A Different Face of War
Listen to an interview with James G. Van Straten for the War and Life
YouTube interview series hosted by Preston Jones of John Brown
New in Paperback!
A Different Face of War is a riveting account of a Medical Service
Corps officer’s activities during the early years of the Vietnam War.
Assigned as the senior medical advisor to the Army of the Republic of
Vietnam in I Corps, an area close to the DMZ, James G. Van Straten
traveled extensively and interacted with military officers and
non-commissioned officers, peasant-class farmers, Buddhist bonzes,
shopkeepers, scribes, physicians, nurses, the mentally ill, and even
political operatives. He sent his wife daily letters from July 1966
through June 1967, describing in impressive detail his experiences, and
those letters became the primary source for his memoir.
The author describes with great clarity and poignancy the anguish among
the survivors when an American cargo plane in bad weather lands short of
the Da Nang Air Base runway on Christmas Eve and crashes into a
Vietnamese coastal village, killing more than 100 people and destroying
their village; the heart-wrenching pleadings of a teenage girl that her
shrapnel-ravaged leg not be amputated; and the anger of an American
helicopter pilot who made repeated trips into a hot landing zone to
evacuate the wounded, only to have the Vietnamese insist that the dead
be given a higher priority.
“If you have any interest in the history of the Vietnam War, the age-old
culture, values, and religions of the Vietnamese people, the terrible
effects of the war on the civilian population and the challenges of
providing medical advisory support—this book is for you. I could not lay
it down.” —LTG Quinn H. Becker, Former U.S. Army Surgeon
“This book is gold… . The reader can easily apply the observations
from 50 years ago to very similar circumstances today.” —The AMEDD