The Horror by Martin E. Silenus is Book Three in the author’s collection named The Vietnam Trilogy. Unlike Book Two, the Table of Contents promises twelve chapters and delivers twelve, all in 49 pages.
I almost did not read the story after the first chapter due to the author’s description of interrogations. Some extremely false information is implied. I stayed with the story because the section also included accurate information about firefights occurring near and at firebases. Many of them were fought under the influence of alcohol and drugs, while rock and roll played nearby.
The Horror is the best of the three novels comprising the trilogy. Silenus examines serious issues such as PTSD. There is another issue that frightens US troops operating in a Special Operations environment. Many readers have heard of the oft-repeated mantras, “No man left behind,” and “We never forget.” The slogans work well in what might be considered a “typical” military environment if we accept that war is ever ordinary. But what would happen if a Special Operations unit went rogue, took laws and regulations into their own hands, or ran wild? Would other US troops hunt them down and perhaps kill them?
Accusations of rogue operations scare people who work in Special Operations. Silenus explores the possibilities in this novel. TRIGGER WARNINGS: There are graphic descriptions of torture in the later chapters of this novel. Again, Silenus explores what forces are behind the planned use of brutality, how could this have come about? The Horror is a short story. The same issues have been and are studied extensively by operators in counterterrorism. Historically, we can turn to the Nazis, the Chinese Cultural Revolution, and the excesses of the Pol Pot regime if we feel the need to look outside the Vietnam experience.
Silenus did an excellent job of bringing troublesome issues up for examination, one which will be of interest to war veterans. It might also be relevant to those working in social services, the ones who are left to do the cleanup when the broken come home. The novel is available on Kindle Unlimited or for purchase from Amazon for USD 1.99. My rating was higher for this third novel, four Amazon stars.