Arlen's Gun: A Novel of Men At War
by Edgar Doleman

"It was as if nothing, absolutely nothing, was out there except wind crying in misery and, somewhere below, unseen, invisible bad guys and good guys, hiding in the jungle, cursing the rain."

One of the military's key unspoken commands is "hurry up and wait." Fortunately, readers don't have to wait long at all to get knee-deep in this insightful and engrossing novel of men in the Vietnam War. While countless words have been written about civilians' and politicians' reactions to the war, perhaps not enough has been chronicled about the men who served—what they saw, how they felt, and whether or not they were able to cope. This book does that by putting readers in the air, on the ground, and most of all, in the thick of things.

The plot is built around an airman, Arlen, who serves as a gunner on an AC-47 gunship. He's used to experiencing the war from thousands of feet above the ground. While still life-threatening, the distance between the crew and the enemy often lessens the stark reality of war. However, fate gives Arlen a different perspective when his plane is shot down. The aircraft, damaged beyond repair, cannot be left for the enemy. So while it's to be destroyed, Arlen's weapon—a personnel shredding machine—is salvaged and taken with him by soldiers who come to rescue the crew. Events conspire that keep Arlen and his gun attached to the ground-based unit, but that attachment will have severe consequences.

Author Doleman fills every chapter with an attention to detail that delivers a feeling of absolute authenticity. Equipment, procedures, tactics, and more are depicted with acute precision. Action, suspense, excitement, and the absolute horrors of war are brought to riveting life as an American firebase is overrun, and Arlen is literally in the middle of hell on earth. So too is the reader, which is an experience not likely to be forgotten.

RECOMMENDED by the US Review

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