Nam Sense - Arthur Wiknik, Jr.

Nam Sense

By Arthur Wiknik, Jr.

  • Release Date: 2005-07-19
  • Genre: History
Score: 4.5
From 91 Ratings


Nam-Sense is the brilliantly written story of a combat squad leader in the 101st Airborne Division. Arthur Wiknik was a 19-year-old kid from New England when he was drafted into the U.S. Army in 1968. After completing various NCO training programs, he was promoted to sergeant "without ever setting foot in a combat zone" and sent to Vietnam in early 1969. Shortly after his arrival on the far side of the world, Wiknik was assigned to Camp Evans, a mixed-unit base camp near the northern village of Phong Dien, only thirty miles from Laos and North Vietnam. On his first jungle patrol, his squad killed a female Viet Cong who turned out to have been the local prostitute. It was the first dead person he had ever seen. Wiknik's account of life and death in Vietnam includes everything from heavy combat to faking insanity to get some R & R. He was the first man in his unit to reach the top of Hamburger Hill during one of the last offensives launched by U.S. forces, and later discovered a weapons cache that prevented an attack on his advance fire support base. Between the sporadic episodes of combat he mingled with the locals, tricked unwitting U.S. suppliers into providing his platoon with a year of hard to get food, defied a superior and was punished with a dangerous mission, and struggled with himself and his fellow soldiers as the anti-war movement began to affect his ability to wage victorious war. Nam-Sense offers a perfect blend of candor, sarcasm, and humor - and it spares nothing and no one in its attempt to accurately convey what really transpired for the combat soldier during this unpopular war. Nam-Sense is not about heroism or glory, mental breakdowns, haunting flashbacks, or wallowing in self-pity. The GIs Wiknik lived and fought with during his yearlong tour did not rape, murder, or burn villages, were not strung out on drugs, and did not enjoy killing. They were there to do their duty as they were trained, support their comrades - and get home alive. "The soldiers I knew," explains the author, "demonstrated courage, principle, kindness, and friendship, all the elements found in other wars Americans have proudly fought in." Wiknik has produced a gripping and complete record of life and death in Vietnam, and he has done so with a style and flair few others will ever achieve. Nam Sense received Honorable Mention in the 2010 Military Writers Society of America


  • Bam Sense

    By Airport friendly
    Most every soldier finds a way to cope with the totally alien experience of combat and the omnipresence of death lurking behind every bush. Some never find a way to cope and end up purposely wounding themselves or going AWOL. The author managed to stray alive despite Hamburger Hill and countless ambush patrols. He even survived Lt Cramer (assuming the name is fictitious) and the lieutenant’s orders that needlessly endangered the men under his command. The author was certainly not what many would describe as a model soldier, but he could be counted on to have his fellow soldiers safety in mind in all that he did. People like to believe in the romantic notion that soldiers fight for their country, patriots all the way. The truth is evidenced in this book that they fight for each other first; they fight to return home in one piece. Every other reason falls in line far behind these two. The author had a few very close friends and he fought alongside them, fought for them as well as for himself.
  • Pretty good, if cloying at times.

    By RiccoV
    The book was as good as the many others I’ve read over the years and I recommend it. My main criticism is of the author’s self-congratulatory episodes and general tone throughout the book. He makes it clear, at least in his mind, that all officers and senior NCOs were fools and unwilling to be educated by the wisdom of a “Shake ‘n’ bake” NCO draftee. He offers no example of how he might have been mistaken or even an episode where another GI acted with bravery or even intelligence. Sad. I was most disgusted by a final scene where the author tacitly approves of a “fragging”, or the act of an enlisted man killing an officer.
  • Outstanding

    By North-Light
    Infomative, enligting, to the point…….an easy read of events and atitiud. (Former USAFSgt) William McMAhon 377th CSG, 377th SPS. 1Nov67-1Nov68
  • Nam Sense

    By Sandburg1060
    Very wel written. The book goes into the mind of the soldier more so than normal blood, guts, and glory. I felt he did a nice job of relaying the modern day struggles every troop faced and the constant bouts of homesickness and depression. Another great book I have read that is much like this one is "THE PROMISE" by KEN HOLLINGSWORTH. If you want a real touch of what the war was like for an army grunt and a Marine grunt read these two books.