Unpleasant Pastures

Fiction - Action
146 Pages
Reviewed on 06/28/2023
Buy on Amazon

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    Book Review

Reviewed by Doreen Chombu for Readers' Favorite

Jeff Richards wants to make a difference when he enlists with the Marines to serve in the Vietnam War. Despite his wealthy parents’ objections, Jeff is determined to leave home and see life on the less fortunate side. He first notices the relentless heat when he lands in Vietnam, but this is the least of his problems. The more familiar he is with the place, Jeff realizes this is not what he had imagined. He meets Nick, a fellow Marine, the two become instant friends, and they spend the day touring the area. Jeff mingles with his fellow Marines and discovers they have unusual habits, but being with them makes him feel patriotic. He also becomes acquainted with the locals and hears some funny stories. That night, as he reflects on his first day, an incident reminds him that he is in a war-torn land. Get a copy of Unpleasant Pastures by Charles Feggans and join Jeff on his first day of duty.

I enjoyed reading Unpleasant Pastures because it is a unique story with memorable characters. War-related books typically concentrate on gruesome scenes or the traumatic aftermath. Charles Feggans has written a book that mainly centers on the military, local relationships, and their way of living. This was an unexpected storyline, which is why I loved this book. Jeff is only nineteen when he enlists; his innocence and adventurous spirit are palpable throughout the story. The moment he woke up to his reality, his tone and vibe changed, which showed his character development. Unpleasant Pastures is a memorable read, and I recommend it to anyone who loves reading military and war-related stories.

Maria Victoria Beltran

Unpleasant Pastures is an absorbing novel by Charles Feggans. The story revolves around Jeff Richards, the only child of a well-to-do family, who joined the Marine Corps at the age of 19 after graduating from high school. Soon thereafter he found himself in an airplane on the way to Vietnam with other Marines. They arrived at the Happy Valley camp located 16 miles south of the border separating South and North Vietnam. Jeff was happy to find his friend Vic in the camp and the two became inseparable. The heat was unbearable and the enemy was just outside the compound but Vic took it upon himself to teach Jeff about the country so that life in the camp was almost normal. That was except for the incoming enemy rockets that came after nightfall.

Charles Feggans’s Unpleasant Pastures is an unusual Vietnam War story that brings readers into the routine daily life in a military camp. Told from the point of view of Jeff Richards, one of the main protagonists, we get to know the inner thoughts of a young man who finds himself at the heart of the Vietnam War. The secondary characters, Rich and Terry, bring another layer to the narrative. The pace is well-balanced and deals with the daily struggle of life in the camp. This differs from many Vietnam War stories that deal mostly with fighting the enemy. This is also a story of friendship as Vic takes Jeff under his wing and tries to protect him. The unexpected ending jolts us back to the reality of the war.

Pikasho Deka

Based on the author's own experiences, Unpleasant Pastures by Charles Feggans is a war drama novella that follows a young man's time in Vietnam during the 60s. Fresh out of high school, nineteen-year-old Jeff Richards joins the US Marine Corps to experience life from a different perspective, despite his parents' objections. After completing jungle training in California, Jeff finds himself deployed to a place called Happy Valley outside DaNang in Vietnam. He befriends fellow US Marine Vick, who shows him the ropes relating to camp life in the jungle. Jeff soon sees the abject poverty of the local population and the beer-guzzling, card-playing marines who keep themselves occupied with various vices while rocket attacks and artillery fire surround them. He realizes that real war is nothing like he had ever imagined.

Charles Feggans takes a personal approach to tell a Vietnam War story through the eyes of a young soldier who has just arrived in the country and finds himself astounded by the Marine Corps culture and the prevailing atmosphere. Unpleasant Pastures is akin to Stanley Kubrick's hit Hollywood movie Full Metal Jacket in the sense that both stories focus more on the lifestyle and human experiences of the soldiers than the battles or the larger war itself. This makes the account feel more intimate and allows readers to identify with the characters. As the main protagonist, Jeff is a likable young man trying to fit in among people who have experienced the war far longer than he has. A captivating war novella.

