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Loon: A Marine Story
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Loon: A Marine Story

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3.91 of 5 stars 3.91  ·  rating details  ·  171 ratings  ·  28 reviews
Jack McLean was not the average Vietnam grunt. Raised in suburban New Jersey, he attended the esteemed Phillips Andover Academy alongside George W. Bush, all the while pursuing a predictably privileged path. Nearing graduation in the spring of 1966, however, McLean decided on a different direction. At a time when his classmates were making plans to attend the country’s mos ...more
Hardcover, 256 pages
Published May 19th 2009 by Presidio Press (first published January 1st 2009)
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Larry Bassett
Jul 25, 2013 Larry Bassett rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommended to Larry by: Terry
Shelves: war, memoir
My daughter Anna and author Jack McLean had something in common. They each decided that there was something important s/he wanted to do before beginning college. Anna wanted to go to Cambodia and work in an orphanage. Jack wanted to join the Marines and serve in Vietnam. Each one took the time to pursue and reach their goal. Eventually, with the goal achieved, Anna went to the University of Virginia and Jack went to Harvard.

This is another story about Vietnam. It is not a novel. It is nonfiction
...more
Jeanette
Its style is hard to get into, as this author is not a writer. Most of it seems in a voice rather detached and stilted, from decades later than the events. And that aspect and affect dropped my interest considerably by the half way point of this book. Still, it is a very easy read, although I found that I could not linger in the Loon stand.

Being of that era and prime year for nearly every male of my age that I knew to be drafted, I found some of his judgments and conclusions about who went and
...more
Eric_W
A disappointing purchase and way over-priced.

One of the really positive benefits of the self-publishing revolution has been the number of memoirs being published. Obviously many not polished, but interesting and of considerable historical value. Some are very good, indeed. Others less so. This one felt like a book one expects to have been self published; I looked, and was surprised to see the Random House imprint.

Mclean, who was at Andover with George Bush, (of National Guard and cocaine fame,)
...more
Brinn Colenda
Wow! I have seen a lot of war movies and read a lot of war books...Loon ranks up there with the very best.

In 1967, Jack McLean enlisted in the Marines right out of a prestigious prep school rather than go to college. The book is about the path he took at the height of the Vietnam War which took him into combat as an infantryman.

McLean is an articulate and perceptive writer (having later attended Harvard) and spins a great memoir. He captures the essence (and dissonance) of what the war was like
...more
Scott Whitmore
Having finished Loon: A Marine Story by Jack McLean just a few hours ago, I was frankly at a loss as to how to start this review. Adjectives such as “exceptional” and “sublime” are accurate enough, and yet somehow do not convey the depth of my enjoyment and admiration for this memoir of a young man who left a life of comfort and privilege to enlist in the United States Marine Corps at a time when combat duty in Vietnam was all but certain.

Finally, I decided to rely on my own years in uniform and
...more
Scottnshana
"Loon" is short, considering it's compilation of Viet Nam experience, conveyed initially in letters home that the author had let marinate for 35 years before typing up as memoir. It is a uniquely American story--from the privileged Baby Boomer adolescence through elite prep school, with station wagons and "Leave it to Beaver"--right up to the moment McLean opts to enlist in the Marine Corps. There he finds moral dilemmas and the "cooperate and graduate" socialization of Basic Training, as well a ...more
Laura
McLean pulls you right into the jungles of Vietnam with his memoir. It is compelling, gripping and humbling to read of the horrors of a war that was played out by our young men. No matter what you think or thought of the Vietnam War, this is a must read. The only way to sum it up is to say thank you to McLean and all of the others that answered the call to duty.
Steve Woods
This is a very straightforward memoir by an infantry corporal. There are no histrionics but it has none the less impact for that, it's honesty carries it. The man was no doubt a matter of fact soldier who knew his craft and simply got on with it like so many I knew. There is no crying in the beer but reading between the lines, his tour of duty cost him as it did almost anyone who saw combat there. I did not serve in the area of the country where he saw his service though having spent time in tho ...more
Luke
I really enjoyed Loon. It's a pretty typical memoir, told from the eyes of Jack McLean who was the first Vietnam veteran to attend Harvard after serving in Vietnam. It's a very well written book. It doesn't dwell on anything too long and does a great job of mixing informative back-story with compelling firsthand narrative. Many times, memoirs get bogged down in one area of the author's history that he really wants to explore, and consequentially the entirety of his reading audience is forced to ...more
Eliza
8/9/2012: "Loon" is fascinating as much for what it DOESN'T tell as for what it does. McLean published this memoir in 2009, about his experiences as a U.S. Marine during the Vietnam War (1966-69). He says that he leaned heavily on letters he'd written home for a lot of the narrative--which makes sense, since he's writing 40 years after the events he describes. But there is so much he glosses over; while he marvels at the horror and terror and grief he experienced, and even gives some gory detail ...more
Sheila
An very well written look at the Vietnam war through the eyes on one young Marine. I was born in the late 1960's, so was just a baby and toddler during Vietnam, but I have always been interested in this time period and in this war. Mr. McLean's book gives an insider's look at one part of this war, and shows with honesty what life was like before, during and after this time. All of our veteran's from Vietnam deserve our honor and respect, something they were not given when they returned home year ...more
Jason
Jack McLean's Vietnam memoir looks at his tour as a Marine at the height of the America's involvement in the war. The book is from a fairly unique perspective; McLean enlisted after prep school, taking a route that most of his classmates avoided.

