Saturday, June 14, 2008

Tree of Smoke - post VIII

By the time the last couple of words float past your eyes you have become completely immersed in a world where truth and reality are far removed.

The colonel, or his ghost, haunts those who knew him with the old fighter somehow becoming something much more powerful for Storm, Hao and Skip as the years go by.

Did he die? In the end even Storm, who chases him until 1983 has to admit that it looks like he has. Just over the Thai border he catches up with Anders Pitchfork and is shown the colonel’s grave.

Did the colonel protect his own? Skip reappears waiting to die in a Kuala Lumpur jail for gun running and is still fighting his demons and his own war against himself.

Was any of it worth it? As James and Bill Houston slip in and out of jail unable to ever comes to terms with what they saw, in the case of the older brother a single cruel blooded murder, and in James’s case hell, the costs are all too clear.

But as Kathy reminds us as she digests some of Skip’s last words and thoughts, it is possible for everyone to be saved.

In terms of describing just how it must have felt to have been one day in the killing fields and the next at home struggling top adapt then this book seems to nail that transition and it seems that the biggest failure of the US was understanding just what type of war this was and what it did to its own soldiers.

A review will follow soon…

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