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Reviewed by Maria Beltran for Readers' Favorite
American Boys: The True Story of the Lost 74 of the Vietnam War, written by Louise Esola, is a non-fiction book about the fate of the USS Frank E. Evans and its crew. It is a profound look at the personal stories of the men who sank with the ship in a 1969 disaster that the US Navy would rather forget. In November 1982, the Vietnam Veterans Memorial was unveiled in Washington. Erected through the efforts of Jack Scruggs, a Vietnam War veteran himself, part of the program is to read the 57,939 names of American soldiers who perished in Vietnam. Ann, whose brother perished with the ship, followed the news about the memorial and through her connections volunteered to read a section of names of the Vietnam dead. To her surprise, her brother’s name, along with the other victims of the sinking of the USS Evans, were not on the list that she would have read aloud at a lectern in the National Cathedral. This is their story.
Louise Esola's book, American Boys: The True Story of the Lost 74 of the Vietnam War, is the untold story of American sailors who perished with the USS Frank E. Evans. Putting together the stories of these 74 men is a remarkable feat, not only because this entailed a lot of research but also because the sinking of the ship is a disaster that the US Navy would rather bury in oblivion. It would have taken a great amount of passion and empathy for the author to come up with the idea of this book, let alone setting out to write it. As the United States of America found itself on the losing end of the Vietnam War, protests broke out in the country, American boys were drafted in an unpopular war and the country was counting its dead. Those who sank with the USS Evans were not even counted as casualties of the Vietnam War and this indignity drove Louise Esola to let the public know the story of each of those who lost their lives in the sinking of this ship. The result is a compelling story of despair, determination, love, injustice and reconciliation that gives tribute where it is long overdue.