Book Review The Gap: Fort Indiantown by John Witherow soars to extraordinary heights as an impactful work of historical fiction.
The Gap: Fort Indiantown is a visceral tale invoking the love of flying helicopters and the sense of life’s adventure pitted against the horrors of war in two places: Vietnam and the ‘War On Drugs.’
Here is the story synopsis, and the review continues below it.
The Gap: Fort Indiantown
Formats: eBook, Paperback
First Edition Release Date: March, 2019
A childhood fantasy fulfilled, a lifelong goal accomplished.
Fresh from rotary-wing flight school, 22-year-old Lieutenant Mark Ashford arrives for his first duty assignment at Fort Indiantown Gap, Pennsylvania, wanting nothing more than to master the art of flight. But he learns quickly that he’s in the awkward position of overseeing pilots with vastly superior skills and experience. Mark is persistently thwarted by one of these men―Vietnam veteran Nick Trent―who displays no regard for authority or convention, or even for Mark’s own personal safety. Resolved to learn more about his belligerent subordinate, Mark uncovers a decades-old secret from the Vietnam War―a brutal helicopter assault on innocent villagers. At the same time, he is tasked with supporting the DEA with aerial reconnaissance in search of a hidden cache of marijuana. Mark befriends a 16-year-old boy conscripted by the growers into the illicit venture. As he struggles to prevent the boy from drifting deeper into the crevices of the drug world, Mark is torn by his conflicting allegiances and risks his dream of becoming a master pilot.
THE GAP is a coming-of-age story that poses questions about the wisdom of the current drug war while employing themes from another lost war.
Page Count: 518
About The Author: John Witherow is a former platoon leader and helicopter pilot of the Pennsylvania Army National Guard and an attorney sensitive to the challenges of the American criminal justice system. He lives in Camp Hill, Pennsylvania, with his wife, Wendi, who is also an avid reader.
The following article on The Gap: Fort Indiantown is *Spoiler-ful*, but any spoilers will be limited to vague references of the plot.
From the opening lines, John Witherow grips readers tightly with a tale of innocent life, ignorant of war, suffering a harsh fate.
It is clear the characters feel with such emotion that it breaks them down at times.
And the dreadful scenario of a small village in Vietnam, enveloped by the Vietnam War, is written from such a unique point of view that the poetical beauty of the setting directly opposes the short, stark results that leave the reader rattled.
Witherow reveals the dichotomy of war, from the ground, in just a few pages.
The novel shifts from the Vietnam War to June 20, 1990 and young Second Lieutenant Ashford arriving to take command as an Army National Guard platoon leader and helicopter pilot at Muir Army Airfield in Fort Indiantown Gap, Pennsylvania.
He is many years younger than his contentious fellow platoon members.
The dialogue is utterly realistic and shapes the readers’ impression of each character nicely so that you can hear their voices as they grapple with their new, young, unwanted boss.
Each character has their own past that is, for the veterans, irrevocably tied to the war they participated in.
And so the present is not exclusive from the past but molded by it in myriad ways.
The contemporary examination of the Vietnam Veterans who have gotten caught up in drugs and the ongoing war in the US on drugs, highlights much of the concerns and damage caused by the ‘War On Drugs’ itself and the many nuances in the laws that are worth examining for their impact of thousands, if not millions of lives.
Justice is not depicted as clear cut in The Gap: Fort Indiantown.
Often, it muddies the waters surrounding the lives of those that have no choice but to continue living on and face laws that are often as unclear as the orders that were carried out in the Vietnam War, despite the sense of morality that is felt in the text.
As the protagonist Lt. Ashford uncovers evidence of a horrid massacre that occurred at the hands of US armed forces in Vietnam, the already intriguing read becomes enamoring.
The Gap: Fort Indiantown is an innovative and powerful work of historical fiction.
The Forgotten Fiction Grade: YEA (read it!)
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