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Reviewed by Jack Magnus for Readers' Favorite
Pachyderms is a military fiction novel written by Danny Buoy. Dan Coobat received a military deferment for college in the early 1960s, and when he matriculated with a degree in English, he enlisted. With his academic background, he was assured a position in communications, but was actually assigned to Advanced Infantry Training School. After that, he ended up at Fort Benning, working with Specialist 5th Class Carl Copelet in Flight Operations. Dan hadn't considered Vietnam as a likely destination when he signed up, but the 312th Battalion would be deployed there about six months after he became Copelet's trainee. Dan and Copelet helped set up the Battalion's new home in Bear Cat, a barren space surrounded by jungle, with a most incongruous yellow mobile home announcing the presence of the Fifth's Commanding General Bosebaugh.
Danny Buoy's historical military novel, Pachyderms, is an enthralling and engrossing coming of age story set in Vietnam in the late 1960s. Dan and Cope are marvelous characters, and their initially tense relationship blossoms into a strong and enduring friendship that makes this novel quite special. Buoy brings the sights, sounds and smells of war-era Vietnam to life as we experience the country through Dan's eyes. Cope and his brother, who's also in the country, are the wheelers and dealers who arrange trades for consumer goods like air conditioners and freezers, and the author's mention of Radar O'Reilly from MASH made me smile. Pachyderms is a different type of Vietnam story from the others I've read. It reads like a memoir, and I had to remind myself on several occasions that Dan, Cope and the other servicemen I had come to care about were fictional characters. Pachyderms is most highly recommended.