Frank Mutuma

Charles Feggans writes candidly. Unpleasant Pastures offers a unique glimpse and perspective on the Vietnam War. Rich and Terry are a terrible duo, conning the local Vietnamese population and fellow marines. The constant threat of rockets from the enemy, gambling, an unforgiving climate, and drugs is the environment Jeff Richards finds himself in after his 19th birthday. Having been raised in a well-off family, he wanted to experience life differently. On his first day, he meets all types of people, including one who thinks Vietnam is the best place to be in the world despite the ongoing war and the harsh climate. Luckily for Jeff, he meets an old friend who shows him around. Things seem to be going well until, suddenly, things take a dramatic turn.

I have read different books on the Vietnam War, but Unpleasant Pastures by Charles Feggans is one of a kind. Along with being based on a true story, Charles writes about the fighting and the lives of the soldiers, their daily activities at the camp, and their thoughts. This is what I loved most about the book. Charles has utilized suspense to great effect. Once you start reading the book, it is hard to put it down. I also loved how vivid the descriptions were. It's like watching a movie. The book's different perspective, such as opposing opinions on the war, provokes the reader to think outside of the popular and majority opinion. This book is a must-read.

Alma Boucher

Unpleasant Pastures is an action-packed drama with a military theme by Charles Feggans. As an only child, Jeff Richards always had the best of everything. Jeff joined the Marine Corps to experience life from a less privileged perspective. Jeff was stationed at Da Nang in a non-combat unit camp where living conditions were extreme, with long rainy seasons and unbearable heat that showed no mercy. Jeff made friends with Vick, and they became inseparable. Vick took Jeff on a tour inside the camp and introduced him to areas away from the base. Life in the camp was almost normal during the day, although the enemy was just outside. Only at dusk, when incoming rockets were exploding in the camp, did any fear of the enemy arise. Apart from those occasions when the Marines were confronted with the reality of war, it was regarded as one of the safest camps.

Unpleasant Pastures by Charles Feggans is based on a true-life story that took place during the Vietnam War. It was intriguing, and unlike similar accounts which concentrated on the war itself. It was a short story but I couldn't believe so much happened in it. The tale was told from Jeff’s point of view, as he experienced his first day at base camp. The pace was easy, and the focus was on the daily life in camp and friendships. The characters were authentic and relatable. It was interesting to get to know them. Most of them were funny and easygoing. The two main role-players were Jeff and Vick, with Vick acting as Jeff’s tour guide and mentor. The story was brilliantly written and much more than I expected. The major twist at the end was a big shock, and I did not anticipate it.

Essien Asian

Unpleasant Pastures by Charles Feggans relates the story of Jeff Richards, who took it upon himself to enlist in the United States Marines shortly after his nineteenth birthday. He was sent straight into the conflict which was the Vietnam War. There, he was introduced to the daily routine of the troops on the ground and learned the different techniques that each man had adopted to survive their tour of duty. He was fortunate enough to rekindle old friendships in this strange land and was determined to face the upcoming challenges. Jeff may have been a man who met the standards set by Uncle Sam during his training, but he was about to discover that he was far from prepared for the harsh realities of life in a combat zone.

Charles Feggans takes us back to the horror that prevailed in South Vietnam during the war. He bases his account on his personal experiences during those harrowing years. As you read, you are left without any doubt as to the high level of attention to detail that Feggans put into the narrative. It may appear to be concise in its content but, despite this, Feggans finds the space for some old-fashioned adventure with a dose of mystery, courtesy of Rich and Terry’s activities. With the quality of the characters and the storyline development, I was hard-pressed to believe that Unpleasant Pastures was Feggans' first novel. This work is proof that it's never too late to start doing what you love.

