Firebase

A Novel of Wartime Vietnam Suspense and Romance

Fiction - Suspense
306 Pages
Reviewed on 05/25/2017
Buy on Amazon

Author Biography

Mark Anthony Sullivan is a retired New Jersey Superior Court judge. During the Vietnam War he served in the field artillery of the Americal Division at several forward firebases. While there he was awarded three Army Commendation Medals and the Republic of Vietnam Cross of Gallantry with Palm Device, battalion level. He is the author of various legal works and lives with his wife Marlene in Spring Lake, New Jersey.

    Book Review

Reviewed by Christian Sia for Readers' Favorite

“The first thing they teach you in the army is how to make a bed—a lot of good that is doing me now. You can’t make a bed if someone else is in it.” These are the first words that stuck in my mind when I started reading Firebase: A Novel of Wartime Vietnam Suspense and Romance by Mark Anthony Sullivan, a gripping story whose entertainment comes through the perfect blend of romance and suspense. Written by a Vietnam veteran, this novel is a story of long-distance relationships, of longing, and war. Follow Army Specialist Mike Ward who has to leave his girlfriend back home and Law School, not in the best circumstances, and is stationed at a forward artillery firebase in Vietnam. Now, miles and miles away from the love of his life, can he keep the flame burning and the hope steadfast?

Only someone who has known the pain and sufferings of war can write such a spellbinding war novel. The war experience of the protagonist comes across the writing succinctly and from the very first page, there is no doubt that the author has lived the experiences described in the story. The setting is international and the reader vacillates between two worlds. At a time when social media wasn’t yet part of the day-to-day lifestyle of many, communicating through letter writing must have been very challenging with the long wait for replies and information. But that is the only link Mike has with his loved ones at home. Mark Anthony Sullivan has a gift for prose and epistolary and the depth of his characters comes across beautifully in the letters. Firebase: A Novel of Wartime Vietnam Suspense and Romance is suspenseful, entertaining, and not-easy-to-put-down.

Cheryl E. Rodriguez

Mark Anthony Sullivan pens a story of war in Firebase. Michael Ward is a young law student from New Jersey. In the middle of college, he is drafted. Before he knows it, he finds himself in an artillery bunker in Vietnam. Separated from his girlfriend, his parents and brother for the first time, he begins writing to them about his daily life. His girlfriend is far from being on board with his decision to go to Vietnam. She is hurt and confused as to why he left her instead of accepting a position in the reserves. They don’t part on the best of terms, but continue to write to one another. News and letters from home reveal that the world he left behind is changing radically in his absence. For SP4 Michael Ward, his goal remains constant: do my job and get home to those I love.

Firebase by Mark Anthony Sullivan is a story told through letters. This novel gives a whole new meaning to war correspondence. Sullivan uses his personal memories and experiences of Vietnam to create a timeline of events: historical trials, sports triumphs, wartime politics, anti-war protests, racial riots, media bias, the invention of automatic teller machines, the Apollo 13 mission tragedy, the birth of the hippie movement, the rise of the Black Panthers, and war profiteering are all highlighted. Through the penning of letters, the tone of the narrative is revealed - a state of unrest. Each person from home shares their views and personal perspectives of life without the protagonist. The valediction or the closing of the letters reveals a great deal about the relationship between writer and recipient, as well as the actual content of the letter. Conflict is depicted in both settings, once again revealing the overall sense of turbulence. However, there is more drama than action in the plot. The hero is caught between two worlds, but remains true to his morals even when tested by opposition from home and political contradictions. Firebase gives a true-to-life account of life during the war in Vietnam, and how the soldiers, government, and the American people were caught in a war they could not win. Yet, in the midst of such controversial times, love, hope and devotion conquer all.

