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“Arlen’s Gun” centers on an alienated and angry young man from the worst streets of Baltimore. The Vietnam War is raging and, virtually certain to be drafted, he’s persuaded by a friend to avoid that fate by volunteering for the Air Force. Both end up in Vietnam, his friend in a comfortable administrative job while he becomes a gunner on an AC-47 gunship. His attitude isolates him from the crew members, and the nature of the gunship’s mission isolates him from the reality of war itself until his plane is shot down and crash lands in no-man’s land. It is the monsoon season, bad weather grounds rescue helicopters, and the crew is rescued by an Army unit. Events strand him with his rescuers, soon caught up in desperate battles where the airman gradually discovers in the motley group a path to brotherhood.
Edgar Doleman, Vietnam War, Arlen’s Gun, novel