Amy Raines

In Unpleasant Pastures by Charles Feggans, Jeff joined the Marines and was sent to Vietnam. He soon discovers that his peaceful outlook on life and humanity is not exactly what really happens in a war zone. Fights in the officers' clubs, helicopters with armed gunners, and explosions that rock the night have a way of bringing home the reality that war is a very real thing, and Jeff had a long time to go before he would be able to return home. An old friend, Vick, spent the day going over the things Jeff would need to know to survive his time in Vietnam. Would Vick’s instruction and guidance prove to be useful on that first day? Would Jeff wind up as messed up as some of the soldiers he had come into contact with?

Unpleasant Pastures is a very interesting take on what a day in the life of a soldier in the Vietnam War would be like. The characters are believable, unique, and have very relatable personalities. I love how the characters interact with their friends, enemies, and surroundings in a way that makes me feel like I was on location with them. Charles Feggans clearly depicted what soldiers faced during battle and the camaraderie and problems that kept the units moving forward with their mission. I recommend this book to anyone who enjoys stories that capture moments in history and would love to read more work by Feggans that adds to Unpleasant Pastures and shares the perspective of those who were serving there.

Juan Lynch

Unpleasant Pastures by Charles Feggans is a fascinating character-driven action novel. Follow Jeff Richard, a nineteen-year-old marine who has just landed in Vietnam to serve his term in the war against the Viet Cong (VC). He is immediately greeted by the sweltering heat. Jeff is stationed at Camp Happy Valley. Refreshingly, he has a friend, Vick, who has been there for a while. Vick shows him around the camp as well as the nearby village. During this tour, Jeff discovers why the camp is also known as 'unpleasant pastures.' They are under constant threat of attack from the VC. Additionally, some of the fellow marines are troublemakers and con artists. Jeff’s dad was not happy with him enlisting, and now he is beginning to reconsider his decision to join the war.

I thoroughly enjoyed Unpleasant Pastures by Charles Feggans. The colorful cast of marine characters portrayed the various types of people who signed up to participate in the war. For example, many marines were counting down the days till they could return home, while a few others were happy to stay to fight the Viet Cong. I also enjoyed Jeff and Vick’s interactions. It highlighted how you can still find laughter amid the turmoil of war. While the mood was humorous at times, there were several sad scenes. The story was well-paced. I appreciated how so much information was disseminated through engaging dialogue and insight into the thoughts of various characters. I highly recommend Unpleasant Pastures to everyone.

Luwi Nyakansaila

Unpleasant Pastures is inspired by Charles Feggans' time served in the US Marine Corps in Vietnam. It follows the story of Jeff Richard, a young man just out of high school, who decides to join the military. Death, chaos, and destruction are what Jeff was expecting when he arrived in Da Nang, Vietnam, but his first day on duty seemed peaceful. He meets a new friend Vick, who takes him on a tour around the camp. He meets his fellow marines, who spend the day drinking, smoking, gambling, and trying to swindle the new arrivals, and the locals, who are trying their best to adjust to the war and their new way of living. Jeff feels welcome, but his sense of well-being is short-lived. When night falls his camp is attacked, and he witnesses the full gravity of the war.

Unpleasant Pastures is a refreshing read that shows the normalcy of life before a tragedy. Da Nang is in a war zone, yet the residents live seemingly peaceful lives during the day. Sometimes we take life for granted and do not think about the horrors around us. This may be a coping mechanism or general ignorance. Either way, it does not change the fact that people were dying. The book also highlights the human resolve to thrive amid the destruction. The fact that people will always find a way to survive and live on, even when faced with war and calamity, is a testament to their fighting spirit. Jeff Richard moved from his family home, where he only heard about the war, and was thrust into a place where he saw the traumatic effect of the war first-hand. Sadly, nothing much has changed in the world today. Wars are still raging, and people's lives are being destroyed. I enjoyed this book and highly recommend it to anyone who wishes to read stories about war and its effects.