Facing the possibility of being drafted and sent to Vietnam, Roger Durham secured a deferment when he enrolled in college. Devoting more time to anti-war protests than to studies, he became immersed in the late 1960s counterculture, flunked out and was drafted anyway. Deployed to Vietnam with the U.S. Army’s 18th Engineer Brigade Headquarters, he was assigned to a helicopter base “behind the wire,” far from the action. Or so he thought—the action came to him as the base drew mortar, rocket and sapper attacks.
Durham’s clear-eyed memoir relates an often untold experience of the Vietnam War—that of the counterculture soldier whose opposition to war did not end when he was inducted. Adjusting to life in-country, he finds a thriving drug culture and a brotherhood of like-minded warriors, who resist both the enemy and the culture of zealous militarism that prosecutes what they see as an immoral war, against American national interests. Durham undergoes changes in perspective, extending his tour of duty when the thought of going home fills him with anxiety and anticipation.