There it is, and It don’t mean nothin’ are two phrases the grunts used to describe their situation in Vietnam. The first covered the insanity, and the second, the result.

At the request of his daughters, Charles Hensler set out to write a brief summary of his time in Vietnam. The project evolved into a cathartic journey, resulting in a compelling, heartfelt memoir. Weaving threads of the events back home throughout his personal story, Hensler skillfully sets a scene integral to understanding how he and his compatriots felt in Vietnam in 1968, a year of transition. A year many Americans turned their backs on the war, and in a way, on those who fought in it.

Hensler tells his story in a relatable way, creating a memoir with broad appeal. He held several occupations, giving an opportunity to understand many aspects of the war through his eyes. Through these varied roles, he was able to connect with locals on a different level than most troops. His recollection of these unlikely friendships is sincere and real.

Hensler deftly paints scenes, some bloody and some beautiful. He reveals conflicted feelings about being in Vietnam, and how his experiences there affected him for years after his tour finished. He tells it all in a conversational tone, reminding us throughout of the personal nature of the project— explaining to his daughters a part of their father they never knew. Hensler’s memoir, in his words, was a journey retaken and in some ways, finally completed.

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