I’ve just finished reading and reviewing the novel A Quiet Cadence by Mark Treanor (Naval Institute Press) due for publication on 15 June. I’ll post an announcement here when the review is published.
Treanor clearly meant his book for those in the know. The text is filled with Marine slang, military terms, and argot of the Vietnam war which the author never explains. Several times, he uses that fatalistic sentence that so characterized the outlook of those of us who fought: “There it is.” It means, that’s the way this war is, and we can’t change it. Even the meaning of the book’s title will be lost on those who don’t know life in the military. “Cadence” is the rhythm of military march.
More than half the text is devoted portraying combat. Treanor pulls no punches in describing the grisly damage to the human body inflicted on the battlefield. I grimly welcomed his gory depictions because I want people to know how unspeakable ghastly combat is. I want people to know what they are sending their young men to face when they decide we must go to war.
Because of the specificity and accuracy of Treanor’s portrayal of combat, A Quiet Cadence aroused in me again the symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress Injury (PTSI) from my years in Vietnam. I recognized and remembered the smells, sights, and sounds of men fighting each other to the death. And, along with the protagonist, I lived through the shame and rage of crowds meeting us when we returned, calling us butchers and baby killers and spitting on us. I relived the tragedy of the fall of Saigon. My nightmares returned.
I’m giving the book a good review. I’m sure that even those among us who never spent time in Vietnam and never engaged in combat can profit from reading this novel. They will learn the horror of combat. We’ll all benefit from that.