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Reviewed by Vincent Dublado for Readers' Favorite
Wolf by the Ears by Alan Armstrong takes you into a really affecting war story. The year is 1974. As a professional soldier, Major David DeRussy volunteers to return to Cambodia because pros go where the action is. Pol Pot’s Khmer Rouge army continues to gain strength while the Khmer Republic, the pro-US military government of Cambodia, is threatening to collapse. DeRussy has been warned that his insane desire to return is bound to put him in harm’s way. Many believe that what Nixon and Kissinger are doing is deliberately evil. As an assistant army attaché, DeRussy’s job is to play his Khmer counterparts by selling the story that the United States is there to help them. This task is given to him while the American media is already spreading the news that America is going to abandon its ally.
Alan Armstrong has written fiction, but it is a very human story that will remind you how it is important to look back and never forget. As a novel, it can be effectively converted into a war movie, as it has that convention to expose the mistakes that America made in Southeast Asia, and how it has permanently scarred both the participants from opposite camps. Armstrong gives you the right degree of pacing, where you bear witness to DeRussy’s interactions and how it builds pressure to arrive at the story’s full arc. Wolf by the Ears becomes a story of an altogether higher order in depicting the American experience in Southeast Asia. It is a story that is very grounded, a story of an ordinary man with a very important and crucial duty. For anyone who loves a well-written historical war novel, this is an intelligent and enjoyable read.