The Vietnam War figures in John Bronzo’s latest novel, Sagahawk by the Sea: A Love Story Changes History (Archway, 270 pp., $34.99, hardcover; $16.99, paper’ $3.99, e book), but it comes along relatively late in the story. This is a novel of time travel, so the story moves anywhere and anytime the author wants it to go.
This time travel novel begins in 1961, then proceeds in sections to 1967. Bronzo—whose previous book was Mary Bernadette: Secrets of a Dallas Moon: A Young Vietnamese Girl’s Tale from the Grave about the Killing of JFK—dedicates this new book in part to his high school classmate, Peter E. Sipp, know as “Dude.” Sipp “was killed in Vietnam when he threw himself on a grenade to save his buddies,” Bronzo writes, “sacrificing his life so they could live out theirs.”
This novel includes the author’s explanation of what really happened on July 7, 1947 in Roswell, New Mexico, with that mysterious crash of a so-called flying saucer. One of the characters in this novel is sent there to investigate.
“At first it was said to have been a flying saucer, but later it was identified as a weather balloon,” Bronzo writes.
This novel jumbles up time so that unexpected things happen to those who are affected by the mutants that show up in Roswell with a warning to Americans related to Russian missiles in Cuba and God knows what else.
“If 1965 is the year that Vietnam first invaded my consciousness, 1966 is the year that Vietnam caught the nation’s attention in earnest,” Bronzo writes. “Protests against the war became a commonplace occurrence on college campuses, in cities across the country, and on everyone’s television screen.”
That’s true as far as it goes, but this book, as most books do, makes it seem as though everyone in this country was talking and thinking about the Vietnam War. But most of us were not searching our souls.
The National Guard and the Reserves get a mention as refuge for “the savvy” and the well connected draft evaders and that others were fleeing to Canada. Most draft age men, just hoped for the best and went along with whatever came their way. That included your reviewer.
For those who enjoy conjecture about the options available in history, including during the Vietnam War, Sagahawk by the Sea might be the novel for you.
As the subtitle has it, “A Love Story Changes History.” Read the novel and see if you agree that that really happens.
Bronzo’s website is johnfbronzo.wordpress.com