Michael J. McCormack, the author of Between the Sheets Behind Enemy Lines: A Life Story of a Decorated Vietnam Veteran (CreateSpace, 396 pp., $19.99, paper; $19.99, Kindle), served as a Marine in the Vietnam War. He “was born into a poor family in the Irish slums of Chicago and still went on to become a self-made worldwide journalist,” McCormack tells us.
His father and grandfather were both Marines, but growing up McCormack was a screw-up and always in trouble with the law. He thought there was no hope that he could be a Marine. But a Marine recruiter thought differently.
Mack McCormack had to stand in front of a judge to get into the Marines. Luckily for him—or perhaps not so luckily—the judge had been a Marine. “Where you are going, you won’t have time for this nonsense,” he told McCormack. “You’ve got to grow up quickly, son.”
With a main character called Clancy and lots of dialogue, the book reads more like a novel than a memoir. In it, McCormack explores the extremes of his life, often using extreme and frowned-upon language. His references to people of color are mostly phrased in ways that would cause eyebrows to be raised in polite society. He makes the point throughout the book that he is not a person who came from polite society, nor does he seek to occupy a place there.
Jewish women are invariably referred to as “Jew bitches” and African Americans are usually referred to by the “n” word. Those of us who occupied positions in the rear echelons in the military are referred to as “military fairies,” a phrase I had not previously heard. The New York Times is referred to as the “Jew York Times” and liberal ideas are called “left wing bullshit.”
PTSD is often discussed, usually as it relates to the behavior and failings of the author. He was also plagued with eczema for which he had expected to be forgiven military service. That did not happen and caused him much resentment.
John Wayne gets discussed way beyond the usual mentions and the phrase “baby killers” is used more often than in any book I’ve read. Agent Orange is discussed, as is Bob Hope and the Vietnamese custom of using their feet to wipe their butts after defecation.
That’s another new one on me.
The book is not well proofread. “Land mines,” for example, appears as “land minds.” According to McCormack, African Americans can’t swim and flak jackets are “flat” jackets.
It’s a strange world.
The author’s website is clancy21.com