This is one of the great works of fiction about that war, or any war, and it emerged from a patient, 30-year writing effort in the face of skepticism from everyone but the author himself. The book has a dramatic back story. Marlantes, from a tiny West Coast logging town, won a Rhodes Scholarship from Yale—and then left Oxford after a semester to fight as a Marine lieutenant in Vietnam, where he was badly wounded and highly decorated. He began writing his story in the mid-1970s and steadily refined what had been a 1,700-page first draft to the fast-moving 600 pages of the published version.
Maybe it’s just my NADD (Nerd Attention Deficit Disorder) but I’ll be goddamed if I can find many books that are well edited, especially in history and politics. Nixonland was just a sprawling mess. I’m reading Boardwalk Empire right now and my Kindle is in danger of being pitched across the room because the author did a nice, tight job with Nucky Johnson (the model for the show’s Nucky Thompson), then filled the rest of the book with deadly dull details about the present-day reformers. There’s no reason why every book has to be as long and dense as a
Jane Austen David Foster Wallace novel, other than perhaps the publisher’s need to justify charging a rapacious $12.99 for a Kindle version that costs almost nothing to distribute and should be shorter by half.