First a Torch

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First A Torch is written by Richard Baker, who previously earned the accolade of the Ernest Hemingway Award for Short Fiction with a story about Vietnam. Baker is a war veteran who served in the 4th Infantry Division in Vietnam. First A Torch tells the remarkable military fiction story of a farm boy named Bix who befriends a Vietnamese man named Chau during the siege upon Dien Bien Phu.

Baker builds his story with solid characters on both sides of the battle field. The siege upon Dien Bien Phu that lasted six months is setting for the story. The characterizations of Chau and Bix are well developed and make this historical military story a poignant and heartrending work of fiction. After rescuing Chau from a fight with racists, Bix and Chau develop a bond of friendship. They subsequently decide to travel cross-country with another friend they meet along the way, an ex-con named Steve. First A Torch is not only a military story, but also an emotional tale of the adventures these men share during their cross-country excursion. Bix and Steve are compelled to defend the French base at Dien Bien Phu. In the fall of 1953, they decide to join the Foreign Legion, but Bix develops second thoughts. Bix “was beginning to doubt his decision about joining the legion…” For those who enjoy military fiction, Baker does an exceptional job conveying the images of a historical battle. His characters are rich as he entices the reader into evaluating both sides of the battle. Baker deftly portrays this siege and engages the reader throughout the course of the story.

With his firsthand experience, Baker delivers a truly impressive war novel, examining what it means to fight and survive as a soldier, bringing the reader into the psyche of those who served and continue to serve in times of war.


Reviewed By:

Author Richard Baker
Star Count 4/5
Format Trade
Page Count 470 pages
Publisher Ink & Lens
Publish Date 10-Jun-2011
ISBN 9780970514868
Amazon Buy this Book
Issue April 2012
Category Popular Fiction
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