Unconventional Warfare (Special Forces, Book 1)

Written by Chris Lynch
Review by Thomas j. Howley

Danny Manion is a tough older brother with a polio-stricken, widower father. Danny feels the need to periodically beat up his two younger brothers to force them to grow up as tough as he thinks they should be. Ironically, he truly loves his father and siblings, but can’t bring himself to show that in a normal way. A gifted student, Danny also has a regrettable wild streak. When he is caught “borrowing” a classmate’s motorcycle, Danny must appear in court. He is accompanied by his wrestling coach—the wise, rugged and immensely well-respected, Mr. Macias. Since his past includes having absconded with a motorbike, a boat and a small twin-engine aircraft, the judge orders him to be jailed or else join the U.S. Marines. Mr. Macias asks to speak, and Danny believes he may get off yet again.

All too soon, Danny is astride an Asian elephant, nine feet off the ground crossing the Laotian border into the central highlands of Vietnam. He’s now a ranger-trained member of the U.S. Army’s Special Operation Group (SOG). Along with his new best friend, Gustavo Lopez, Danny and a small close-knit band of troops are under the command of Colonel Macias performing dangerous, secret and supposedly illegal operations in Vietnam, Laos and Thailand. Danny finds himself experiencing lightning-quick helicopter insertions into enemy territory, hellacious combat, and the loss of some of his comrades as he fights and also takes archival photographs.

Special Forces is an all-too-rare and wonderful coming-of-age tale, especially valuable for high school age boys. Danny becomes genuinely closer to his family, comes to love his teammates and even learns to respect and ironically admire his formidable enemies. And Col. Macias is the epitome of American manhood. Highly recommended!