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Reviewed by Christian Sia for Readers' Favorite
Poisoned Jungle by James Ballard is a compelling historical novel that explores the theme of war. It is a novel that answers the question: Does war really end after the battle is over? The author offers stunning and disturbing answers in this story that explores the psyche of a war veteran in the period following his grueling experiences in the trenches. Vietnam war medic Andy Parks believes the war is over and that the leech-infested swamps and the gory experience of human suffering are left behind when his plane touches down on U.S. soil, but the nightmare is just beginning. He is assailed by images of the war and finds himself wondering how he survived and why others had to die. In this story, the protagonist communicates the message that the horror of war is something with more far-reaching repercussions than anyone can imagine.
James Ballard creates a war hero who instantly wins the sympathy of readers; the pathos is persistent and strong. It is the story of a regular man consumed by guilt after the war. While he has survived the painful experience of war, stripping himself of the gruesome memories is a journey that is more painful than his experience on the war front. The story is written in prose that is beautiful. The voice grips the reader from the very first page and keeps them turning the pages as they follow the protagonist through a difficult psychological battle to find balance in his life. Poisoned Jungle features strong and, oftentimes, disturbing imagery; it is filled with introspection and presents a protagonist that is broken and deeply flawed, a character whose experience shines a powerful light on the repercussions of war. It is emotionally gripping and psychologically disturbing, a story that captures the effects of war in a way that is unique and moving. If you want the perfect indictment of war, grab Poisoned Jungle.