• The novel opens in 1967, in Anchorage, Alaska as Richard Perry, a black high school student, joins the army. Richard joins the army because he has very few options in life, even though he is very smart, his single mother is too poor to send her son to college.
• Richie, as Richard Perry is called, decides that joining the army will be a good way for him to get out of the Harlem slums where he lives, as rumors of peace are spreading, and Richie thinks that the Vietnam war will be over before he ever has to fire a gun.
• While in Basic Training, Richie injures his knee playing basketball, and his file is changed so that it should keep him out of combat. Richie's file, however, is never properly processed, and he is sent to Vietnam anyway. Richie's commanding officer assures him that the paperwork will...
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