The last in his Vietnam War trilogy that began with The Basic Training of Pavlo Hummel and Sticks and Bones,  it focuses on the interactions and personal conflicts of a group of soldiers preparing to ship out to fight in the Southeast Asian conflict in 1965. Among them are middle class African American Roger, upper class Manhattanite Richie, who is struggling with his sexual orientation, conservative Wisconsin country boy Billy, and fearful loose cannon Carlyle, a streetwise black. In charge of their barracks are abrasive alcoholic Sgt. Cokes, who already has served overseas, and aggressive Sgt. Rooney, who is anxious to get into combat.
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