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Youth In Asia by George Baggett – Book Review

From the streets of America, youths were drafted and sent to war in Vietnam. Inner city youths and farm boys were thrown into a master plan only the American Military could have created. Never having driven a car, John Montgomery became a mechanic. Greg Foster became a Combat Medic. They trained and lived during interesting times. They witnessed the American response to poverty and civil rights, assassins, corrupt politicians, and other maladies of the American condition. Youth In Asia follows the personal growth of its characters through illusions and disillusionment, through love and hate, and shows how the experience of Vietnam left its mark, often hidden just below the surface in many fine Americans who will never forget how it happened.

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Youth In Asia by George Baggett

About the Author


Drafted in 1966, George Baggett served in Vietnam in 1969. He briefly worked at the 12th Evac Hospital in Cu Chi, and then spent the remainder of his tour at Third Field Hospital in Saigon, Vietnam. He is a native of Kansas City, Missouri, and works as an environmental consultant.

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Reader Reviews

Kept me interested – This book taught me more about Vietnam and what it must have been like for my parents growing up during that time. It was also good insight into how history repeats itself with each generation. There were some touching moments and some tense ones. All in all a good read with lessons to be learned.

Readers will find an interesting story set in history, discussing issues relevant today and for soldiers returning from a preemptive war in Iraq. Déjà vu – our leaders use similar language; poor kids still fight our wars; society is polarized; and returning veterans face a society relatively unaffected by war. While others have told stories about the Vietnam experience, few have told how Vietnam veterans developed understanding of world complexities and dealt with disillusionment, loss of innocence, and then quietly arose to responsibility and respectability. In all groups there are extremists and troubled individuals, but most Vietnam veterans live normal and challenging lives, and possess experience and wisdom that appears to be sorely needed at this moment in history.

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This is a must read for any Saigon Kids who returned to Viet-nam in the military … and for all Viet-nam Veterans.

Youth In Asia is available at Tu Do Street Book Store.

As always, you are welcome to leave your comments below.

Bob

2 comments to Youth In Asia by George Baggett – Book Review

  • Bruce Thomas

    George Baggett’s book has a double-entendre title, “Youth In Asia,” that kindles a distant memory for me.

    In late winter 1969, I was happily commanding a small Army team supporting an air defense missile battery of the Luftwaffe. We were the custodians of certain critical components of the American-made missiles owned by this German NATO unit. We were located far away from the large concentrations of American troops south of us in Germany. Having studied German in college, I was pleased to be in a situation where I worked daily with Luftwaffe personnel and interacted with townspeople, many of whom spoke no English. I even rented a room in the home of a German family. My landlord had served in the Wehrmacht on the Russian front during World War II. Spending evenings with him in his living room, I discovered that beer appreciably enhances one’s ability to speak another language.

    My two-year commitment with the Army was drawing to a close. But I was so enthralled with my assignment that I agreed to extend my time on active duty for an additional year, sure that there was no way I could be ordered to Vietnam.

    On March 1, that assuredness came crashing down. The old German-style telephone in my office jangled with its peculiar warbling ring. I had spray-painted it bright red as a joke. (“You never know, the President may call someday on my hotline to tell me what to do with those ‘special’ warheads.”) As usual, it was Frau Holz, the German switchboard operator in the kaserne. She announced an incoming call from my commanding officer twenty miles up the road at another German unit and then completed the connection. His voice came on the line. “Good morning, Lieutenant Thomas. Are you sitting down?”

    My mind quickly processed the meaning of his question, and I responded laconically, “When do I leave?” It would be two more months before I was scheduled to depart Germany for Southeast Asia, to become another “Youth In Asia.” Showing a bit of gallows humor, later that day I told my assistant, another lieutenant, “Better euthanasia than youth in Asia.”

    By mid-June, I was within a few hundred yards of the old American Community School as I arrived at MACV headquarters at Tan Son Nhut, on my way to an 11-month assignment that I had been told, by someone at the Pentagon, would be good for my Army career. That career would quietly end exactly 11 months later, on the day I stepped off the “Freedom Bird” that flew me back from Vietnam to California.

    Bruce

  • George Baggett

    I was no Rambo. In fact, I and many others served our country doing all sorts of jobs from cooks to motor pools, and hospitals where we cared for the youths in Asia and often civilians who got caught up in a war. I felt that Americans did not get the “true” story of Vietnam, and how some who had little regard for the humanity damaged during this war were the ones who wrote the aftermath in their own authoritarian voices. I sincerely hope you all like my book. It was my effort to inform in a climate of disinformation. Many of us ended up having a great love for the people of Vietnam, and continue to have difficulty with a great disconnect associated with the true history of that war and the given rationale for the war. When I saw the scenario being repeated, I felt compelled to get this book into the stream.

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