The Fire Dream
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Author: Franklin Allen Lieb
Published By: Ibooks
Reviewed by Melissa Minners
In the late 1960’s, the United States was at war with itself over what had started as a police action in a country most people had never heard of – Vietnam. Franklin Allen Leib served as a Naval Lieutenant during the Vietnam War and worked as support for Marine and Army actions during the war. His novel, The Fire Dream, seeks to give us insight into the minds of the men who fought valiantly for the United States in a war that few seemed to want.
The novel centers around four men – two Navy and two Marines. Naval Officer William Stuart joined the ROTC years before Vietnam became the most dreaded word to ever enter the American household. Stuart looked forward to serving out his required four years and starting his life with his fiancée. He soon finds that his plans severely clash with the plans the military has for him. Douglas MacArthur Moser was a simple, quiet, behemoth of a man who had never thought of the military as an option. That is, until the day that an unkind word developed into a brawl, landing Moser in jail facing prison time. When he was offered the chance to join the Navy instead, he jumped at the opportunity, never quite knowing what he was in for. Billy Hunter had always felt that he had let his family down – excelling in a sport his father hated, having little to no interest in the family business and dropping out of college. When the draft notice arrived in the mail, Billy Hunter was uncertain of what the future held in store for him, but meeting a Marine recruiter changed all of that for him. He was going to make his family proud by serving in Vietnam with the best of the best. Bobby Coles was supposed to be a football star in the NFL. An angry man with a deep resentment toward the treatment of blacks in America, Coles was mortified when he received his draft notice and discovered that there was no way out of serving. On the advice of his brother, Coles joins the Marine Corps to get the best training possible for surviving Vietnam.
Though their paths are very different, they all lead to the same place – Vietnam – and as fate may have it, Stuart, Moser, Hunter, and Coles become part of a unit called the ANGLICO. As a part of this unit, the men assist both Army and Marines in calling in Naval artillery on coastal operations. Each man in the unit has something to prove and each has his own demons he has to face. Under the direction of military leader Blackjack Beaurive, they become a force to be reckoned with.
The Fire Dream is not just an epic novel about war. It teaches the importance of friendship and honor. Leib’s descriptive writing style brings to the reader the beauty as well as the horrors of Vietnam. His writing is descriptive enough to entice a visual image without being too descriptive and boring the reader to tears. By making his characters so human, and as such, fallible, Leib creates a bond between the reader and each character in the novel. Reading The Fire Dream, one finds themselves rooting for each man’s personal and professional victory and crest-fallen with each failure. The war in Vietnam becomes something very real instead of something read about in history books. Upon completion of this poignant tale, the reader will find themselves so wrapped up in it all, as to want more. Fortunately, there is a sequel; Valley of the Shadow, which takes readers deeper into the conflicts of the Vietnam War; an equally exceptional humanistic account of triumph and tragedy. But it all starts with Fire Dream, a poignant tale of a nightmare that was all too real, one know one will ever forget.
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