Although it is billed on the cover as “A Jim Longton Novel: Vietnam, 66-67,” James L. Longton’s We Don’t Walk Nowhere (Trafford Publishing, 240 pp., $16.26 paper) reads more like a memoir than a work of fiction. The years 1966-67 happen to be the exact period that I spent my months in Vietnam in the Army, but Longton’s tour of duty could not have been more different from mine.
The book was a revelation to me, and despite some less-than-sterling editing and proofreading—countless missing commas and apostrophes and misspelled words—I enjoyed the book and recommend it to readers who are capable of suspending their nitpicking about typographic imperfection.
I can’t think of any other Vietnam War book that shows as clearly and honestly the life of a Morse code intercept operator (a spook) in Phu Bai and other dangerous locations in the war zone. Our hero, James, is seriously wounded and is evacuated to Camp Zama, Japan, so the reader also gets a lot of interesting narrative about the hospital and the recuperation experience.
The book is well written and fun to read and possesses a lot of narrative vigor, as well as rude humor. Sandbag filling and shit burning have never been as clearly explained and as well integrated into the story line as Longton manages to do. The novel also has one of the best covers I’ve seen on a Vietnam War book: a photo of a G.I. self-showering using a bucket of water.