Right after college graduation, Costa, a lower-middle-class kid from Buffalo, New York, is drafted into the US army and plunged into the Vietnam War. The Foot Solder catapults the reader back to the conflict that changed America.
This is a compelling novella of morality—right or wrong in a split second in the hell of the jungle—when it really matters, regardless of rank, military orders, or rule books. It asks how a soldier survives, how he deals with dislocation, and how he reacts when given an order that defies everything he’s ever believed about the human soul.
Point of view:
1st Person. All from Costa’s perspective.
I love stumbling across new-to-me authors and I’m really glad to have found Mark Rubinstein (I’m pretty sure I found him on Twitter). Despite my love of Military fiction & non-fiction, I haven’t really read or listened to much set in Vietnam. It hasn’t been an intentional avoidance on my part, just where following various bunny trails has led me.
I was literally dumped, right along with Costa, into Da Nang. Rubinstein’s writing give no quarter when it comes to expecting the reader to catch up with what is happening, which is why I felt so immersed in Costa’s confusion, thoughts, and feelings. The raw impotence from lacking any control of the elements, direction, or actions was overwhelming at times – but in that way that shows you’ve been thoroughly drawn in by the writing.
It’s not often that I love a novella. They usually feel either underdeveloped or require other larger books to scaffold them. This however, stood flawlessly on it’s own.
Trigger Warnings (possible spoilers):
It’s war. There’s violent death, battle scenes. Racism.
My Favorite Quotes
It seemed there was no beginning, no end—just nonstop, nerve-racking danger—actual and imminent. – The Foot Soldier @mrubinsteinCT #Military #Novella #VietnamTweet
You were in the company of nearly two hundred men, but the jungle was so dense, you only saw the three or four men closest to you. – The Foot Soldier @mrubinsteinCT #Military #Novella #VietnamTweet
There was a certain look in their eyes; these were men who’d seen it all. – The Foot Soldier @mrubinsteinCT #Military #Novella #VietnamTweet