Augie’s War by John H. Brown

Reviewed by Allen Hott

Pretty interesting story about Augie Compton who though he is in Vietnam seems to spend a lot of “thinking” time about his life back in Riverview, West Virginia. As the days and weeks go by away from home he continues to go back in his mind to his very close Italian family and his adventures growing up while working part time in his grandfather’s bakery. Those “lookbacks” do a lot for developing this story and keep it moving. Anyone who has spent time not only in the military but also out of the United States while in the service knows how often the reminiscing goes on in the mind.

Augie lucked out in many ways when after graduating from college with a Bachelor’s degree in English Literature. First off he was quickly drafted into the Army. Because of his background, however, after basic training he was assigned to Advanced Individual Training. On completion he attained the rank of quartermaster. He had hopes of going to Germany or someplace like that but as he feared he got assigned to Vietnam. Along the way to make matters worse two of his former friends who were already over in Nam were killed and this really made his thoughts grow even darker.

On his first day in Nam he is warned by others to be prepared for the worst. Little does he realize that that night and other nights to follow were all constantly lit up by nightly rocket attacks? These were close enough that everyone had to get out of their bunks and head to hooch-type bomb shelters. It was a welcome to Nam that Augie wasn’t prepared for and only added to his ever-thinking desire to get out of Nam and go home.

As he worked in the Awards and Decorations Office of his Division’s Headquarters he began to mold a bit more easily into Viet Nam life. There were many happenings though that go to make up this entire story and all of the happenings relate to Augie and his “war”.

He does find that Army life isn’t exactly like he had expected and that life in Viet Nam wasn’t either. Surprisingly enough it seems that many things can get done by what most of us would call “cheating” or “buying your way along”.

As an example he finds that one can “buy” his preferred time of guard duty (or none at all if willing to pay enough) by paying the sergeant of the guard.

Other things of that nature often put Augie into predicaments that he has to work out of. In his daily job especially since he is the person who doesn’t necessarily decide who gets the highest award or medal but because of his position he does wield a lot of influence in the decision and how the award is worded!

Augie’s War is a very interesting look at the day to day events in a young Italian man’s life that as an American soldier in a terrible place can and does survive. Well worth the read.