McLean splits his time between introspection and full-on machismo. The former lends some poignant moments to the narrative, especially near the end, as he looks back at the emotional wounds. The latter — which pops up mostly when McLean writes about his
...more
José
I have the privilege of being a member of a book club led by the author. What is unique about Jack's memoir is that it's as much a chronicle of the times and places of his journey as it is about his own experiences. The story begins by jumping ahead to the climactic battle that gives the book its title, only to rewind the clock for the purpose of pacing us through the formative Andover days, the crucible of basic training, and the horrors of Vietnam. Infused with humor, it's a war memoir that st ...more
Su
Oct 01, 2009 Su rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: everyone over age 10
Recommended to Su by: first reads
I was fortunate to receive this book as a "first reads" and probably would not have picked this off the bookshelf.After finishing this book, I find myself wanting to discuss what the author so eloquently writes in the last chapter.I was old enough to know what the news told me about Viet Nam, but not really engaged in what was going on in 1968. Jack McLean's account of his experiences are heartfelt and gripping. Although his descrption of the battle at LZ Loon are realistically sickening, his n ...more
Walter Stevens
It covers McLean's 2 years in the Marines (1 year in Vietnam), as well as a smattering about his schooling prior (Andover) and his entering Harvard after.

The writing style isn't bad - it communicates his experiences well. Given the hints he drops about how it carried this history with him form any years, I expected some coverage of that, or some reflection on the experience beyond some hints of why it may have been not a great war for the US to have jumped into. Although perhaps this is because
...more
Timothy Griffin
This is one of those books you can't put down once you start reading it. It is the moving and beautifully written true story of a young man who spent a year in Vietnam in 1968 and was forever changed by the experience. Jack McLean buried his time in the USMC in the back of his mind for more than thirty years before he was able to put pen to paper. Based on his recollections and on the many letters he wrote to his family, this story is as raw and fresh as if he had written it as soon as he return ...more
Elizabeth Kilbride
"Loon" is a Marine's story about his life and military career in a place called Vietnam. From his humble beginnings to the jungle of Nam, Jack McLean's riveting memoir will open your eyes. Many of his Andover classmates took a different path in life as they avoided going to war but McLean came from stronger stock and enlisted in the Marine Corps. After thirty years of suppressing his emotions, McLean looks back at the invisible wounds he suffered and the end result is worth reading about in this ...more
Kwoomac
I thought I would like thias book more. true story of a boy (18 yrs old) who enlisted in the marine corps after highschool rather than enroll in college. Unusual choice since he went to Phillips Andover (same year as "W") I liked the whole bootcamp experience but his descriptions of being in-country were harder to follow. Also, having read Chickenhawk prior to this, I expected more. What was interesting was comparing this author's life with Chickenhawk author's life after Vietnam.
Andy
An intimate look into the Vietnam war experience of this atypical Marine. Jack McLean was unlike many of his fellow soldiers in that he had a privileged upbringing and was on-track to attend college (in fact attending Harvard after his service). It describes his background, training and pivots around the battle for LZ Loon (1968)where two companies fought a much larger force.
Keith Raffel
Written by a college classmate of mine (whom I didn't know in college and still don't). While the rest of us freshmen were finishing up our last two years of high school, the author was in the US Marines. While we worried about SAT scores and the prom, he was concerned with dead and wounded comrades in arms. An eye-opener for sure.
Pat Dugan
As a former Combat Veteran with the United States Marine Corps (Vietnam 1966-1967) as a machine gunner in the Infantry, I highly recommend this book! In Marine Corps talk, It is OUTSTANDING!
Semper Fi Jack McLean!!
Pat Dugan USMC (Ret.)
0331 Infantry
Daven
Interesting perspective on one Marine's experiences in Vietnam - McLean chose to enlist, forgoing many other opportunities. Not a tremendously enlightening account, but cleanly written for a quick and engaging read.
Jon
A well-written book about an amazing two-years in the Marines. The author revisits his war experineces after more than 30 years have passed.
Nate
A pretty typical Marine authored memoir, recounting his decision to join the Corps, Boot Camp, War, and Afterward. Moving nonetheless.
Christopher Green
great book, almost as if i was living this man's life thru a book... all the tears and pain and death he saw, great book
Carol
Excellent true story of a young man from a privileged family who enlists in Marines just as the Vietnam War is excalating.
Amy
Easy read and very educational.
Susan Baker
Definitely not a girlie book!
Berserkr
Berserkr marked it as to-read
Jan 24, 2015
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