A Contradiction of Terms by Joseph C. Maguire, Jr.

Joseph Maguire’s A Contradiction of Terms: A 25th Division Analyst’s Tour in Vietnam, April 1970 to March 1971 (284 pp. $9.99, paper; $2.99, Kindle) is a reflective journal focusing on Maguire’s time in the Army, primarily his tour of duty in the Vietnam War.

Maguire enlisted in June of 1969. After Basic Training at Ft. Bragg, he was sent to Fort Holabird’s Army Intelligence School in Baltimore, not far from Dundalk, Maryland, his hometown. Maguire spent a lot of his off-duty time back home.

In March 1970 Maguire received orders for Vietnam. His tour began in April at the Cu Chi Base Camp where he was assigned to the 25th Military Intelligence Company attached to the 25th Infantry Division.

Maguire paints good pictures of his “behind the wire” experiences in Army Intelligence in Vietnam during the war. His candor about his non-combat, clean-living, and relatively uneventful life as an intelligence analyst is refreshing. I found his observations interesting and entertaining. In November, the 25th Division was standing down. Half the men were sent to Hawaii and the other half, Maguire included, were reassigned to Xuan Loc just north of Long Binh. 

His tour ended in March 1971, and Maguire returned home to encounter many Americans who had misguided notions about the Vietnam War and its veterans. Maguire’s analyses of people’s reactions to him and to the war are spot on.

Throughout the book, Maguire includes biographical sketches of his fellow servicemen, describing their personalities, idiosyncrasies, and physical characteristics. I particularly liked how the book’s 43 chapters could stand as interesting stories of their own.

I found A Contradiction of Terms to be a good read with one major flaw. It appears as though no one proofread the book before it went to print as nearly every page has a typo or other slip of the pen. Despite those distractions, the more I read this book, the more I enjoyed it. I recommend it.

— Bob Wartman