Sunday, January 6, 2019

David Drake

The Army took David Drake from Duke Law School and sent him on a motorized tour of Viet Nam and Cambodia with the 11th Cav, the Blackhorse. He learned new skills, saw interesting sights, and met exotic people who hadn’t run fast enough to get away.

Drake returned to become Chapel Hill’s Assistant Town Attorney and to try to put his life back together through fiction making sense of his Army experiences.

He describes war from where he saw it: the loader’s hatch of a tank in Cambodia. Drake's military experience, combined with his formal education in history and Latin, has made him one of the foremost writers of realistic action SF and fantasy. His bestselling Hammer’s Slammers series is credited with creating the genre of modern Military SF. He often wishes he had a less interesting background.

Drake's new novel is The Storm.

Recently I asked the author about what he was reading. Drake's reply:
A Bright Shining Lie/Neil Sheehan

I'm a Nam vet--drafted out of Duke Law School in 1968 and sent to War Zone C, then Cambodia, with the 11th Armored Cavalry. I read memoirs of participants in the war, but rarely histories. I was given this book by a friend.

Sheehan was In Country as a correspondent and was a friend of John Paul Vann, the subject of this biography. Vann was a committed anti-communist and believed in the war--but not in the way the war was fought by number-crunchers like McNamara and his boss, Lyndon Johnson; or by the military brass like General Westmoreland who acted as McNamara's surrogate and toady.

This is a different view of the war than I got as a grunt at the sharp end, but it's very much the same stupid war.

The Dream Of Arcadia/Van Wyck Brooks

The experiences of American writers and artists in Italy during the 19th century and how that shaped them. This is a different view of people whom I'm familiar with as Americans.

I've recently visited Central Italy, so it was interesting to read of Thomas Cole discussing his Course of Empire in the gardens of the Villa Borghese where I too chatted with a friend, or realized that the apartment which we rented in Rome must be quite near where the writer F Marion Crawford (now famous for a few horror stories) grew up with his father, the sculptor Thomas Crawford.
Visit David Drake's website.

--Marshal Zeringue