Get Out of the Way
Author: Daniel Dinges
Publisher: Tate Publishing (2010)
Binding: Perfect Paperback, 280 pages
As Tom Daniels waits to be seen at the nearest VA hospital in 2006, he flashes back to his two years of service during the Vietnam years.
Although he does not support the War in 1968, a "Newsweek" article convinces him that his chances for staying out of combat are good, so he volunteers to be drafted. Just after his first year anniversary in the Army, Tom is ordered to Vietnam, but his Colonel gets his transfer cancelled to keep Tom working as a programmer on base. Tom's best friend deploys instead.
Five months later, after Tom is married, he has a nightmare in which his buddy is wounded in combat. Tom realizes how guilty he feels about his friend shipping out.
Suddenly the reverie is over and it's 2006 again. Tom sees a lone veteran in a wheelchair next to the far wall in the waiting room of the VA Hospital. The vet looks a lot like his long lost buddy.
In Get Out of the Way, author Daniel Dinges takes us back to the 1960's and through the life of his main character, Thomas Daniels, tells us a story of a young man that believed in serving his country but did not believe in the war going on in Vietnam. This conflict of thinking helped to determine a lot of choices that he made about his future. Thomas had many family members who had served in the military and he was proud of that fact. However, he could not see himself "over there" in the jungles killing people. So, for a length of time, Thomas played the college deferment "game" of signing up for a full load of classes, getting his deferment, and then dropping classes so he could work and this cycle repeated itself for a number of semesters. He eventually let his deferment drop and voluntarily walked in and "turned himself in" to the draft board.
The text to self connection that I made with this book was one that has resulted from having a son who served eight years in the U.S. Marine Corps. My son enlisted in 2001 and during his service time he never received orders to go to a war zone. He traveled the world to many other places but did not see either Iran or Afghanistan. Did he volunteer himself to join a combat unit? No, he served to support the troops in other ways. I believe, just as Thomas Daniels in Get Out of the Way, they both have that sense of "Did I do my part?" when they know how many sacrificed their lives. This is something they live with the rest of their lives. I think that many of our veterans are truly affected emotionally whether they saw action or not.
Today we are living with many veterans dealing with numerous issues on a daily basis. This story about Thomas Daniels can open up a lot of conversation regarding memories of serving our country in the army (or any branch of service). Get Out of the Way reads as a nonfiction book reminding of us of the 1960's and the Cultural Revolution that was happening in our country during that time. The fact that Daniel Dinges served in the HHC 22nd FASCOM during the late sixties would bring the reader to believe that there probably is a lot more fact than fiction in this book.
Readers who appreciate the following topics would enjoy Get Out of the Way: the Vietnam War, the sixties, historical fiction, Vietnam Veterans, active military, military history, and even early computer programming. Daniel Dinges quickly pulls the reader into the life of his character Thomas Daniel and pages keep turning to find out which direction he takes in different areas of his life. The fact that this character could be your brother, son, grandson, uncle, nephew, or the like, and that we all know someone who has experienced military service keeps the reader involved. Daniel Dinges has done a great job with his first book and his dedication reads: "To the generation for whom stories like this are just the way things were."
Reviewed by: Joyce Gilmour (2010)