Lieutenant Dangerous Audio Book Review

Lieutenant Dangerous: A Vietnam War Memoir

Authored and Narrated by Jeff Danziger

Audiobook, 5 hours and 43 minutes

Published by Steerforth

Language: English

ASIN: B0979N77JY

Jeff Danziger is probably better known as a political cartoonist, but earlier in life he was drafted into the U.S. Army and did a tour in Vietnam.  Like many draftees, he was a reluctant participant.  His story is not an epic tale of combat heroism, Danziger readily volunteers that one of his primary motivations was to wait out his term of service without having to deploy to Vietnam.

To that end, he parlayed his high aptitude scores into assignments to a series of specialized training schools, all of which he hoped would preclude him having enough time left to actually be sent overseas.  He attended a year-long program to learn to speak Vietnamese, an irony not lost upon him.  While he was able to master the basics, Vietnamese is a tonal language and his instructors spoke the Southern dialect, not the version predominantly used in the North by the NVA.  An opportunity for Officers’ training presented itself after language school, and Danzinger was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant.  Then on to more training as an Officer.

Rotations to Vietnam were to last a year, and with a year left in his time in the Army Danzinger’s machinations failed and he was sent to Vietnam as an ordinance officer.  Eventually he sent a letter to his Representative questioning why the Army trained him in the Vietnamese language but employed him replacing artillery tubes, which resulted in some chewing-outs but reassignment as an Intelligence Officer.

In the wide range of Vietnam memoirs in print today, this one is unique as it was written by someone who had no real desire to serve and makes no bones about it.  It is cynical but honest, and Danzinger’s style is very tongue-in-cheek which makes it an enjoyable read.  There are several “why are we doing this?” moments which will be familiar to anyone who has been in the military.  This is a different perspective on military service, written by someone who was just trying to get through their enlistment.  If you’re looking for a combat memoir this is not your book, but it is interesting nonetheless.

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2 thoughts on “Lieutenant Dangerous Audio Book Review

  1. As someone that’s spent decades poring through soldier’s accounts, from the Roman army up to present day, it’s nice to see one published about modern service that isn’t heroic. That viewpoint is just as valid, in terms of the social history of the military, as those who did great deeds. Perhaps not as inspiring, but still valid as a cross-section of those that served.

    (FWIW, one of my favorites are two journals/diaries of two Confederates from Kentucky, not only in the same unit, but in the same “mess”. What are the odds of that? What makes it hilarious in spots is how each writes about the other:
    “He’s so lazy and such a faker, won’t hit a lick at any work. Getting to where I can’t stand him.”
    “I’ve been so sick, and my mess mate is so mean, he’s being hateful.”
    It serves as a great example that not all primary source documents are unbiased. 🙂 )

    Liked by 1 person

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