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Review of Platoon Leader by James McDonough

Stories about wars are manifested and carried out in a diversified manner. Each combat tale depicts a distinction attributed only to its own. Such unique feature distinguishes one combat narrative from the other. A peculiar but effective way of presenting war or its many elements is to tell it first-hand. This is because one’s recollection of the personal experience of war explicitly indicates the significant factors behind the said violent and poignant event. In doing so, the story of the soldier involved in war is definite to clearly impart to the public essential points and decisions made while in the middle of fighting.

Ultimately, it is the relevance of such aspects, as directly provided by the soldier and the war, which pave the way for the public’s realization of the sufferings and triumphs underlying the existence and necessity of war. A valuable way of conveying a war story first-hand is through a literary work presentation. In particular, a soldier’s chronicle of the Vietnam War as well as its importance to people and the society in general is supposed to affect the way a book is made.

When war is vividly exhibited by the person himself who directly experienced the situation, a written presentation is likely to succeed in getting the readers’ recognition. Most importantly, such public’s realization concerning the dangers and achievements brought about by armed conflict eventually serves to be the ultimate purpose, essence and significance of an autobiography. The cited characteristics and principles were what James McDonough’s (2003) “Platoon Leader” successfully exemplified.

This is because the book was directly told from the war experiences and perspectives of a young soldier who led a small unit of American military into the very core of Vietnam War. In doing so, the author’s memoir of being a platoon commander provided the public of what it feels like to be in command of a small military team in the middle of a massive warfare such as the Vietnam War. Compared with the rest of works telling details and experiences about the said war, the book separates itself by its way of presentation and above all with how it affects the readers’ view about military leadership and the dark side of war.

“Platoon Leader,” an Overview The book serves to be an outstanding personal journal made by McDonough when he led a small squad of American soldiers in the battle against Vietnam in the 1970s. U. S. then appeared to be intensely occupied with Southeast Asia particularly going into war with Vietnam. It was also during that time that McDonough’s involvement in war was established. Being a West Point fresh graduate and with a spanking new second Lieutenant title, the author was sent into the heart of the Vietnam War.

From such direct experiences that the author chronicled and realized the vital aspects of war and leadership (McDonough, 2003). The book is an effortless and simple yet fascinating way of McDonough’s memoir of being the leader of an American platoon that joined the Strategic Hamlet Program. Instead of embarking on a presentation, which is based from an assortment of combat stories, the book paid attention and focused on the author’s storytelling of the events, interaction with people and experiences relating to his being in charge of a platoon (McDonough, 2003).

In a tense and stiff autobiography style, “Platoon Leader” exuded McDonough’s openness, integrity and literary expertise in sharing his stint as a platoon commander and most notably, his leadership and views towards war. It is in this manner that the book efficiently designed itself to be of significance to non-military people, former military commanders and future platoon leaders who all seek to realize the principle behind the military profession and involvement in war (McDonough, 2003). “Platoon Leader:” Effect and Significance

It is empirically essential to take into consideration some of the book’s critical aspects as well as the judgments made by McDonough in accordance with carrying out his authority over the members of his platoon. This is because in doing so, the clear identification and eventual acknowledgement of the implications and relevance of “Platoon Leader” will be achieved. First to be analyzed is the book’s style of presentation. Patterned from the author’s memoir, “Platoon Leader” turned out to be an effective autobiography.

This is due to its clear manifestation of how to be a young soldier and immediately experience the wrath of the Vietnam War. McDonough’s personal account of his armed battle against Vietnam made the book more realistic. This is because the author’s taut style and approach at presenting war imparted to the public the true meaning and impact of war without dwelling on the adornments of war tales. Directly coming from the personal experiences of pains and triumphs of the author, the public is told and provided with simple yet honest portrayal of how to become a young soldier who was duty-bound to lead his colleagues in a war.

In fact, McDonough himself claimed that he may be unable to come up with the book or write a literary work presenting the life of a platoon commander and even offer the public with the authoritative historical account of the conflict between U. S. and Vietnam if not for being a soldier and leading a team himself. If not for its memoir or autobiography style, the book will not be presented according to the personal experience of the author. Being in the Vietnam War himself and imparting such experience to the readers served to be the effective way of the author and his book to affect the public.

That is, through his undecorated recording, the story and details of Vietnam War directly came from the platoon commander himself and the member soldiers of his team. Another vital point of the book which determined the totality and impact of the book is the establishment of an effective military leadership. The book adhered to the principle that being a platoon commander entails both military competence as well as individual skill to effectively interact and build a worthy relationship to the members of your unit.

This was depicted by the book when it emphasized that aside from the specialized military education and training of McDonough, his combat proficiency and leadership were only put to a test when he became a platoon leader. The author’s leadership was beset with physical, mental and emotional challenges as he performed his military duty and carried on with an obligation to command a unit whose members’ morale and effectiveness were at their lowest ebb.

Hence, it was commendable that the book was able to show how the platoon leader succeeded in invigorating his platoon by faithfully doing his leadership task and making rational decisions. If this factor was not presented, the readers will have a difficult time at realizing the value of effective military leadership. Lastly and the most important point imparted by the book is its daring and yet unbiased representation of the dark or ugly side of war. The book is not only a memoir but a work which provided the people, the civilians and those in service, with the harms and destructions resulting from war.

Through McDonough’s storytelling, the readers recognized war realities as well as the personal fears and difficulties plaguing soldiers and which even a platoon commander is not exempted from. As such, the author showed his loneliness faded hopes and mounting fears otherwise the people will not realize the value of the military profession and the harm of getting into war. Conclusion The essence of a successful platoon leader was best portrayed by McDonough in his memoir.

Through the aspects of direct storytelling, the public is able to realize effective leadership and the damages brought about by the Vietnam War. Without such vital points, the autobiography will fail in its bid to impart its significance. Therefore, it is through such aspects and ways that “Platoon Leader” effectively served its very goal and meaning making it a commendable piece of work. Reference McDonough, J. R. (2003). Platoon Leader: A Memoir of Command in Combat. New York: The Ballantine Publishing Group.

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