Vietnam veteran and author E. Franklin Evans has captured something very special in his personal war memoir, "Stand To...A Journey to Manhood". We get a good glimpse back into the life and times of a "young man" caught in the vortex of war. The reader is treated to a well written accounting of his experiences surviving both the traumas of battles and people. It is historic, personal and entertaining.
This is one of this decade's "Top 10 Best Memoirs" on the Vietnam War experience. The story is emotionally presented through the eyes of a young Army officer - but it is clearly written with the introspection of a much older author. He looks back at that time and place in his life in an attempt to understand and come to grips with these events. It is truly a journey and one that most readers will find well worth taking with this author.
The book gives us some insights on what it was like in one of the remote Special Forces Camps. The readers will find themselves fully engaged and on the edge of their seats as they read about the heavy fighting that took place in and around these camps. The book is about life and death and about those brave young men who lived and died a long time ago. But it is obvious that these events for men like Evans, will never seem that long ago. In their hearts and minds it is just like it happened yesterday.
This book gets my fullest personal endorsement and recommendation.
Review by Bill McDonald, MWSA Reviewer & former President (July 2009)
"Stand To--A Journey to Manhood" is not just another Vietnam War book filled with clichés about this most misunderstood war. I can almost recite some of the stereotypes about the war that I have read in other books/memoirs. This is fresh, this is new. A memoir of a young Lt. Frank Evans, infantry officer, who started as a grunt officer and ended his tour of duty with the Special Forces at the battle of Ben Het. This battle was the only battle between American forces where enemy tanks also took part.
But, what made me really like this book? The humor that the author was able to inject into the story. His knife fight with a Christmas turkey, fighting Viet Cong elephants, and an elusive VC chicken, all made this otherwise serious look at the daily grind and terror that the average infantryman went through an enjoyable diversion. But, when the author needed to take you into the heat of the battle, especially Ben Het, he did so with great detail.
The book is 260 pages with 34 very much appreciated short chapters, and has many personal photos that the author was able to bring home.
This is an outstanding book. Deserves the highest rating from MWSA.
Reviewed by: Jim Stewart (2008)
E. Franklin Evans had watched every war movie John Wayne ever made, sometimes several times over. When the “Duke” led his men, war was exciting and heroes were made as they ruggedly fought and predictably won each battle. But when Evans’ high school friend and real-life hero Glenn was killed in Vietnam, war became real and personal for Evans, and he felt a tremendous obligation to the buddy who gave his life in that faraway jungle.
At the tender age of nineteen, Evans voluntarily enlisted in the U.S. Army and left for basic training in early December of 1966. Before long, he was deeply entrenched in a treacherous war, far removed from his innocent and carefree youth. He had to learn not only to survive but also to muster the bravery to lead others in combat as he was thrust from adolescence into adulthood.
It has taken Evans more than thirty-five years to begin to heal the physical and emotional wounds that kept him from sharing his intensely personal story. From his depiction of the picturesque aerial view of Cam Rahn Bay to that of the barbed wire, metal planking, and squat huts housing weapons of death and destruction, Evans’s Stand To …provides a vividly detailed glimpse into what it was like to become a man on the battlefields of Vietnam.