Out of Country
by Ron Aigotti

"The story which follows is an attempt to portray the profound effects which the Vietnam War had on those American military personnel who remained stationed Out of Country; that is not in Vietnam, and thus suffered no physical war injuries or casualties. Yet, these men and women also carry permanent, deep scars of this dreadful conflict."

Numerous books have been published about the loss of American lives in Vietnam–a war that ended, with the withdrawal of America and a victory for North Vietnam. Most books have focused on those engaged "In Country," meaning in Vietnam, and the long-term physical, psychological, and emotional impact of the war, on those who returned home.

Out of Country focuses on those who were affected by the war, despite not serving in Vietnam. Aigotti showcases a slew of characters (i.e. Michael, Kathy, Joe, Judy, Lt. Colonel Anderson, and Sam) that connect on a visceral level with readers who consider the psyche of what transpired in America–relative to those who endured the war at home, facing emotional and psychological issues similar to American military in Vietnam.

The prose in this book flows well, and the author cleverly uses snippets of anecdotes that engage readers, in empathizing with the characters, who continuously evolve–from the first to the last page. One of the most fascinating characters is Anderson, who epitomizes the image of a by-the books warrior. For example, Anderson overrides Dr. Michael Rizzuto’s opinion that BJ Parrish should not be sent back to Vietnam, because of his mental and physical afflictions.

Parrish returns from Vietnam after an overdose of peanut oil. Parrish collects peanut oil and injects himself. The oil blocks the flow of oxygen to the heart, lungs, and brain, which triggers a temporary feeling of euphoria. However, Parrish’s heart stops long enough to result in brain damage. Aigotti builds his characters, via various scenarios that alternately evoke laughter, as well as tears. Aigotti’s moral judgment places the blame for Parrish’s brain damage squarely on Anderson’s decision to send Parrish back to Vietnam.

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