I Pledge Allegiance (Vietnam #1) by Chris Lynch
This title begins the story of four best friends as they serve their time in the service during the Vietnam War. Morris, Rudi, Ivan and Beck have been best friends since grade school and pledged to all to to war if one of them was drafted. As a year older than everyone else and not too bright, Rudi is drafted and the boys keep their promise to enlist. Each in in a different branch of the service and this story tells the tale of Morris, in the navy and assigned to the USS Boston, a heavy cruiser stationed off the coast of Vietnam.
Although the story is simply told and avoids the moral dilemma of the United State’s presence in the civil war, I think this is a good title for students looking for a book about war. I get multiple requests for these in the fall when we meet our BHS freshman for their first independent reading books, and I think this series will be a hit. The books are short, just under 200 pages, and each is told from a different character’s perspective. Lynch does not avoid the violence and killing, peppering the story with real life action with napalm, agent orange, snipers and the risky river patrol boats that engaged in often deadly combat with both enemy boats and firefights with soldier hiding on the shores.
Despite the fact that these books don’t have the emotional punch of more profound titles like O’Brien’s The Things They Carried, I think the series is an excellent introduction to a war today’s students only know about from history books and maybe their grandfathers. I highly recommend the series which I suspect can be read out of order since each is about a different soldier. All four books are available in the Berkeley High Library, with the fifth one (Fallen Soldiers) on order.