The Funny Thing About War

Written by Al Campo
Review by Lisa Sheehan

The Funny Thing About War, Al Campo’s big, warm-hearted, and often quite funny debut novel, centers on twenty-two-year-old Chris Columbo, a smart, promising candidate for officer material in the US Navy who resigns his ROTC scholarship in a fit of strong emotion over a love affair gone sour.

His life bottoms out in his despair, but is jolted back into motion when Chris receives orders from the Navy to report for active duty on the USS Lawrence, a guide missile destroyer sailing into hostile waters off the coasts of Vietnam.

Campo, who served aboard the real-life Lawrence, very effectively uses his personal experiences to give color and verisimilitude to the various adventures Chris has as he acclimates to both life onboard a serving vessel and life at sea in a time of war. The sparkle of Campo’s prose is infectious, and although his plotting is slightly mechanical at times, the novel in general is very winning.