Eyes of the Blind
Author: John W. Huffman
Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform (2013)
Binding: Paperback, 344 pages
There are some casualties of war that we rarely account for. Sometimes when an ineffective leader is caught in his own distorted views/actions of rank at the risk of his soldiers’ lives, then the removal or reassignment of that soldier could be considered a casualty of war. Eyes of the Blind explores this aspect of war with humor and thought provoking reflection on personal responsibility. It takes a great bit of courage to see the beam in our own eye while insisting on pointing out the speck in another’s eye. John Huffman dares to write about the blindness we all carry through war. This blindness is not restricted to the Vietnam War or any war for that matter. However, it takes others to help us see our own blindness… even if we are the hero or heroine.
His writing is insightful and delightfully crafted to draw the reader into the ugliness of war while maneuvering us into exploring and untangling our own truth. If our blindness is healed, war experiences almost always inspire us to a higher wisdom. The book explores the gray areas of choices we are forced to make in and beyond combat. The characters, even the heroes and heroines, all have their flaws, grace and blindness.
The characters of the book occasionally outmaneuver the reader with their humanness, vulnerabilities and blindness. For example, after being humbled by another sergeant, the narrator (while recovering from his third purple heart which ironically included temporary blindness) admits to his nurse and the reader: I sank back glumly. “I just made a total ass out of myself… he’s right, I was so upset seeing one of my men hurt and feeling guilty because I’m not out there with them, I took it out on Jay.” She smiled. “Well, as you infantry types say when you’re out maneuvered, fall back and regroup…”
The book is powerful, truly inspiring, and a fun read. The training gleaned from Eyes of the Blind would have helped me tremendously while ministering to the casualties of Bravo Surgical in Fallujah Iraq (2004-2005). It will definitely help me in ministering to the survivors ten years later. As the Top suggested to the soldier, “Sometimes war causes wounds in the soul as much as the body.” He observed, “It sounds like your friend wants to be around people he can trust, and who expect nothing from him. I think he’s got some serious healing to do.”
Reviewed by: Ron Camarda (2014)
Eyes of the Blind is a forceful saga set in the Vietnam conflict’s initial phase as support for the war effort wanes amidst the media coverage’s most exploitive stage. Following his second battle wound in Operation Attleboro, young Private Delarosa earns his way out of combat, but becomes entangled in his best friend Jay Sharpe’s driving desire to remain in the infantry and signs a waiver to remain on the line. Together, the two rapidly rise in rank while enduring a downward spiral in moral as political agendas replace aggressive military tactics, chronicling the best and worst of that difficult era.