Ghosts in Vietnam

Rated 4.50/5 based on 3 reviews
A ragtag group of American GIs and an isolated unit of Viet Cong guerrillas collide with an unfathomable horror in the depths of the Vietnam jungle. Their shared nightmare reflects the darkest part of human nature, and amidst the turmoil of murder and mutiny the soldiers are forced to answer a haunting question -- can a man ever run away from himself and truly manage to escape? More

Available formats: epub, mobi, pdf

First 30% Sample: read online
Words: 30,750
Language: English
ISBN: 9781476246062
About James Carter

Born in London and educated at Oxford, James Carter spends his life pursuing challenges. By the age of 25 he had driven from Cape Town to Cairo in a dune buggy, and sailed across the Pacific in a yacht crewed by himself and his best friend.

James currently lives in India where he teaches English and courts controversy by staging school plays that call for the empowerment of women and children. He is an active critic of India’s caste system and works with numerous shelters in Delhi that support victims of domestic violence.

He can be contacted at olympusworld@gmail.com

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Reviews

Review by: Celina Cuadro on July 30, 2012 : (no rating)
James Carter shows his versatility with Ghosts in Vietnam. This thought-provoking tale focused on the stream-of-consciousness personal hell that people caught in wartime conditions endure. Add to this the merciless verdure and humidity of the Vietnamese climate, and the darker shades of human nature are packaged in a brief encounter between a group of VietCong 'fighters' and the rag-tag group of American soldiers.

A squad of nine American soldiers from Sierra Company were assigned to a mission somewhere in Vietnam, and no one knew what the mission was except their lieutenant Paul Sitrick, whose own ethical baggage made this dubious mission even harder for him to accomplish. The men don't know each other well and trust each other even less. Lieutenant Sitrick was seconded by Sergeant Tom McCain, a grizzled veteran of several missions who had seen it all and did not like what he saw. Distrustful of his superior officers and jaded, he grasped quickly that their mission was utterly pointless, and hated the Ivy League-, fashion model-looking lieutenant he had to back up. Add Wilbur Gosset, a black man who was skilled enough to attain the position of Corporal and endured all the prejudice such an accomplishment elicited, and the six men already deemed losers by Sierra Company who were already in over their heads had nothing but a shaky command team to lead them. Meanwhile, somewhere deep in the squad's drop site, an isolated group of VietCong were trying to survive the punishing conditions of living underground as well as dodging the wrath of their cruel commander Quan. The Amercans' mission was supposed to be only two days long, and the encounter between the groups were messy and short - no man in either faction would ever be the same, and most wouldn't even be alive by the time the chopper came back for the squad's extraction.

Reading Ghosts in Vietnam was like having a prolonged spell of vertigo for me. I had just recently read a satire by James Carter which I thoroughly enjoyed, and walking into this tale was like entering a pitch-black cave compared to the laughter and light of the previous story. Carter also elected to jump the reader from person to person, examining each character's stream of consciousness at each jump. While all the characters had a running theme of hatred, panic, and determination to survive, each man felt each emotion in differing intensities, and each emotion's ascendance changed from character to character. As such, jumping from one man's consciousness to the next felt like a roller coaster of dormant to intense hate, and mild to sheer panic - and the only character I found great solace in was the lowest grunt in VietCong hierarchy, Minh. Minh was a peaceful Buddhist who lived in a constant state of fear and an intense need to run away - the world was dying day by day, the fighting and death was all karma, and he was to accept suffering through it all in the hopes of rising to a higher level. Minh was the only character whose stream of consciousness stemmed from constant fear and the desire to be elsewhere, and was a form of stability for a reader like me who was now punch-drunk from the roiling minds of the American soldiers. The author's descriptions of a lush and unforgiving Vietnamese landscape - intermittent tropical storms, intense humidity, and a chaotic miasma of decay and death - contributed to the dizzying tapestry that left me short of breath and my stomach queasy. Despite the discomfort Carter crafted for me, it compelled me to see the tale through till I knew what became of every man in the sharply violent but pointless encounter.

