Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Title: American Warrior
Author: James Snyder
Publisher: Infinity
ISBN: 0-7414-2320-0
No. of Pages: 334
Presentation: Soft cover
Genre: Fiction, War

American Warrior is a novel that deals mostly with the Vietnam war, which in this case symbolizes the internal conflict. The hero is abused by a drunk father, by schoolmates and by local thugs when young. A half-Dutch and half-Indonesian man named Draeger rescues him and the two develop an intense soul-level relationship (as a father and son). Pestered by the hero, the recluse Draeger teaches the young protégé, a secret martial art so that he can defend himself. However, the boy finds that to really master that martial art, he has to transcend his own ego. When he dies, Draeger leaves all his property to the young American, whose drunk father commits suicide. The young teenager gets into trouble with the law and with the help of a teacher, who takes paternal interest in him, gets into military service.

He lands up in Vietnam and gets caught up in the war and the politicking and machinations of CIA. He runs away and is caught by the American Military Police. He survives torture and is again sucked into Vietnam by a slick talking CIA man who has his own personal agenda. He finds that his trust in the CIA man is betrayed and he leaves him behind to his fate in his final escape to Thailand.

The novel is sufficiently interesting to read that one continues with it. Some portions of the book are rather graphic in their description and may cause distress to readers who are a little squeamish, though the title itself should alert the potential reader about the content. However, some of the mysticism, symbolism and eastern philosophy underlying the story may not appeal to the average reader. The book has a strong anti-war message though the hero finds that when buffeted by much bigger forces, one can't do much about fighting or not fighting.

I was reminded of another Vietnam war novel, "Diverting the Buddha" by Bob Swartzel, which I had the opportunity to read and review a few years ago.

A short biography of the author would have been a good addition to the book. However, the would-be-reader can get some information anout the book and the author by checking out the website, and reading the author's interview by Dian Moore.

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