W.Va. native pens novel telling story of growing up in Italian family, Vietnam war
Decades after coming home from Vietnam, a West Virginia native and WVU graduate used his experiences from childhood and service overseas to write a novel.
“I never expected this to be published,”said author John Brown. “It was a bucket list item. I was doing it for myself and family.”
“Augie’s War” follows Augie Cumpton from the fictional Jewel Town. Brown said the name is inspired by a song from the ‘40s or ‘50s which described Clarksburg as the Jewel of the Hills. Clarksburg’s Northview neighborhood, where the 73-year-old grew up, became Riverview.
West Virginia native and Vietnam War veteran John H. Brown delivers a moving novel in "Augie's War."
West Virginia native and Vietnam War veteran John H. Brown delivers a moving novel in "Augie's War." Protagonist Augustino Lee Cumpton is drafted into the U.S. Army and sent to Vietnam. Augie's memory of fun-ﬁlled family days back in West Virginia helps him cope with the tribulations of war and unscrupulous military personnel.
Brown's storytelling will engage you from beginning to end with amusing, gritty and candid dialogue. Various chapters transition from Vietnam to Augie's hometown without skipping a beat. Augie's memories of humorous and heartfelt family moments keeps the war at bay, at least temporarily: Aunt Lia, the "meatball queen," loves bawdy jokes; Uncles Giorgio and Dante, co-owners of the Chestnut Bakery, regale patrons and family with madcap stories..“They could always lift my spirits...,” says Augie.
With a cadre of convivial characters, you'll see why Augie's thoughts drift toward his family. This book also attests to thee spirit of brothers-in-arms and the ravages of war.
Brown's vivid writing allows you to witness gripping scenes detailing the carnage from explosions with images you won't forget. Although this novel is about the Vietnam War, it also conveys the message of how family, friends, and those who have your back can sustain a person through desperate times.
Harrison native John Brown's novel 'a labor of love'
CHARLESTON — If the fictional city of Jeweltown and its suburbs bear more than a slight resemblance to the Clarksburg area in writer and columnist John Brown’s novel “Augie’s War,” there’s a reason for that.
And if the main character — Harrison County native Augie Compton — reminds anyone of Brown, well, there’s a reason for that, too.
“I thought I could write this book about Vietnam,” said Brown, who, like Augie, grew up in an Italian-American family in Harrison County. “But I know one of the ways I got through things over there was to think about home. I remember growing up working at my grandfather’s bakery.”
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Book review: 'Augie's War' a grim but awfully funny war novel
Like Joseph Heller in “Catch 22,” the classic novel about the deadly World War 11 air war, John Brown has given readers a novel that makes clear the insanity of war in all its grim and gritty horror. The casualty count in “Augie’s War” is high. Yet, at the same time, Brown’s novel, like Heller’s, includes a lineup of zany characters and a sequence of outlandish happenings sure to have readers chuckling, if not laughing out loud.
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Augie's War is a relatable read!
I throughly enjoyed this book. While fortunate not to be drafted into the War, I've wondered what life would have been like there. Mr. Brown answers this question for me. He provides serious yet humorous insight into Augie's day to day life making me grateful I didn't have to go. Jeweltown is much like my hometown. By the end of the book, I felt I knew Augies family and felt the relief that he felt from the danger, boredom, and drudgery of the War. A very interesting style of writing that pulls the reader into what must have been the only way to stay sane! Highly recommend the read!
Review: Augie's War
Riveting book that switches back and forth between Augie's experience as a young soldier in Vietnam and his childhood upbringing in a small Italian immigrant community in WV. Brown has a remarkable ability to conjure vivid imagery of the devastatingly harsh and punishing time he spent in Vietnam while still injecting humor and levity into these passages. In contrast, the stories of a childhood spent enveloped in a large and warm Italian family, while equally vivid, are first and foremost hilarious. The cast of characters Augie reflects on are delightful oddballs and warm, colorful family members that provide reprieve from his present situation, one that is riddled with ethical dilemmas, incompetent leadership, and unbearable living conditions.
Augie's War" is another "Catch 22"!
John Brown's "Augie's War" is hilarious, poignant and always interesting. Brown's account of a young West Virginian's tour of Vietnam paints scenes that are real and riveting as he interchanges Augie's Vietnam experience with his halcyon boyhood. If you have read "Catch 22" and loved it, you will embrace this book. Augie's raucous Qui Dong, South Vietnam, his exotic R&R, and his encounters with martinets that rival those of Captain John Yossarian in Joseph Heller's masterpiece will make you smile.
Then, it will warm your heart as Brown superbly mixes Augie's wartime experience with remembrances of his large Italian family and their delightful attitude toward life, food and laughter. Augie retreats to those memories when the harsh realities of military life seem too hard to endure. The author's detail of military operations is impressive. His prose in describing the beauty of nature stateside, and that of those areas of Vietnam untouched by conflict, is stunning. It is somewhat hackneyed to say this would be a really great movie, but I think readers of "Augie's War" will agree—the Coen brothers will salivate if they get their hands on this one!!
A VERY FINE READ
I couldn't wait for Amazon to offer the book so I bought it directly from Black Rose Publishers. What a really cool read! I spent 5 straight years in Vietnam as one of those infamous civilian advsiors for MACV working on "pacification" which included duties in Operation Phoenix. So much of Mr. Brown's story rang true from the teeth gritting fear to some of the corruption within the ranks (especially those civilians who ran officers' clubs). But, it wasn't just about the reality of the war Brown brought out. The counterpoint about his life back home in an Italian immigrant community was really funny and at the same time touching. Well done, Mr. J.H. Brown. I'd like to meet you someday and reminisce.
First Time is the Charm!
A truly inspiring first novel from J.H.Brown. I agonized with Augie, wept for all the indignities, rejoiced in his upbringing and prayed for his safety. It brought the reality of the Vietnam War into close perspective with such descriptive writing and character development that I didn't want it to end. I hope Mr. Brown has some other novels in him....sign me up!
War is HELL! Home is HEAVEN!!
First of all compared to my draft and service (1968-1969) Augie had a far more difficult and dangerous tour (and I now realize how lucky I was)! John Brown writes with a fluid & passionate stream of pictures, thoughts, tastes, feelings, happenings and smells that kept me turning the pages. Just as amazing and difficult as the Vietnam Nam stories are, the Clarksburg family and tales of growing up are just as wonderful in their humor and caring. In someways there is a feeling of return to "Catch 22" with the military ways but the family tales make this a much more caring and home-cooked tale! Hats off to Mr. Brown!!
Animal House leaves campus and goes to War
My nose is always in a book. "Augie's War" is the very best book that I've read in a long time. The author's dialogue reminds me of Elmore Leonard's. His characters are fully developed with a back story for each one. Every single word of this yarn was believable.
This is a love story of the author's family and the place where he was raised. It's a story of the absurdities of all war and the Vietnam war in particular.
Brown makes it very clear who the most powerful people are in the U,S. Army. It isn't the Generals, the Captains or other officers in the chain of command. Company Clerks wield all the power of life and death, of happiness or misery.
This is a page turner of a first novel. I hope it's not Brown's last. The cultural references are numerous. From lighting farts, to flicking a Zippo lighter off and on, to Senior Wences on The Ed Sullivan Show the author connects with anyone who lived in the 60s.
"Camp followers" have been an important and ubiquitous part of wars since the dawn of time. "Augie's War" paints a new angle of this practice with Operation Thunderclap.
There has never been a better portrayal of the day to day business of making War. Read this book and you, like me, will look forward to seeing this story on the Big Screen someday.