A good story in its own right
A wonderful read, unexpected plot twists, vivid imagery, realistic. I was a twenty year old LT when I went over there, and wrestled with many of the emotional/moral challenges that LT Marwick faced. Wounded brought back memories – sad, bittersweet, some funny. For those who were there, the vignettes will trigger flashbacks to the streets of Saigon, the Donut Dollies, the crazy stunts, the stark contrast between the those in the field & those in the rear echelon; between idealism & pragmatism; the highs, the lows, the incredible beauty of the land and its people, and more better left unsaid. A lot of emotions I hadn’t faced for a while. Still proud of having served. More than just a Vietnam memoir, this is a good story in its own right. Bravo Zulu.
Outstanding Addition to the Body of Fiction about Vietnam
Author and Vietnam veteran Richard Graham wrote Wounded–A Novel Beyond Love and War drawing on his experiences “in country” as a young U.S. Army officer stationed near Saigon between 1969-1970. Wounded is engagingly written, well-paced and plotted, and captures its subject matter with authenticity and power. It is a sterling addition to the canon of Vietnam War fiction. Most Vietnam War books focus on the experience of combat in rice paddies and jungles that is so often also highlighted in movies such as Platoon. Where Wounded diverges from this approach is that it takes as its starting point the experience of the American forces in the rear, in and around Saigon. Like the author, the protagonist of Wounded, Lieutenant Alexander “Sandy” Marwick, is stationed in Saigon as an aide-de-camp to an American Army general. The Saigon headquarters scenes in Wounded effectively capture the change from the early “can-do” optimism of U.S. forces in Vietnam to a post-Tet Offensive attitude laced with considerably more resignation and skepticism, and are some of the best in the book. Graham’s writing is equally effective, and his ear for dialogue unerring, whether he is describing the bureaucratic back-biting of a high-level meeting of American commanders; rowdy young officers watching a scantily-clad Jane Fonda in the movie Barbarella; or scenes in the Officers’ Club as the same young officers jockey for the attention of American female Red Cross Volunteers (known as “Donut Dollies”).
Marwick is ambivalent about his posting; he is savvy enough to appreciate the perks, but struggles with guilt about spending his days catering to a demanding senior officer rather than using his training as an artillery forward observer to help save American lives in the field. Early on in Wounded, Marwick confirms his suspicions that a politically connected stepfather had pulled strings to keep him out of combat, and this discovery propels much of the action in the remainder of the book. Marwick volunteers as a liaison officer in what proves to be the vanguard of the 1970 U.S. Invasion of Cambodia, and the combat scenes, including a gripping description of a North Vietnamese night-time infiltration of an American firebase via tunnel, are tightly and memorably written. An off-the-books diplomatic mission, at the behest of his Washington-insider stepfather, is another opportunity for Marwick (and Graham, the author), to venture beyond Saigon for meetings in an undisclosed location with a high-level Communist Cadre member to sound out a potential American peace proposal. This focus on the opposing North Vietnamese also sets Wounded apart from other Vietnam War novels.
As its title suggests, Wounded is not just a war story, but a love story. The carefree bachelor Marwick falls, and falls hard, for one of the “Donut Dollies,” a married French-Italian-American woman named Clémence-Odile (“Cléo”) Lombardini. The scenes between Marwick and Cléo, including one in which the aftermath of a Viet Cong bombing in Saigon of an American “PX” first brings them together sexually, offer a dramatic but ultimately enriching counterpoint to the rest of the narrative. The importance of the complex relationship between Marwick and Cléo to Marwick’s emotional journey is yet another characteristic of Wounded that distinguishes it from most Vietnam War fiction, and may also attract a broader audience to Richard Graham’s worthy offering.
Lush, visceral, authentic . . .
I practically inhaled this book! A great story, well told. I read a lot of WWII works in order to write my own books with some degree of authenticity, and so I know how infrequently writers of war stories capture the emotions as well as the sound and smell and visceral impact of battle. But in this case the author has managed to do it. The descriptions of Vietnam, Cambodia, and Thailand are wonderfully lush and brought this reader back to her travels in those countries. I could feel the heat and smell the jungle. Thanks for writing such a great story.