Raanan Geberer

When Elvis sang “Viva Las Vegas,” it’s unlikely he had Fire Support Base Las Vegas in South Vietnam in mind. True, the soldiers there had three meals a day, their own beds, an electric generator and movie screenings, but they also suffered through mosquitoes, monsoons and the occasional V.C. attack. Firebase by Mark Anthony Sullivan is a novel written in the form of letters between SP4 (later Sgt.) Michael Ward and his family members, as well as his girlfriend, Jane. The time is 1970 and 1971, when the Vietnam War has already been dragging on for years. Ward is a law student from a middle-class family who supports the war. This makes him different from most of the veterans this reviewer has met—small-town and inner-city working-class guys who didn’t spend much time thinking about the politics of the war and who just wanted to serve their time and go home.

The letters are all well-written and, through them, Mark Anthony Sullivan shows in Firebase that the Ward family is a literate, educated one. Michael, his family members, and Jane discuss Michael’s day-to-day Army life, the growing opposition to the war, other stateside happenings (like race riots and local New Jersey politics) and family gossip. Through the letters, Sullivan also shows how things were changing in daily life—Jane, a teacher, remarks on how more of the new teachers were men than in the past, while Michael himself writes about how Williams College, an old-line school in Massachusetts, has just admitted its first female students. At first, the letters don’t have much emotion, but later they show the characters’ angst. Jane insists that Michael should have joined the Reserves to get out of being sent to Vietnam, while Michael is upset that returning veterans aren’t getting the same kind of respect that those who came home from World War I and World War II were given. All in all, Firebase is a well-written, interesting look at one family’s Vietnam experience.

Rabia Tanveer

Firebase: A Novel of Wartime Vietnam Suspense and Romance by Mark Anthony Sullivan is the story of a soldier who is struggling to maintain whatever is left of his love and life while he is serving in the Vietnam War. This is the story of Mike Ward, an Army Specialist who is new to this life. He had to end his law studies and career and now he is stationed in Vietnam. With the pressure on the government, the more experienced soldiers are called back and now the entire burden is on young soldiers like Mike.

Things are not easy, especially considering the fact that Mike had to leave the love of his life behind. He has no contact with the outside world, especially with the woman he loves, except by letters. So this is what he lives for, the letters that bring him hope and a little happiness; this is the only thing that connects him with the outside world and away from the senseless war. But with life so bleak and black and white, what can he do? How can he survive when there are no shades of gray or a better life?

Firebase is a novel that is intense, thrilling and touching all at once. The story has a very fast pace, the reader is hooked from the very first line, and the characters are simply wonderful. You cannot help but be sucked into the intensity of the timeline and the way Mike is feeling. You will not feel sorry for him, but you will definitely feel compassion for him. This is a fantastic novel and Mark Anthony Sullivan did an amazing job at portraying such a complex character in such a complex timeline so beautifully. A very intense and well-structured read.

Samantha Dewitt (Rivera)

Mike has just been sent away to war in Vietnam and no matter what he does next, it’s going to change his life forever. His letters home, to each of his parents as well as his brother and even his girlfriend, help him to escape, but it’s the letters that come to him that are even more important, helping him to get through the horror of being near the fighting in Vietnam. But surviving through the war, no matter what happens, isn’t going to be as easy as he might have hoped in Firebase by Mark Anthony Sullivan.

This book is written as a series of letters to and from Mike, who has just found himself in Vietnam, fighting a war he never thought he’d have to be a part of. His letters are what you would expect from a man struggling to get through the most difficult thing he’s ever experienced. You can definitely relate to each of the characters and you feel like you really get to know each of them as well. Any war is something that’s difficult to understand if you’ve never been there, but with this book you’ll get at least a little sense of what the soldiers were thinking and doing as they took on one of the worst wars our country has experienced. After all, trying to fight a war in a country that doesn’t want you is bad enough, but when even your home country is against you, everything becomes even worse in Firebase by Mark Anthony Sullivan.

Jack Hill

Mark,
Great Job! It was fast moving and pulled me into the drama of it all. Having been in service and overseas during that same time period, the references took me back in time. Congrats!

Jack