Here's what the reviewers are saying about A Bad Attitude.
The Bookmonger, Sunday, December 8, 2002:
A Bad Attitude is an edgy and bitterly funny tale about an American soldier's life in Vietnam during the height of the war there.
Farnsworth is the hero, of sorts. He's the kind of guy who managed to find a series of loopholes to avoid being drafted for five years. He may be a slacker in some regards, but when he's finally sent to Vietnam and assigned a desk job, he's immensely capable.
The only problem is he doesn't suffer fools gladly, particularly gung-ho military fools, so when a corrupt and sadistic sergeant becomes his immediate superior, Farnsworth quietly rebels -- and finds himself in the most danger he's been in since coming to Southeast Asia.
For all of the brutality it exposes, this novel is also compassionate and howlingly funny. A Bad Attitude tackles institutionalized racism and a cynical military bureaucracy. It is as worthwhile a satire on the Vietnam War as Catch 22 and M*A*S*H were for the armed conflicts of earlier times.
Author Dennis Mansker has drawn upon his own experience as a Vietnam vet for at least some of the material in this book. Now a grandfather who designs Web pages for the state of Washington, Mansker might seriously consider giving up his day job and writing full time if he can keep turning out stuff as terrific as this.
The Bookmonger is Barbara Lloyd McMichael, who writes a weekly column in a number of Washington state newspapers focusing on the books, authors and publishers of the Pacific Northwest. She can be contacted at email@example.com.
Reviews posted by readers on Amazon.com:
Kevin Hill, Olympia, WA: A Bad Attitude (Four Stars)
Going to War you expect your life to be in Mortal Danger; but not from the chain of command. Not your typical war story. A murder mystery in a place where normal rules of conduct do not apply. Authentic G.I. dialogue in a real place, once upon a time. Friction between the ranks and between the races with a well developed range of suspects with understandable motives. If a crime, then one of revenge? self preservation? or a more noble motive. An excellent suspense tale of good men in a bad situation.
Linda Becker, Seattle, WA: Gritty, funny and timely (Four Stars)
This book is very funny - The dialogue will make you wish there was more. But the serious side, about the race riots in the Long Binh Jail is good, and the portrayal of racism is also riveting.
As a psuedo-intellectual, if I had had to go to Vietnam, this would probably be my story too. So we have Farnsworth to tell it. It's about the company clerk who gets in over his head - he would have been like "Radar" on MASH, except it wasn't like that in Vietnam.
Robert H. Lee, Redding, CA: Been there, done that (Five Stars)
Mr.Mansker has provided the reading world with a fine murder mystery based on a familiar problem of the era. ...I could all but smell the dust during his descriptive and accurate tales that he provides. Brovo Dennis, and thanks for writing our story.
Charles A. Sims, San Marcos, TX: Catch 22 (Five Stars)
A Bad Attitude is a real page-turner. If this book gets any kind of publicity at all, and is read by a few influential reviewers, it has the possibility of being listed in the top twenty books about the Vietnam War. A Bad Attitude is a work of fiction. Or is it? I guess the hallmark of really good fiction is when the reader finishes the work and isn't really sure if what he has just read is fiction, a true story or somewhere in between.
Dennis Mansker is the real thing. He served as a company clerk with two truck companies from the 48th Group during 68/69 and is a member of the Army Transportation Assn. Vietnam. The main character in the book is Spec. 4 Farnsworth. Farnsworth is the new company clerk of the 345th Trans, 6th Battalion, 48th Group. The 345th is truck company. Don't expect a lot of convoy action in this book. Farnsworth only makes a few convoys as a shotgun and then only as punishment by the evil First Sgt. Bragg.
However, the language and dialog is authentic and if you are a Vietnam vet, it will take you back to Vietnam. You will need to dust off your old pigeon Vietnamese/English/G.I.language skills to follow the
conversations. You bic G.I. Dennis makes no attempt to explain the gag lines to the uninitiated reader. This is a book for Vietnam vets by a Vietnam vet and if you didn't serve; you're not going to understand all the "short" jokes and Dennis isn't going to explain them to you. You just had to be there. From my perspective, that's good news. A Bad Attitude is not watered down by pages of explanations to non-vets, which hamper many Vietnam books. A Bad Attitude has many of the same elements as Catch 22. This is a serious book at 635 pages.
- Michael Craig, IA: An outstanding tour of a little known part of the Vietnam war (Five Stars)
I spent the last half of the 60's safe in the Navy on the other side of the world from Vietnam but, having lost a lot of friends there, I have read a lot of fiction and non-fiction about the war in an effort to better understand it. This is one of the best. It gives you a great understanding of the life in the "rear" and the people that populated it, from the best to the worst. Anyone interested in the war or just looking for a great read will be very happy with this book.
Be sure to see the David Willson review as well.