Steve McKenna | Vietnam Reflections

Read these reviews for Sharon Phennah’s Vietnam Reflections.

5 out of 5 stars. “As a daughter of a Vietnam Veteran, I really enjoyed this….. This is a must read….. 5 plus stars……”

~Chrissy Whelan

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“Vietnam Reflections by Steve McKenna is a collection of short stories about the experiences of several Vietnam Veterans. McKenna is a decorated Vietnam Vet and former middle school teacher. This is his first book.

Violence and war and are dark and malignant things. They represent the failure of human beings. It is more than just killing another man it is the wanton killing and the dehumanizing of the enemy. McKenna opens the with near poetry of the violence, death, and destruction seen in war. It is more than just telliVietnam Reflectionsng a story, the reader is inserted into the war much like Wordsworth inserts the reader into the scene of Tintern Abbey. But unlike the happy reflective, there is a dark imprinting. There is a deep personal feeling to the violence, a horrific beauty to it. Images that scar for a life time. It is the scars that the book tells about and the healing process that changes open wounds to scars…

The stories, one long and several short, attempt to show the effects of war on those who survived. Different people react differently, some recover, some struggle, and some lose the battle. People in combat were caught up in the war, day in and day out of constant danger changes a person. Returning home exposes these changes. The loss of the rush of constant danger is not a relief, but a withdrawal. There is guilt from actions carried out in the heat of battle. There is, in many, the need to atone for the past. For others, there is a need to stop the nightmares. For parents and loved ones, on both sides, closure is sought.

McKenna captures the intensity and the mind of Vietnam veteran. Here was a war that we lost with a death toll of almost 60,000 Americans. It was a war where we fought an enemy that won battles and overran American positions and eventually ran America out of the war. It not only carries the burden of war but the weight of defeat. That load is carried by many veterans who found themselves just as unwelcomed at home as they were in Vietnam. This is not just another ‘Nam book.”

~Joseph Spuckler for EvilCyclist’s Blog

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“Wow. I am 38 years old and have of course heard stories of Vietnam. This book had me in tears for our soldiers and these soldiers families. I was in tears for our country and for the continued struggles.”

~Carmen Blankenship for NetGalley

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5 stars. “Vietnam Reflections by Steve McKenna really blew me away as I was reading it. I have never read a book about Vietnam, but I have always wanted to, because my father was a helicopter pilot in Vietnam, but he rarely will talk of it. This book gave me an idea of what he actually might have gone through, and the thoughts and feelings he may still be dealing with. It was an incredibly gripping read, and I felt like I could relate to it so much, because I kept thinking of my dad. The hardships that the Vietnam Veterans went through is painful to think of. They were so disrespected, and were given so little help emotionally and mentally when they returned home from war. They were essentially forgotten about, and this novel really shows what they went through, and how little stock was put into how much they suffered for fighting for their country, and how little thanks they received for it. I was emotionally drained after finishing this book, and I was able to see my dad through different eyes, and to understand why he only talks about Vietnam when he’s been drinking, and how truly painful it is for him to remember and how 40 years and more later, he is still not over what happened over there. It is definitely a poignant read, and I would recommend it to anyone interested in novels about war or history, it was definitely a great book.

I give this book a FIVE out of FIVE stars.”

~Kimberly Maloney for NetGalley

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5 stars. “Vietnam Reflections is a haunting account of the effects of the Vietnam War. Written with such vivid imagery and detail, the reader will feel every heartbeat, every squash of a soldier’s boot in the Delta Rice Paddy, and will hear the whistling of incoming rounds as they find their mark. At times inspiring, and at times bringing the reader to tears, Vietnam Reflections is a collection of stories that trace the evolution of several eighteen-year-old farm boys who went off to war. When they finally returned home, they found that their service and sacrifices were for naught. Following their return to the States, the soldiers were left to survive on their own. Many found that the only way out of Vietnam for good was to end their own lives or to live homeless. These stories are their voice- their screams- about a distant place and a distant time, about a war that went amok… a war that many Americans wish to forget.

There are many books available for the reader interested in the Viet Nam war, many written by historians or Officers that were there during the war.  They cover the commanding of Soldiers or the events that led up to the war, not many are written by the ‘boots on ground’ Soldier; this is one such book and is a debut ‘novel’ from this Author.

I use the word ‘novel’ in a loose term when talking about this book because, as I read it I realised this wasn’t a fictionalised account of the war, but the thoughts and feelings of one of the veterans of a war the country would rather forget.

This book grips the reader from the first page and takes them inside the mind of one of those ‘grunts’; you remember them, the ones who on returning home found a nation that turned their collective backs on them.  Through the Authors words I was made to feel the emotions he experienced when his friends died in arms; be a party to the thoughts that when through his mind whilst enduring day-to-day living in country that didn’t want him there.

This book pulls no punches, but should be a must read for anyone who thinks the veterans of that era are not deserving of our respect.  By the time I finished this book my emotions were raw, and I felt a connection with this Author that was really unexpected.  I’m not sure if this was due to the fact that my Husband is an Active Duty Soldier, or the fact that this Author manages to convey the horrors of war in such a way that the reader can’t help but be moved; I have a feeling it was both.

This Author lays bare his soul for all to see.  I hope it helps him on his road to healing.  I would highly recommend this book to any who are looking to read about how the war really affected those who fought it.”

~Cate’s Book Nut Hut

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