"All I knew about Vietnam was what I had more or less been forced to read in the daily papers. The whole thing was such a colossal fiasco for America - if I could believe what the papers said - that I had tried to avoid thinking about it."

James Jones
Viet Journal, Delacorte Press

The war in Vietnam made me a writer. Over there I saw life at its strangest, its most beautiful, and its most bestial. We were young and ignorant, most of us, just out of high school. And most of us had never been out of our home states, let alone out of the country. We were nave, and a little drunk with the illusion of our invulnerability.

Most times the war raged far away - strange flickerings of light in the night sky, rumbling noises like thunder. Sometimes it grew so quiet it seemed as if there was no war at all. We worked very hard, hiking our heavy packs all day up and down mountain trails till we almost passed out. And then it was time to dig in. Once in a while the war came close, usually in the form of enemy suicide squads. But our technology and firepower was superior and we would stop them before they could harm us. The occasional dangers and the rigors of our life forged bonds between us as strong, perhaps, as those between mother and child, and probably for the same reasons. And when we least expected, the war would leap up before us like a beast, tearing at us with its blood-smeared stainless steel teeth and claws. Afterward, usually in the morning's light, we would see the broken, shredded mess it made of men.

It is the salt of the earth who fight and die in wars - young, inarticulate, white, yellow, and black 'common' people, the 'masses,' the communists call them. And it is their story that Carl Melcher tells. Like me, he has waited a long time to tell their story. Now he finally has a voice. I hope you'll give him a listen. - Paul Clayton

Paul Clayton was born in '48, drafted in '68, sent to Vietnam in September of the same year. He served with an infantry line company in the 4th Infantry Division, in the Central Highlands of Pleiku Province. After the army Mr. Clayton went to Temple University in Philadelphia, earning a Bachelor of Arts in English Literature in '76. In '95 he published his first work of fiction. He currently lives and works in California.

Books by Paul Clayton

Carl Melcher Goes To Vietnam

Electric eBook Publishing
The year is 1968. Like thousands of other American boys, Carl Melcher is drafted and sent to Vietnam. His new company is infected with the same racial tensions plaguing the nation. Despite that, Carl makes friends on both sides of the color line.
The war, like a tiger lurking in the bushes, picks off its victims one by one. Naively over-optimistic, Carl believes that karma and good intentions will save him and his friends. Then fate intervenes to teach Carl something of the meaning of life, and death.

NOW AVAILABLE at Electric eBook Publishing
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Read an excerpt.

Calling Crow

E-reads, paperback or downloadable e-books
Along the Southeast coast in the mid-16th century, Calling Crow, a Muskogee Indian, is taken to the island of Hispaniola where he is forced to work in the silver pit mines. After repeated escape attempts, and on the verge of death, he is rescued by a kindly Spanish priest. With his new, limited freedom, Calling Crow learns the ways of the Spanish. He meets and falls in love with another captive, Juana of the Arawak people. Finally, as part of a massive Spanish campaign to conquer the mainland, Calling Crow finds his way back to his home village, bringing the novel to its startling conclusion.
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Flight of the Crow

Morris Press, Paperback (July 15, 1998)
Calling Crow goes on a quest to find his love, stolen away by a Spanish priest. He is captured, then adopted by a hostile tribe. Badly wounded, he is dragged from death's door by a proud woman he grows to love. But, life is strange, and back to Florida come the hated Spanish, and with them, the woman Calling Crow lost so long ago! The Spanish settle in, building a fort. They soon learn that the hated French heretics known as the Huguenots have settled to their north. Both groups plan the slaughter of the other. Calling Crow must now walk a fine line to protect the women he loves, and then he must choose one of them.
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Calling Crow Nation

Berkley Books, Mass Market Paperback (January 1997)
Into the lush savannas of Terra Florida, come Spanish slavers and thundersticks. The balance of power between the Timucua and the Coosa is lost forever when the Timucua obtain Spanish thundersticks in exchange for slaves. They move north. Calling Crow, chief of the Coosa, realizes that his people's bows and arrows will provide no defense against the Timucua and their deadly, smoke and fire-spewing weapons. On a reconnaissance foray into Timucua territory, Calling Crow and his men rescue the hapless crew of an English ship who had been taken prisoner by the Timucua. In gratitude, the English offer to equip and help Calling Crow in his coming fight.
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Available at Amazon.com

Read an interview with the author, Paul Clayton.

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