War Story by Jim Morris.

Book Review: War Story

07 July 2005

Kenn Miller

Jim Morris' War Story is the classic Special Forces memoir. To those well versed in the broad field of good military memoirs coming out of American's Vietnam War, it is the literary standard against which the others are judged.

It is also perhaps the finest autobiographical work ever published about the experience of being a young American in the 1960s.

War Story never got the attention it deserved outside the world of habitual military readers and veterans who read a good book now and then. I think that's got to both Morris some, but it can't bother him much more than it bother me. War Story certainly deserved more mainstream attention than it got. Being as how you only need one (the other being a spare), I would have given my left nut to write a book this good.

Jim Morris actually did give his left nut (or was it his right?) in the course of his War Story. If he weren't so modest about his accomplishments, he'd probably say it was worth it. But Jim's a modest sort who likes to say that he probably wouldn't have been qualified for Special Forces if today's standards had been in force back then.

The fact that War Story never got noticed and praised by the establishment press just might have clouded his eye to the true literary and historical merit of his book. He knows it's credible work, but he doesn't seem to realize just how good a book it is.

He's just as modest about his career as an SF officer as he is about his writing. He was never the great hero. It's the people around him he admires, not himself. And that's only one of many things that make War Story such an outstanding book.

The fact that Jim Morris is my friend doesn't blind my judgement-I knew War Story before I knew Morris. In fact, it was only because I was moved to write him a fan letter raving about his book that I got to know him in the fist place. I told him then that he'd written a classic. I meant it.

War Story is the kind of book people lend to friends. I lent my own copy years ago-only to discover I couldn't buy a new one. It was out of print. This was a terrible shock. It shook my faith in America's free enterprise system and national culture. Could it be true: both War Story, the finest non-fiction historical memoir of my generation and The Sand Pepples, one of the three or four greatest American novels of the 20th Century, out of print at the same time? That had me worried. But now both of them are back. The Sand Pebbles is in print again courtesy of Naval Institute Press. And, War Story has returned thanks to Paladin Press.

War Storyis a classic, and now that it's back, I can say it's time to celebrate! If you haven't yet read it, here's your chance.

War Story is available from Amazon.com (affiliate link)

This article was originally published in Behind The Lines magazine. VietnamGear.com has reproduced this article with the kind permission of Gary Linderer.

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