Robin Moore started out to write a nonfiction account of the undercover work of the Green Berets.
When it became clear the special missions in which they engaged in Vietnam were too sensitive to be reported, even in disguise, Moore decided to present the book as fiction. Even then, its publication met with negative reaction from the US Army.
The Green Berets by Robin Moore
Crown Publishers, 1965. 348 pages. 1965 bestseller #5. My grade: C-
It’s a collection of stories—the publisher calls them “brilliant, inspiring tales”— Moore collected and imaginatively expanded based on his experiences with Special Forces in Vietnam.
Moore assumes readers will know the historical background and geography and need only modest two-page glossary of acronyms to make sense of events that involve characters named Hin and Hon, Ming and Mong, who fight for or against CIDG, ARVN, LLDB, USOM or STRAC.
I suspect the only readers today who have that kind of knowledge are Vietnam-era veterans.
Moore concludes the book by saying that regardless of the outcome of the Vietnam war, Special Forces will continue to “make friends for America” in underdeveloped nations.
Given the stories Moore tells, however, I suspect Special Forces will need to deploy a lot more chocolate bars to accomplish that.
© 2015 Linda Gorton Aragoni