No Survivors
by Mike Sutton

"We have a secret weapon, Injun... we got us."

In the American literary culture, the Vietnam War narrative elicits strong emotions. Undeniably, the nation has deep wounds from the war, and Sutton owns the Vietnam reference, taking brutal scenes out of the jungle of Vietnam and drops them into the heart of every American reader. As the author introduces the lives of its three infantry-advisor protagonists, attacks of terror ensue. In successive scenes of mounting horror, Sutton shows how perilous combat operations are, especially with a spy planted among the troops. The shocking events that follow, revealing the mole among the troops, lead to an array of lurid conspiracy killings and provides a sufficient shock to the readers' imagination.

No Survivors describes real military offices and units, including the ARVN 21st division, which was operational until the capture of Saigon in 1975. Likewise, the American and Vietnamese military units and tactics are factual. This faithfulness to facts reinforces the suspense and believability of the novel. The epilogue is a deep and life-changing chapter: Morgan, one of the three protagonists, and his wife Samantha both in tears make the decision to let go war-time experiences especially the former's last encounter with Edwards, another protagonist who died in combat. There before the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall, Morgan gives up the last remaining ghost from the Vietnam War that haunts him for 16 years. Sutton's novel is a brilliant yet disturbing narrative on the strength and fragility of human identity. It has the pace and pithy style of a war novel, yet a long, winding ending and vivid description of the inevitability, as well as the horror, of living the aftereffects of a war.

RECOMMENDED by the US Review

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