There are 2.7 million Vietnam vets in America. They don’t talk. They are mute by choice about their ordeal, years ago, in Southeast Asia. Their families, their loved ones, their co-workers and neighbors may not even know that a particular person is a vet. If they do know, they certainly have no understanding of that part – that unmentionable part – of the vet’s life.
Because Vietnam veterans don’t talk.
In his memoir, Tears in the Rain, Rick Whitaker talks. Not about major wartime offensives, or geopolitical implications, or gunfighter shoot-‘em-ups. Rather, he talks about the war on an intimate level: charred bodies exhumed from hasty graves on the steaming Cambodian border, poisonous ants biting unprotected flesh, and being struck dumb by the malignant violence of America’s own killing machines.
Because when Whitaker got to Vietnam - 1970 - with his platoon of draftees, the war had devolved to a very personal level. Accordingly, the author has constructed this book as a series of strobe-lit scenes, creating an overall impression of grimy, random acts of real human beings. Human beings who have been set on an unintelligible, and ultimately incomplete, journey.
And the author talks about why Vietnam vets are silent.
Those who were there will say, “This is the way it was.” Anyone who cares for them will say, “Now I understand.”