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Reviewed by Jack Magnus for Readers' Favorite
Vietnam War River Patrol: A U.S. Gunboat Captain Returns to the Mekong Delta is a non-fiction military memoir written by Richard H. Kirshen. When Kirshen got his draft notice from the U.S. Army in 1967, he figured that enlisting in the Navy would keep him safely away from Vietnam. He was wrong. Kirshen actually enjoyed the learning experience that the Navy’s version of Boot Camp entailed, and he also completed the Navy’s course at the U.S. Navy Dive School, earning him the title of certified and designated Navy Diver. When he was deployed to Vietnam, he would be spending a year captaining river boats in the Mekong Delta. When his wife and sister suggested a return to Vietnam 42 years later, Kirshen was not at all interested, but finally yielded to their urging. What he found upon his return to those waterways and that countryside was well worth it.
Richard H. Kirshen’s non-fiction historical memoir, Vietnam War River Patrol: A U.S. Gunboat Captain Returns to the Mekong Delta, is a fascinating look at present-day Vietnam as seen through the eyes of a Vietnam veteran. Kirshen’s story is well-written; his narrative is engaging and his marvelous sense of humor shines through quite frequently. I loved learning about his tour of duty and how he and his fellow sailors kept cool-headed and, even more important, alive throughout their time in the country. Kirshen includes photographs from his time in the Navy as well as of his recent visit, and seeing past and present juxtaposed is both enlightening and profound. I’m happy to have had the opportunity to read Richard Kirshen’s memoirs about his time served in Vietnam, as well as his recent trip, and most highly recommend Vietnam War River Patrol: A U.S. Gunboat Captain Returns to the Mekong Delta.