In Pharaoh’s Army is Tobias Wolff’s unflinching account of his tour in Vietnam, his tangled journey there and back. Using his old wiles and talents, he passes through boot camp, trains as a paratrooper, volunteers for the Special Forces, studies Vietnamese, and—without really believing it himself—becomes an officer in the U.S. Army. Then, inexorably, he finds himself drawn into the war, sent to the Mekong Delta as adviser to a Vietnamese battalion. More or less innocent, self-deluded but rapidly growing less so, he dedicates himself not to victory but to survival. For despite his impressive credentials, he recognizes in himself laughably little aptitude for the military life and no taste at all for the war. He ricochets between boredom and terror and grief for lost friends; then and in the years to come, he reckons the cost of staying alive. A superb memoir of war, In Pharaoh’s Army is an intimate recounting of the central event of our recent past. Once again Tobias Wolff has combined the art of the best fiction and the immediacy of personal history—with authority, humanity, and sure conviction.
Tobias gives an overview of the book:
Born in Alabama in 1945, Tobias Wolff traveled the country with his peripatetic mother, finally settling in Washington State, where he grew up. As a scholarship student, he attended the Hill School in Pennsylvania until he was expelled for repeated failures in mathematics in...
So absolutely clear and hypnotic is Tobias Wolff’s painful memoir of growing up in the 1950s that a reader wants to take it apart and find some simple way to describe why it works so beautifully.
Who wants to read yet another novel about a teenage boy … who feels awkward and out of place at a New England prep school? Then again, you know you’re in the hands of a great writer if you think you’ve...