Two Frogs

Standing Orders

by John Hooker
Date Reviewed: August 30, 2004

This is the story of David Andersen, a young Australian who joins the Army in the 50’s, and fights in the Korean War. It is exceptionally well-written, and the characters are complex and interesting. David lives with ghosts from his past, and is forever picking up new ones along the way. Hooker pulls no punches in describing the horrors of war – it is gruesome and fierce and dirty and smelly and horrific. Even with everything David goes through (and I don’t want to give too much away), he still says he’d do it all again, that it’s worth it. That spirit of commitment to the cause is part of what I admire in soldiers. Their willingness to sacrifice so much ennobles them, and turns those teenagers and twenty-something’s into heroes, whether they take the title or not. David is no exception. Most intriguing is the struggle he has to re-integrate himself into civilian life, and his longing for the structure and orderliness of military life, even with its horrors and death and killing. I wish I knew someone else who had read this book, so we could talk about why the ending happened the way it did.

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