That Time, That Place, That War—Vietnam (Xlibris, 336 pp., $29.99, hardcover; $19.99 paper) is an illustrated reference book that sprang from author Margaret E. Brown’s experiences teaching about the Vietnam War by inviting veterans to address her classes.
The book is arranged alphabetically from “A is for Alpha” through to “Z is for Zulu.” In between are entries for Agent Orange, Martin Luther King, Jr., and more than a multitude of others. The entry for King is in the “M” section, not in the “K” section, which is one of many challenges the book poses for a reader looking for answers. Also, there is no index.
I found no entry for the term “REMF,” but when I stumbled upon entries for “Saigon Warrior” and “Pogue,” I found some information on rear echeloners. There is a pervading attitude in the book that soldiers in the Vietnam War stationed in the rear are not quite real Vietnam War veterans.
Despite that bias, this reference book is fun to browse through because there is something unexpected to be found at virtually every turn of the page. It can also be frustrating for the same reasons.
It is a Vietnam War reference book like none other, and every Vietnam War library collection should order it. A lot of excellent poetry is placed here and there in the book, much of it written by important and talented veterans of our war. Sometimes a poem is juxtaposed with an entry that relates to it. That is a reference book innovation I never saw in my thirty years as a college reference librarian.
Buy this book if you are up for a challenge and want to use a reference book that dares to be different and strange, and one that is far from hidebound.