Kids like Jack McLean didn’t go to Vietnam. A graduate of the elite Phillips Academy in Andover, Mass., Jack decided to put off college and enlist in the United States Marine Corps instead.
A year later, Jack landed in Vietnam as a grunt to serve in an infantry company in the northernmost reaches of South Vietnam. What happened there is the centerpiece of Jack’s superb memoir, Loon: A Marine Story, named for a horrific three-day Battle for Landing Zone Loon in June, 1968.
Jack returned home six weeks later to a country largely ambivalent to his service. Jack subsequently became the first Vietnam veteran admitted to Harvard University, entering during the tempestuous fall of 1968, days after his return from combat.
Written with honesty and insight, Loon is a powerful coming-of-age portrait of a boy who bears witness to some of the most tumultuous events in our history, both in Vietnam and back home.
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