Jack Stoddard introduces the reader to a special final resting place known as Fiddler’s Green. About halfway along the road to Hell, there lies a side road cut-off open only to members of the U.S. Army’s cavalry corps. It leads to a lovely encampment where these soldiers, both those who died in a battle somewhere, and those who have died after living for many years with the memories of their wars, can spend eternity with their comrades. Around their nightly campfires and in their six-man tents, the ghost-soldiers come to terms with the horrors of war and with the manner of their own deaths.
The story of how Sergeant Frank Saracino met his death in Vietnam in 1969 plays out against two backdrops. We meet the sergeant himself in his camp at Fiddler’s Green, where he can compare his experiences with those of men who fought in every conflict from the Civil War to Desert Storm. We also meet his family, a sister and a father struggling to understand why he died, and two of the surviving men from his unit who hold the answers to the family’s questions.
As in the case of a theater production that asks the playgoer to suspend his disbelief, so in this book the reader must accept the initial premise of the existence of a special kind of heaven reserved for cavalry soldiers, and their horses, too. If that idea offends, this may not be the book for you. The story itself, however, will ring true to every soldier who has survived the horrors of battle, and it will move those who have lost a loved one in warfare.
MWSA Reviewer: Carolyn Schriber
Most soldiers like Jon learned to keep his mouth shut and silently toast his fallen comrades once a year at the dinner table, or maybe even manage to slip away and journey to the nearest local veteran's cemetery on Memorial Day to see all of those tiny American flags lined up dress right dress, waving row upon row across the grassy manicured fields. Jon didn't listen to the speeches being made, but rather just looked glassy eyed across the green covered memorial park as his mind searched for the faces that he had long ago forgotten... Yes there is a special look in a soldier's eye that tells another soldier that he has been there and has been baptized by fire. We call it seeing the tiger. Jon has seen the tiger, and as Jon's hair turns gray, and his body wrinkles from age, his dear friend Frank who lives at Fiddler's Green will always remain that twenty-two year old kid wearing his black beret and flashing that big smile.