About this Book
In his memoir, My Other Life: A Combat Soldier in Vietnam, Richard Alexander tells of his experiences as a machine gunner on, and then the driver and Track Commander of, an armored personnel carrier with the Army's Eleventh Armored Cavalry Regiment in South Vietnam from April, 1967 to April, 1968. In relating his experiences, it's as if Alexander is remembering what happened to him in another life. He tells of the young, badly burned Viet Cong soldier who was miraculously still alive when Alexander came across him lying among the charred corpses of his buddies in a napalmed village; sitting in the driver's compartment of a personnel carrier and hoping to God that one of the rockets he just heard being fired from the nearby tree line didn't have his name on it; his young black friend from Newark, New Jersey, where race riots were taking place and personnel carriers rolling down the street on which his family lived, asking "how does someone like you end up being in a place like this with someone like me?"
The author in a village with South Vietnamese children.
My Other Life is about Alexander's growing disillusionment about the war and how the U.S. was fighting it; the ineffectual search and destroy tactics and the use of "expendable" soldiers such as himself-as "bait"-who, day in and day out, were sent into the heavily mined and booby-trapped jungles and rice paddies in order to lure an otherwise elusive and often unseen enemy, into fighting. And for what? It's about Alexander feeling as if his luck had finally run out when after being discharged from the hospital and assigned to base camp for the final four months of his tour, he found himself back out in the field fighting at the beginning of the Tet Offensive. My Other Life is about the unimaginable horrors of war and the lingering emotional and psychological effects fighting in the war had on Alexander. It's about the unforeseen challenges Alexander faced upon returning home. How in the eyes of many-students mostly-returning vets were considered traitors, murderers . . . cowards . . . baby-killers. Finally, My Other Life is about the impact the war had on Alexander's family; his mother, father, sister, and brother and the triumph of his family over a war that tried to tear them apart.