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Book Review: Legacy of War

Legacy of WarEd Marohn. BookBaby, July 1, 2019, Trade Paperback and E-book, 340 pages. 

Reviewed by Jose Nateras

In Legacy of War, Ed Marohn, a Vietnam veteran and Assistant Professor of Military History, tells the story of another veteran of the war in Vietnam, psychologist John Moore. Decades after his experience in Vietnam, Dr. Moore is still having nightmares about his time there. Having lost his wife, Dr. Moore is only now starting to find himself developing a desire for a fellow psychologist, Dr. Sally Catton. When the V.A. hospital becomes overwhelmed and unable to provide the veterans with the medical services they need, the V.A. refers one of its patients to Dr. Moore. It's Dr. Catton who warns Moore against taking on fellow veteran, Tom Reed, as a patient, and maybe she's right. Throughout their sessions, Dr. Moore finds some common denominators between Reed’s time in Vietnam and his own, specifically an Agent Ramsey of the CIA, all leading Dr. Moore to delve into his memories of Vietnam and the dark secrets of his own family and the mysterious Phoenix Program. This journey takes him through the traumas of his past and the more recent loss of his wife as he deals with new attractions and old demons of depression and PTSD.

Marohn allows his personal experiences and memory as a veteran, as well as his expertise as a military history scholar, to develop his novel into a genuinely three-dimensional world. The narrative takes the reader on the same journey Marohn’s protagonist finds himself on, bouncing between the past and narrative present to allow for the chance to move on into the future. Marohn allows for a glimpse into the multi-generational experience of war and the legacy of trauma and healing it leaves with those involved.

The story is populated with a number of interesting characters for Moore to bounce off of, including his close friend, Jim Schaeffer, his mysterious antagonist, Agent Ramsey, various international military personnel, and a potential new love interest in National Police Agent Hieu, allowing for Marohn to explore a number of different relationships throughout the story.

With relatively short chapters, the pace of the narrative moves along quickly, keeping readers moving through the story at a pace that never lacks momentum. Marohn effectively tells a story from the perspective of a man in his mid-fifties who is looking back on his life, fostering new feelings of attraction following the loss of his wife, and revisiting wounds of the past, ultimately leaving the reader with the sense that it is never too late to embark on a journey for answers, healing, and closure. When combined with the energy of a military mystery-thriller, Legacy of War makes for a more than compelling read that feels thoroughly entrenched in the experience of someone of the generation at the core of the story itself.


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