Jennifer Clason Coming of Age in Vietnam
In Wounded Richard Graham illuminates what few Vietnam veterans have been able to share, their transformation from the bright, happy boys who left this country for Vietnam into the hard, disillusioned men who returned, all with an abiding mistrust for the institutions of government. The novel has the feel of a roman à clef as few of the soldiers who spent a year of their lives in Vietnam had any contact with young American women while there, just as few were in the zones of protection given to general officers.
Nevertheless, Lt. Alexander Marwick, whether or not the author in disguise, pulls us into his French Indochina experiences, exposing us to the intrinsic beauty of the countries where he traveled to fulfill the almost impossible mission given to him by his entitled step-father, a United States Senator who, along with other high-ranking politicians in this country, treated the Vietnam war and its soldiers as a trifling game. Through Marwick we see the people and the countries of Indochina transformed just as he was by the war, into seared, scarred hardened things.
Wounded combines battle scenes, intrigue, romance and adventure with memorable characters into a compelling story. I purchased several copies of Wounded to give to friends who are Vietnam combat veterans. I hope they like the book as much as I did.
Harry Williams Wounded Worth the Wait
This novel has something for everyone: history, romance, nail-biting drama, espionage, reflection, and more. This is not just another war-fighting book, although there’s plenty of that for the enthusiast. Characters are tested and developed in a variety of circumstances and settings. Cultural variables are explored with a depth that could only be reached through the author’s wide-spread travels through the Asian sub-continent and his careful consideration of his own life experiences in the States, France, and the Army. There’s never a dull moment in Wounded, and the surprises keep on coming right up to the very end.
Janet Hulstrand A Welcome Addition to the Vietnam Reading List
Wounded is a sensitive story about a brutish time in a beautiful part of the world torn apart by war. Drawing on his experiences as an Army lieutenant in Vietnam in 1969-70, Richard Gaines Graham has created a gripping tale of intrigue and frustrated love set in a period of American history that few of us know much about, and about which all of us should learn more. Graham is a graceful, gifted writer and his novel opens a window into this important and still largely unresolved period of our history. Although the time he writes about is a very dark one, the ultimate message of the story is that life offers both the possibility and the reality of understanding, forgiveness, redemption, even after the ugliest things possible have occurred. Time heals all wounds, perhaps not completely, but well enough for life to go on, and for things to get better. I highly recommend this book and am eagerly awaiting Graham’s next novel.
Des Barry A Novel More about Love than War
This is a great read written by an obvious romantic who speaks from personal experience as a young officer in Southeast Asia near the end of the Vietnam war. The plot is not so much about combat as it is about behind the scenes political intrigue in trying to end the war, romantic entanglements and passionate, enduring love. What I particularly like is the level of detail the author gives the reader about what life was like in several different cities in Southeast Asia in the early 1970s while at the same time moving the plot along swiftly. Mr. Graham obviously lived in those cities and experienced first hand the sights, sounds, tastes and smells of that part of the world at that time. His well developed characters, and particularly their dialogue, fit right in with the times and the environment, and the various themes of the novel come together nicely in a moving epilogue. This book only could have been written by someone old enough to reflect on his experiences as a young man in light of all that he has experienced in life since then. I recommend it highly to both men and women readers.
Charles Maiorana Wounded – Thumbs Up
I found Wounded to be a very interesting book to read, and was pleasantly surprised by the unexpected twists that the story takes. The descriptions of the locations around Southeast Asia where the story unfolds seemed very realistic, and it was clear that the author had been there at the time and was writing from first-hand experiences. I also thought that the action sections were not “over the hill” with unrealistic heroism. The underlying and intertwined love stories were poignant and the real focus of the story, and have a satisfying resolution. After reading the book, I agreed with the reviewer who thought it would make a great movie as it has just about the right mix of action and romance.
wolfman Hooked on the First Two Pages
I have long been interested in reading about the Vietnam War. This book gives you a good insight through the eyes of the author, who experienced it first hand. The story grabs you, and won’t let you go until the very end. Don’t start the book if you have to get up early.
John Kiley A Book to be Read More than Once
Good fiction creates memories of people, places, and events we never really knew. Richard Graham’s Wounded passes that test with characters I cared about, situations and places I might have experienced, and a story to believe. As a former artillery officer in Vietnam, I can validate Graham’s storytelling; the road ambush, particularly Marwick’s fear and uncertainty of calling in rounds on his position was real enough to get my heartbeat up a notch or two. If you know what lifers, shake and bakes, and Donut Dollies are, you will slide easily into Graham’s story.
