Of Rice and Men by Richard Galli
A Novel of Vietnam

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Synopsis

Spreading democracy takes more than cutting-edge military hardware. Winning the hearts and minds of a troubled nation is a special mission we give to bewildered young soldiers who can’t speak the native language, don’t know the customs, can’t tell friends from enemies, and–in this wonderfully outrageous Iraq-era novel about Vietnam–wonder why they have to risk their lives spraying peanut plants, inoculating pigs, and hauling miracle rice seed for Ho Chi Minh.

Brash, eye-opening, and surprisingly comic, Of Rice and Men displays the same irreverent spirit as the black-comedy classics Catch-22 and MASH–as it chronicles the American Army’s little known “Civil Affairs” soldiers who courageously roam hostile war zones, not to kill or to destroy, but to build, to feed, and to heal. Unprepared, uncertain, and naive, they find it impossible to make the skeptical population fall in love with them.

But it’s thrilling to watch them try.

Among the unforgettable characters: Guy Lopaca, an inept Army-trained interpreter who can barely say “I can’t speak Vietnamese” in Vietnamese, but has no trouble chatting with stray dogs and water buffalo. Guy’s friends include “Virgin Mary” Crocker, a pragmatic nurse earning a fortune spending nights with homesick soldiers; Paul Gianelli, a heroic builder of medical clinics who doesn’t want to be remembered badly, so he never goes home; and Tyler DeMudge, whose cure for every problem is a chilly martini, a patch of shade, and the theory that every bad event in life is “good training” for enduring it again.

Pricelessly funny, disarming, thought-provoking, as fresh as the morning headlines, and bursting with humor, affection, and pride, Of Rice and Men is a sincere tribute to those young men and women, thrust into our hearts-and-minds wars, who try to do absolute good in a hopeless situation.


From the Hardcover edition.
 

About Richard Galli

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Richard Galli, a litigation lawyer and former journalist, closed his Providence law office and moved his practice home so he could better care for his son. Galli lives with his wife and two children in East Greenwich, Rhode Island. Parts of "Rescuing Jeffrey" were published in the Providence Journal. Jeffrey Galli graduated from high school in spring 2000.
 
Published December 18, 2007 by Presidio Press. 368 pages
Genres: History, War, Literature & Fiction. Fiction

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This debut novel from Galli (Rescuing Jeffrey, 2000) centers on a pair of protagonists: both in their early 20’s, both well educated and both scared silly when, coincidentally, they arrive in Vietnam on the same plane.

| Read Full Review of Of Rice and Men: A Novel of V...

Entertainment Weekly

A safe distance from the gore, these men witness — and participate in — something equally startling: the U.S. military machine at its clankiest.

Feb 10 2006 | Read Full Review of Of Rice and Men: A Novel of V...

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