Far from being tedious, I couldn't put this book down when it first came out. The author's thesis reflected my own experience growing up in the '60's and 70's (1974 HS grad), knowing many vets, including relatives and friends, who did not resemble the phony "bush vet" stereotype emerging in TV and film. I served in the Marine Corps 1981-84 after college as a Lt. in the infantry, and again, among the many vets I served with, I knew no one with the "whacked out vet" persona.
I became a police officer in 1985, and in the ensuing 20 plus years I have encountered scores of phony "traumatized" vets among the alcoholics, drug addicts and petty criminals living by choice at the margins of society. The symptoms are as noted: secret special forces ops, classified service records, an inability to respond intelligibly to questions about unit, MOS, places of service in-country, sob-inducing stories of atrocities committed, etc. As reviewers have noted, one's unit & MOS are things that are pretty ingrained(I spent the bulk of my tour with Bravo Co., 1st Battalion, 9th Marines, attached to 1st Marines, 1st Mar Div, FMF Pac at Camp Pendleton... MOS: 0302, Infantry Ofc. Total decorations: one Sea Service Deployment Ribbon). I don't know how many times I had to explain to a self decribed Viet vet what the acronym MOS meant, and then the reply would be generic or nonsensical. I have always been explicit that I never saw combat (in fact, I was on Okinawa on a West Pac deployment when Grenada and the bombing of the barracks in Beirut occured), believing that to claim that experience would be a dishonorable lie,and a slap in the face to those who did. This, I always felt compelled to dissect the lies of these phony vets, so at least they would understand there was at least one person they hadn't conned. And perhaps in the process, I wanted in some way to speak up for the genuine Vietnam veterans.
It's telling that this is one of the books that has received hundreds of reviews, indicating it has struck a significant nerve. The syndrome it describes is, I believe, just another manifestation of a narcissistic culture of celebrity victimhood that encourages identification with a false self, an inflated ego image, rather than encourage the authentic suffering entailed by a search for one's true self and authentic identity. These phony "whacked out" vets are simply creating their own version of the kind of manipulative celebrity persona which has been increasingly and pervasively glorified in our culture.
I have to comment briefly on the negative reviews I read; I also have the sense that some people seemingly read a different book. For one, the author went out of his way to describe himself as a rear echelon pogue, complete with photo in clean starched utilities during his Vietnam tour.
Moreover, I'm pretty independent politically (voted for Carter, Reagan, Bush, Clinton, Bush, Kerry)& I didn't get the powerful conservative OR liberal bias that some reviewers have criticized.
At the same time I understand the psychological and emotional consequnces of traumatic experiences,and I don't suggest that disorders like PTSD don't exist, nor do I beleive the author is doing so.(I'm currently working on my thsis for a Master's in Counseling Psychology).
In sum, this book is a great public service, and I congratulate the authors for their courage and perseverance in bringing it forth.