For me Wounded joins a select group of books on the read-again-soon shelf. It’s a great story.
Ortho 1 Multi-faceted Storyline
In the simplest analysis Wounded is a romance novel; but the protagonist has three or four romances and a couple of interludes, so you’re never sure until the end who is the winning suitor. But more than romance, the story is a commentary on political devices, international affairs, cultural differences and dysfunctional families…punctuated with a few battlefield action settings. Is this a complex storyline? For sure!
Richard Graham draws heavily on his own military experience and subsequent travels throughout Southeast Asia to weave this adventure together with brilliant balance. Scenes and emotions are realistically descriptive. The style is compelling. The history and the fiction are hard to differentiate.
Identify with any of these characters in Wounded and enjoy a piece of recent American history in a really personal way.
Ben Ritter Love, Adventure, Danger, and Mystery
Wounded is a tragic and romantic adventure story that traces the military career and wild love life of a young officer in Vietnam. As other reviewers have noted, this is a novel different from many other popular accounts of the war. Wounded takes the reader into the realm where life and death death decisions were made, into the offices of high-powered government officials, intelligence officers and shadowy drug cartel chiefs. But between this political intrigue and evocative descriptions of the cities and countryside of Southeast Asia, Wounded intersperses tense battle scenes and romantic liaisons that will make the reader’s heart pound. Love, adventure, danger and mystery: Wounded has it all.
Patricia Moore Love and War
Wounded is a terrific read! It is an engrossing story which reminds us of the myriad of feelings which were so outspoken during the years of war in Vietnam. The beauty of the country and the strength of the population serve as backdrop for the vivid action scenes. The developing romance of Marwick and Cleo comes alive during the intense conflict in Southeast Asia. The complexity of their relationship intertwines with the action scenes which are exciting as well as authentic. The author was himself an officer in the army in Vietnam, and so he writes in detail with a sense of authenticity, poignancy, and excitement. Hilarious interpersonal descriptions balance the raw verve of the combat scenes and the passion of the lovers. Many years pass before the conclusion of the novel, and there is an unexpected emotional twist to the story which is told with loving and mature sensitivity. Indeed, this book would be a wonderful movie.
Terrin Haley Legacy of War
WOUNDED presents the war in Vietnam from the viewpoint of Lieutenant Alexander Marwick, a callow, young Army officer, who unlike his classmates in combat units, finds himself assigned as an aide-de-camp to a general officer at a large, rear echelon military base near Saigon. There he befriends two American civilian females, Red Cross Doughnut Dollies. Later a former Vietnamese lover reenters Marwick’s life as well. Events transform the present and future lives of these women as the plot unfolds, and by the end of the story the reader has traveled with Marwick from Vietnam to Thailand, to Burma, to Cambodia, and finally to India. And by the book’s conclusion the protagonist has become a far more attractive human being, seasoned by combat, death, and love.
The novel is gracefully, fluently, and intelligently written, and the author captures especially well the intense moments, such as the rocket attack in Saigon and later at the Khmer Rouge road block in Cambodia. The thoughts, emotions, and mental stress felt by a young untried officer when calling in his first artillery strike are visceral and movingly described.
Graham, in this first novel, does an excellent job of depicting Marwick’s personal growth during the course of his service in Vietnam and later during a fateful diplomatic mission. He is perhaps more compelling with his male character sketches than with the female ones – his stepfather, the U.S. senator, and his best friend from artillery school, killed early in the novel.
WOUNDED is most definitely a worthwhile read, touching as it does on aspects of the Vietnam war that have not been fully explored in fiction to date, such as the role played by female civilians or a view of the war from the top down rather than from the foxhole up. It is at once a love story, an adventure story, a war story, and an account of hard-won adulthood achieved only after being wounded.
