This is another DIY - a self-published novel - but one with a difference: the author has lived a life that is beyond fiction, and the tale is so compelling and undeniably engrossing that you tend to look beyond the prose that at times falters, at times doesn't do the story justice.
A boy is mentored by an old man, learns the craft and ways and secrets of a long-vanished form of self-defense, and ultimately finds himself in Vietnam. Using his fighting skills, he keeps himself alive, fights off the bad guys, but is eventually caught up in two battles he cannot escape. He is essentially forced into becoming a shill for the CIA (they're not necessarily named,
but one can assume this is who is being represented) and then, tired of the
political games and the loss of friends due to stupidity and timidity, he simply
leaves the war. He's branded AWOL, ends up in prison, and here he comes
face-to-face with the facility's meanest, beats him silly, and through his
reluctance to join in this insanity is offered a return to Vietnam where he clears his name.
Snyder is an efficient writer if not yet an effervescent one; his story is breathtaking and his sense of making you want to jump up and yell
"Rah rah!" everytime he beats the hell out of the enemy is reason enough to read this. A little more work in polishing his prose and not relying on cliches and Snyder may be looking at a career along the lines of Tim O'Brien, another Vietnam vet who began writing about the war but has since gone on to become one of America's premier fiction authors.
This is far and away one of the best books this reviewer has read coming at the hands of a first-time scribe unable to score a publishing deal with a recognized house. But he is only one kick away from landing that contract, and if you want to feel good about the possibilities of life,and, as a side effect, feel great about yourself, buy this book immediately. Vietnam never seemed so terribly real nor so horribly otherworldly.