage without convincing spirit, since Nichols cannot add more wisdom about violence, grief, revenge and redemption to what has already been said. It's an unfortunate loss of purpose, for the book's first half is a tour de force. (April 29)
Reviewed on: 03/31/1987
Release date: 04/01/1987
Mass Market Paperbound - 978-0-345-35398-6
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