paronin A Different Side of the Vietnam War
Wounded in not your typical Vietnam story. It is a fascinating read, a story with the Vietnam War as a backdrop, but less about the war itself than a story about the effect that war had on the lives of the young people of the 60′s who were called to serve. This isn’t an Oliver Stone type of war story. Nor is it a polemic on the justifications for or against the war. It is an adventure love story that juxtaposes the horrors of war and political intrigue with the pain of frustrated love and relationship entanglements. Lt. Marwick spends his tour in Vietnam as an aide-de-camp to an irascible general away from the front lines. While he is unhappy with the assignment, he recognizes the relative safety it provides. Unlike many other college grads at the time that would have happily pulled strings to land such a position, Marwick just considers it the luck of the draw – until he learns that family strings were indeed pulled to insure his safety. A sense of guilt and need to prove himself gets him pulled into a diplomatic mission that carries with it far more danger than his Vietnam tour had provided. Intertwined with it all Graham poignantly portrays the love stories which are the heart of this novel. He does a terrific job at developing the relationships that allow Marwick’s character to mature. Perhaps because the story is based on his own experiences, this is not an “and they all lived happily ever after” love tale. There are surprising twists and unpleasant endings to many of the characters he paints for us. Yet we are drawn into the story and watch as despite having ample reason for cynicism, Marwick grows from an idealistic young man into a loving responsible adult. Graham also portrays something that few Vietnam novels discuss – the Donut Dollies – those female college grads who volunteered to go and serve their country by bringing a little bit of home to the young fighting men. While others were back on campuses protesting the war, these idealistic women made sacrifices that also changed their lives forever. They put their lives on the line, and yet they are barely mentioned in most Vietnam War stories. Graham beautifully depicts them and makes us realize how youth was forever impacted by the time spent in this beautiful but treacherous part of the world.
Margaret E. Meyers (author of Swimming in the Congo) Love, Loss, and Regeneration
I defy anyone to stop reading this novel after the first two breathtaking paragraphs. One is swept into a strange and beautifully described sensory world, a world filled with the debris and chaos of the Vietnam War. And at this point the reader has yet to meet the novel’s raison d’etre: First Lieutenant Alexander Marwick! Over the course of this novel the reader learns a deep affection and concern for this young, idealistic protagonist. Learns to worry about his physical safety as he takes on a quixotic diplomatic mission that sends him all over Southeast Asia. Learns, also, to fret over his state of mind and heart as he falls profoundly in love with a woman already committed elsewhere. And learns, ultimately, to admire young Alexander Marwick’s ongoing efforts to function in a principled fashion in a context of urgency in which every moment could be his last.
Although Wounded is an engrossing novel of war, it has playful, joyful moments; Marwick and his friends are, after all, young and high-spirited people given to pranks, jokes, flirting, and delightfully bad poetry. If you want to read a Vietnam novel with a difference — a sense of humor as well as horror, an awareness of the force of love as well as the force of hate and conflict — Wounded is for you.
Suzanne Plasseraud Une Aventure de Vie et de Guerre en Extrême-Orient.
Wounded, de Richard Gaines Graham, est le roman d’une histoire très attachante et captivante. Il s’adresse à des lecteurs d’intérêts fort variés, notamment les passionnés de l’Extrême-Orient, de la guerre du Viet-Nam, de militaria, de romans d’espionnage et d’intrigues politiques. Plus généralement, des questionnements sur la loyauté, l’amitié, l’amour et la construction identitaire donnent au récit une dimension supplémentaire.
Après son service militaire au Viet-Nam, le personnage principal de Wounded, Alexander Marwick, un jeune lieutenant américain, est envoyé dans une longue aventure au début des années 1970, dans divers pays de l’Extrême-Orient dont l’auteur semble avoir une connaissance précise. Une vingtaine d’années plus tard, l’intrigue se poursuit aux Etats-Unis où l’on retrouve le personnage, alors en pleine maturité. Trois personnages féminins, aux personnalités fort contrastées, jouent un rôle important tandis que les détails de la vie militaire, les descriptions géographiques viennent donner corps à l’intrigue. Mais surtout chaque scène est rendue parfaitement par l’évocation des senteurs, des couleurs, des sons. Ce roman fait appel à tous les sens du lecteur avec souvent une touche de réelle sensualité. Pour moi, il est clair que ce serait la trame parfaite pour un film d’action et d’atmosphère.
La seconde partie du récit fait place à un véritable suspense sans cesse renouvelé par les rebondissements de l’action. Les personnages prennent alors leur pleine dimension lorsqu’ils affrontent des situations matérielles et psychologiques particulièrement difficiles. Le style le plus souvent classique, hormis quelques dialogues argotiques, sert le récit par son équilibre entre dialogues et descriptions, le tout avec une richesse de vocabulaire appréciable.