Medic Meets Marx Via UK Newspaper

The Morning Star is a left-wing British daily newspaper with a focus on social, political and trade union issues. The paper was founded in 1930 as the Daily Worker by the Communist Party of Great Britain. The paper describes its editorial stance as in line with Britain’s Road to Socialism, the programe of the Communist Party of Britain.  The 13 November issue contains the review below of The Best of Medic in the Green Time. It was written by Gordon Parsons.  Shout out to Morning Star worker Michal Borzca for the offer to review and free advert.


Marc Levy is a much-decorated US military veteran whose Medic in the Green Time website since 2007 has recorded his own and fellow vets’ experiences of the Vietnam War, a grotesque conflict that, owing largely to Hollywood (425 Vietnam war films listed online), still registers in the public imagination as a paradigm for the unspeakable savagery of modern warfare.

Levy divides this collection into three sections–War, Poetry and Postwar. Inevitably these descriptions of the daily horrors fueled by fear, anger, even jaundiced graveyard humour, are retrospectively remembered and virtually all these voices reflect varying states of ongoing nightmares which the label PTSD does little to capture.

Films, however “realistic,” are essentially artistic fantasies, easily compartmentalised, whereas verbatim reportage can invest the statistics – 58,000 Americans and three to four million Vietnamese slaughtered – with something of what it was like to survive in the midst of this apocalypse.

Off-duty, doped-up troops sought “clarity in the fog of war.” As expressed in the words of one “grunt” (infantry army slang), “Without smoke I stumbled around aimlessly, looking for meaning in the killing of unarmed civilians, the rape of young women, and the mutilation of living and dead bodies.”

Levy’s compendium, however, is as concerned with the legacy of the war on the hapless vets, trying to live in a society which responded with the standard “thank you for your service,” a phrase as vacuous as the automatic “have a good day.”

Many engaged with the VVAW (Vietnam Veterans Against the War) peace movement, others suffered in silence, or turned for companionship to the only people who could possibly understand, their fellow vets. Literally thousands are estimated to have committed suicide.

Some, like Marc Levy, turned to writing out their traumas. Levy interestingly tracks down some cases of characters faking their experiences and medal hauls, including one Lyndon Baynes Johnson—who received the silver star in an earlier war for his gallantry in fighting off a squadron of Japanese Zeros, an event challenged by his crew members and sheepishly admitted to be false in an unpublished letter held in the LBJ Presidential Library.

This powerful book speaks directly to the writers’ own U.S. public but the summing up by one Vietnam war veteran speaks to everyone who mindlessly goes along with our war-games world.

“Look, what we did in Vietnam we’ve done elsewhere countless times: invade, occupy, exploit, leave our mess, lick our wounds, fete our wounded, forget them, head to the next conflict.”