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The Dancing Leaves: Fort Hamilton, Brooklyn

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The Dancing Leaves

Fort Hamilton, Brooklyn
  • by Pierre Gerard
    • Merriam Press Vietnam War Fiction
      • 416 6x9-inch pages
      • 41 photos depicting the author's Vietnam tour
Although written as fiction, this work is based on the author's personal experiences as a Vietnam veteran encountering other vets at the Veterans Administration (VA) in New York City at Fort Hamilton in Brooklyn.

The author served in the U.S. Army, Security Police, and Soc Trang, Vietnam during his 1967–1968 tour of duty.

Review by David Willson in the VVA Veteran:

Yakova Lynn, the widow of Pierre Gerard, has followed the wishes of her husband, a U.S. Army Vietnam War veteran, in dedicating the posthumously published  The Dancing Leaves: Fort Hamilton Brooklyn to disabled American veterans.

Pierre Gerard (a pseudonym) had a distinguished military history. He was raised an Air Force brat by his Strategic Air Command pilot father. His French mother, a native of Le Havre, was a war bride.  His uncle was a highly decorated Korean War veteran. We reviewed his first novel, Le Havre: A Riveting Expose for Our World Today, on these pages in 2015.

Gerard served in the U.S. Army Security Police at Soc Trang during his 1967-68 Vietnam War tour of duty. Afterward, his professional career, his wife tells us, was spent as a “dedicated librarian.”  The Dancing Leaves deals with Vietnam War veterans at the Brooklyn VA Hospital, along with espionage, the Mafia, undercover agents, and crime bosses. This is a complex story—and one that at times confused this reader.

The very first page of this long novel refers to “rear echelon crap” and to a lifer as being a “regular John fuckin’ Wayne.”  So from the start, the author flies the colors of the sort of novel it is likely to be.

Of course, the biggest clue about the nature of this novel is the title.  Dancing Leaves is not a title that made this potential reader eager to read a Vietnam War novel, or to even suspect that this was one. Luckily, the book is much better than the title. At least a thousand times better.

I highly recommend The Dancing Leaves to those who are jones-ing to read another Vietnam War novel—-one that walks down some paths than are usually not trod.

The book also contains some worthy poetry and a lot of images, which sets it apart from the vast majority of Vietnam War novels. Some of the photographs made me shudder, as they show Vietnamese prisoners blindfolded in those red and white napkin-like affairs that indicate these poor fellows are likely to be shot.


Poetry: The Dancing Leaves
Nam Story: The Bunker
Chapter 1: Welcome to the VA
Chapter 2: Bensonhurst
Chapter 3: Adara
Chapter 4: A Soft Gauze Over Their Wounded Minds
Chapter 5: Home Away from Home
Chapter 6: A Mentor–A Case Officer’s Case Officer
Chapter 7: The War Hero
Chapter 8: Take Your Medication
Chapter 9: VA Mother
Chapter 10: Thousand-Meter Stare
Chapter 11: Their Real Meeting Ground—Loneliness
Chapter 12: A Good American Boy
Chapter 13: They Wear Their Ribbons Inside Their Hearts
Chapter 14: Psychiatric Trauma Unit
Chapter 15: Therapy, Sociopaths, and Crime Bosses
Chapter 16: Shrapnel Was Deeply Embedded in His Psyche
Chapter 17: Dirty Business
Chapter 18: It Was A Good Feeling
Chapter 19: Freakin’ Bunch of Weirdos
Chapter 20: The Human Mules Coming in From Tingo María
Chapter 21: It’s Like Old Home Week
Chapter 22: Equal Opportunity Employer
Chapter 23: Phoenix Program
Chapter 24: Interpol
Chapter 25: Just Good Friendship
Chapter 26: Cacophony Rising
Chapter 27: Anything for You, My Brother
Chapter 28: Just Before the Spring of the Betty Went Off
Chapter 29: Flashback
Chapter 30: Organized Crime
Chapter 31: You’re My Friend. I Won’t Question It
Chapter 32: Slowly, Like a Small Serpent
Chapter 33: Clenching and Unclenching His Fists
Chapter 34: AWOL
Chapter 35: Sin Loi—Papa-San—Gone
Chapter 36: The Face of the Nameless Would Appear Before Him at Night
Chapter 37: A Connection Had Occurred
Chapter 38: Capo and Boss of the Twenty-Seventh Cosa Nostra Family in the United States of America
Chapter 39: Green Explosion—The Vietnam Experience
Chapter 40: Saint Martin
Chapter 41: Mullet Bay Casino
Chapter 42: You Die Sometimes There
Poetry: Vietnam, 1968—The Street Without Joy
Poetry: Harry’s in Black
Poetry: The Veteran’s Mother
About the Author
Scenes from Vietnam 1967-1968
Prisoners: Vietnam 1967-1968

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