After finishing Ghosts in Vietnam, I discovered James Carter to be a brave writer who practiced versatility with so varied a range of writing styles. I encourage readers to take a peek at humanity's ugly underbelly - and I hope readers find themselves pensive and a little humbled after the experience like I was. Recommended.
(review of free book)

Review by: marco wylie on July 29, 2012 :
James Carter shows his versatility with Ghosts in Vietnam. This thought-provoking tale focused on the stream-of-consciousness personal hell that people caught in wartime conditions endure. Add to this the merciless verdure and humidity of the Vietnamese climate, and the darker shades of human nature are packaged in a brief encounter between a group of VietCong 'fighters' and the rag-tag group of American soldiers.

A squad of nine American soldiers from Sierra Company were assigned to a mission somewhere in Vietnam, and no one knew what the mission was except their lieutenant Paul Sitrick, whose own ethical baggage made this dubious mission even harder for him to accomplish. The men don't know each other well and trust each other even less. Lieutenant Sitrick was seconded by Sergeant Tom McCain, a grizzled veteran of several missions who had seen it all and did not like what he saw. Distrustful of his superior officers and jaded, he grasped quickly that their mission was utterly pointless, and hated the Ivy League-, fashion model-looking lieutenant he had to back up. Add Wilbur Gosset, a black man who was skilled enough to attain the position of Corporal and endured all the prejudice such an accomplishment elicited, and the six men already deemed losers by Sierra Company who were already in over their heads had nothing but a shaky command team to lead them. Meanwhile, somewhere deep in the squad's drop site, an isolated group of VietCong were trying to survive the punishing conditions of living underground as well as dodging the wrath of their cruel commander Quan. The Amercans' mission was supposed to be only two days long, and the encounter between the groups were messy and short - no man in either faction would ever be the same, and most wouldn't even be alive by the time the chopper came back for the squad's extraction.

After finishing Ghosts in Vietnam, I discovered James Carter to be a brave writer who practiced versatility with so varied a range of writing styles. I encourage readers to take a peek at humanity's ugly underbelly - and I hope readers find themselves pensive and a little humbled after the experience like I was. Recommended.

Posted on behalf of BookIdeas.com, where the original review is available to read.
(review of free book)

Review by: sienna bond on July 29, 2012 :
Ghosts in Vietnam" by James Carter is a short novel covering a few very long days in the lives of nine American soldiers and their Viet Cong counterparts. The physical world they must endure is suffocating and terrifying: for the Americans in the jungle ("Light barely penetrated Vietnam's heart, and when it did, it only revealed decay…the unmistakable stench of shattered bodies left to stew in the absurd humidity."); for the VC in their miles of underground tunnels ("The stuffiness in the cocoon of soil was almost unbearable…a world devoid of beauty and color…Such an existence was worse than slow starvation.").

In an earlier novel by Carter, an American Civil War soldier states that survival is taught with a brutal hand and that loyalty only grows from necessity. In this story, set a hundred years later, both survival and loyalty are tenuous. The Americans are a rag-tag collection. They despise each other and everything and everyone they come in contact with in Vietnam. The VC have an even greater inner conflict as their superiors consider them totally inferior and entirely dispensable. These are men with only one thing in common: fear and loneliness. The only American capable of escaping total self-obsession believes in the justice of God; the only VC is a pathological ideologue who believes solely in violence and victory.

Carter writes of the lush vibrant green of the rice paddies; of the shadows that are everywhere -- in the middle of the day, in the middle of the night; of a small brush of red turning brown where there has been blood clinging to a leaf of a reed. He writes of the ghosts in the trees. And through it all, there is the resonant, repetitive, constant cacophony of each man's thoughts.

James Carter has written a beautiful, terrifying, and humbling little book. Bookreview.com considers "Ghosts in Vietnam" an excellent work of literary fiction.
(review of free book)

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