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THE KILLING ZONE: My Life in the Vietnam War

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on 26 March 2014

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Transcript of THE KILLING ZONE: My Life in the Vietnam War

Summary
Lt. Downs covers a lot of ground during his years of adventure in theater. In the first section of the book his base is on top of a mountain called Montezuma, his first command post was to observe a Coastal Highway where he faces many struggles like landmines and the "Vietcong". In the next section, he is placed in the interior jungle where more fighting takes place. Lastly, he is moved to the Tam Ky province. Here the climax of the story is when Downs steps on a "Bouncing Betty" (which is an explosive land mine) and loses his left arm. After this horrific accident Downs tries to figure out his next step when he comes home while still serving his country.
"The Killing Zone" in military terms, means the area within an ambush where everyone is killed or wounded.


"Not everyone doing the fighting is in the newspapers."

I think this quote symbolizes my book the most because this book is filled with diary entries that Fredrick Downs lived and fought through that nobody would know unless they read it. Not a lot of information about war gets recognition from the past or now in the present.









About The Author/ Main Character
Lieutenant Frederick Downs is the author and main character of this book. He was born in Kingman, Indiana, and spent his life there until he enlisted in the U.S. Army in 1966. Shortly after enlisting, he graduated from Officer Candidate School at Fort Benning, Georgia, at age 23, in March 1967. September 1967, Downs began his journey when he landed at the Pleiku Air Base in central Vietnam.
Historical Context/ Inaccuracies
The historical context is very accurate throughout the book, nothing is "sugar coated" which gives readers enough detail to imagine the setting, conditions, and feelings of the soldiers during the Vietnam War. This non-fiction narrative tells a near perfect story of what it meant to face danger, follow specific orders, and to later explain the lives of some of the Delta-Six platoon members pre and post Vietnam.


Theme
I believe the theme of "The Killing Zone" is working together and perseverance. Without the aid of the other soldiers in his platoon, Downs would've never made it when he stepped on the land mine. Frederick Downs explains that a soldiers platoon is the closest thing to family you will ever have while away serving your country. Both of these components tie together and play an enormous role throughout this autobiography explaining that you mentally can't get through a single day without them.
Critiques
Positive- Frederick Downs has an excellent way of writing and describing emotion during every entry. One of my favorite things of this book is the glossary in the back explaining different military terms a lot of readers, like myself, wouldn't know.

Negative- Sometimes the book dragged on, having too many little details that nobody will remember or really care about. Also, there is a great deal of repetition in some entries where a reader could almost predict what was going to happen next.
By: Frederick Downs
THE KILLING ZONE: My Life in the Vietnam War
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