The Vietnam War is a heavily tread topic for most Americans. Whether it is incessant documentaries on the war or the numerous tales coming out of 1960s domestic America, the era is heavily covered compared to most other decades. Certain exceptions may be given to the World Wars, but what was arguably a local event has consumed vast amounts of attention.

American Warrior by John C. Bahnsen, Jr. is yet another memoir written decades after the event. While the bulk of the book doesn’t necessarily cover only Vietnam, it is heavily based around the actions of Vietnam as mainly seen through the eyes of Bahnsen. At times, he has others tell his story for him, offering different perspectives or view. Thus the book isn’t just from him and the alterations are a bit jarring when it occurs.

As the book is about the man, and the soldier, its quickly seen how dishonorable the man has been. Almost as soon as he enters the country of Vietnam he begins to cheat on his wife and kids at home; after all, a man who betrays their own family certainly cannot be trusted by their own country, friends or people on the street. People who betray their family will be willing to betray anything. It deteriorates the decorated General.

Furthermore, we see constant hypocritical actions taken while in the military. Bahnsen is noted as striking a soldier and got away without punishment. Other men, especially those who instead wear stripes, likely would be put through a court martial and their lives would forever be altered. Instead, Bahnsen skates by without real punishment. Bahnsen then whined that the soldier whom he “beat the crap out of”for acting “Like an elementary school kid tattling to the school principal…” Bahnsen has a childish mentality; he wants what he wants when he wants it. If he wants to lash out, he’ll do it. If he wants to sleep with someone else and cheat on his family, he’ll do that, too. He’d even use government vehicles to transport his local mistress.

Bahnsen is a caricature of himself. He is a typical thick-headed, ooh-rah type that has been seen in too many movies to be repeated. Naturally he looked down on non-combat roles and while he says he didn’t care that they weren’t combative, his writing certainly indicates that he did. At the same time, his dishonor continued as he did such things as driving a helicopter drunk, putting lives and machinery at risk. Again, he left without real punishment. There’s nothing really new with this book if one wants an overview of Vietnam or life while fighting in Vietnam; it is simply more repetition and degeneracy.

There is a great amount of information on Patton Jr. as Bahnsen had worked around him throughout a good part of the book. Therefore, if one were interested in mining information, there are good chunks of information but the book is difficult to read for any other reason. It is difficult to like Bahnsen or see him in any positive light.

Bahnsen reads like an uncouth, uncultured narcissist. He acts in positive ways seemingly only when its based on how it’ll make him feel or how it’d make him look. He goes on to admit that he then divorced from his wife, married others and divorced them too up to at least three times by the time of the book’s publication. He was an obvious failure as a man and a human being. We could even argue that he was not an honorable warrior based on his own admissions. And it is further proof that the military doesn’t always care about its soldiers as it didn’t protect or punish everyone equally. Bahnsen is proof of this.

Reading the book was insufferable. Bahnsen is incredibly unlikable. There are books where an unlikable narrator or author works but this certainly isn’t one of them. If I hadn’t been mining the book for research materials I would’ve dropped it within the first fifty pages. It can be good for those reasons but it is good for little else. The writing is adequate but the content is unlikely to give anyone a good or invested feeling in either the man or the military.