Excerpt from Lost Soldiers by James Webb, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reviews |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

Lost Soldiers

by James Webb

Lost Soldiers
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

  • First Published:
    Aug 2001, 384 pages
    Paperback:
    Aug 2002, 384 pages

  • Rate this book


Buy This Book

About this Book

Print Excerpt


Muir had decided to ignore him. The brilliant academic had turned away from him now, studying the flotsam as if history itself were slapping and bumping along the gunwales. The old boat shuddered against the current, causing its boards to creak. Muir shifted his gaze from the river to the dangerous beauty of the mountains that now rose up fierce and shrouded on all sides. "Do you know where we are?"

Condley pulled out an old American tactical map he had kept from the war, carefully unfolding it. As a Marine thirty years before, he had laminated the map to protect it from the rains. It still bore black and red stains along its folds from where he had once used grease pencils to mark checkpoints for patrols and on-call targets for artillery. Turning it this way and that, he started matching the map to terrain features that rose up near the banks of the river. This was his area. He had walked every inch of it in another life, and neither he nor it had changed a whole lot since he'd left. Finally he held his finger on the map, showing Muir where they were.

"We're right here, Professor. That mountain over there is Nui Son Su. It was one of our key outposts on the edge of the Fifth Marines regimental headquarters in An Hoa. An Hoa is just behind the mountain. Or its ruins are, anyway. So that means we have two or three more turns in the river. The mountains will close in on us, then open up, then close in again --- right here. And when they open up again, we'll be in Ninh Phuoc."

Muir looked upriver. Indeed, the mountains were assembling themselves through the rain-mist, pushing at the river from both sides. He gave off a little shiver as he stared into the gap. The current picked up, turning frothy as the river narrowed where it passed between the mountains. Condley watched Tuan, studying the boatmaster's face for clues and deciding from the little man's steadfast eyes that they were going to make it. Then for a long time he peered upriver through the rain, lost in memories.

Lots of memories. Years of them, clinging to the crags and standing deep inside old foxholes that still scarred the hillsides.

They broke through the pass and entered calmer, wider waters. Muir seemed to relax, his scientist's need for certainty calmed by Condley's map-reading skills. The river turned sharply to the left and Condley pointed to a high, steep mountain that rose more than a thousand feet up into the mist.

"That's Cua Tan," he said. "We're almost at Ninh Phuoc."

After Cua Tan the river's left bank opened into a valley that reached far to the east. Condley knew that the valley would eventually end in a huge canyon up against even higher mountains, a fiercely sharp range called the Que Sons. The Americans used to call the big box canyon the Antenna Valley. And at its entrance, just off the river, he could finally see the village of Ninh Phuoc.

"There it is," he said. "We made it."

Long time no see.

The boatmaster thankfully followed his directions and left the river's main current, navigating across the floodlands toward the village. "A badass place," said Condley as they approached the looming darkness of its tree lines. "Lots of people died in here. The NVA kept a division up in those mountains. We had a reinforced Marine regiment back in An Hoa. When they ran into each other it could fuck up your entire day."

Tuan didn't know ten words of English, but as he expertly worked the tiller he understood exactly what Condley was saying. He laughed, still shivering from the cold rain, and pointed toward the mountains.

"Da, truoc nay, co nhieu linh Bac dang kia." Tuan then slipped from Vietnamese into the mix of pidgin French and English still left over from the region's thirty years of war. "Boo-coo bang bang obah dare."

"Boo-coo," laughed Condley, repeating the murdered French phrase that had become so common in Viet Nam. "Boo-coo bang bang."

Excerpted from Lost Soldiers by James Webb Copyright 2001 by James Webb. Excerpted by permission of Bantam, a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

One-Month Free Membership

Join Today!

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: All the Ugly and Wonderful Things
    All the Ugly and Wonderful Things
    by Bryn Greenwood
    Bryn Greenwood's debut, All the Ugly and Wonderful Things, is a harsh, raw, and ultimately, truthful...
  • Book Jacket: Hot Milk
    Hot Milk
    by Deborah Levy
    When people reach their early 20s, they often choose to go abroad – they want to get away from...
  • Book Jacket: Ninety-Nine Stories of God
    Ninety-Nine Stories of God
    by Joy Williams
    I have to preface this review by saying that I am not a fan of religious fiction - not even books ...

First Impressions

  • Book Jacket

    Ashes of Fiery Weather
    by Kathleen Donohoe

    "Admirers of Pete Hamill and Kate Atkinson will appreciate this gripping novel." - Library Journal

    Read Member Reviews

  • Book Jacket

    Underground Airlines
    by Ben Winters

    "The Invisible Man meets Blade Runner in this outstanding alternate history thriller." - PW Star

    Read Member Reviews

Book Discussions
Book Jacket
Circling the Sun
by Paula McLain

An intoxicatingly vivid portrait of colonial Kenya and its privileged inhabitants.

About the book
Join the discussion!
Win this book!
Win Lady Cop Makes Trouble

The Kopp Sisters Return!

One of the nation's first female deputy sheriffs returns in another gripping adventure based on fact.

Enter

Word Play

Solve this clue:

Manners M (T) M

and be entered to win..

Books that     
entertain,
     engage

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends books that we believe to be best in class. Books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, that will expand your mind and challenge you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.

 
X

Free Weekly Newsletter

Keep up with what's happening in the world of books:
Reviews, previews, interviews and more!



Spam Free: Your email is never shared with anyone; opt out any time.