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Wandering Souls: Journey with the Dead and Living in Viet Nam

by Wayne Karlin, Nation Books, 2009

 Vietnam veteran and author Wayne Karlin has crafted a dramatic account of the combat experience of platoon leader 1st Lt. Homer Steedly and how it shaped a young man’s life for decades. Centered around Steedly’s first kill during a chance encounter while on a jungle recon mission in 1969, Karlin traces the common trajectory of warriors coming to grips with their past. But Karlin and Steedly go several steps further as the result of Steedly’s impulsive desire to save some remnant of the man he kills— papers pulled from the body that he sends home to his mother, not to be rediscovered until 35 years later. These papers reveal to Steedly the life behind the soldier he had killed—a North Vietnamese Army medic and aspiring physician—and launch Steedly, and Karlin, on an extraordinary and moving mission in search of peace and redemption.


Originally published in the February 2010 issue of Vietnam. To subscribe, click here