I’ve read several books over the years about the ‘Vietnam experience,’ and the one thing they all have had in common is that I have no ability to relate to them. Not to say that they are necessarily wrong, but roles in Vietnam were so varied that one person’s experience didn’t necessarily resemble anyone else’s.
Not so with this book. Yes, it almost certainly has something to do with the fact that the author and I served with the same company at the same time and knew each other then. But the parts set in Vietnam were so real to me, and they brought up so many memories of my own that I found them difficult to read - so much so that I often had to set it aside for a bit in order to let myself keep a certain distance from my own experiences.
Perhaps the greatest thing about this book, for me, is that it puts the war into perspective. It gives the reader a real feel for what was, for us, the unreality - the disconnect from our previous lives that we felt while we were there, the abrupt upheavals in our lives, both from going there and from coming home.
And that is what it was for us. A hiatus from our lives, a reality that went on without us while we were there. I can honestly say that I’ve never read anything else that could convey that the way that Purple Sunshine does.