There's a Man With a Gun Over There
Quick Overview :
There's a Man with a Gun Over There is an autobiographical novel based on R.M. Ryan's military experiences. An antiwar activist while in graduate school, he received a draft notice after the Tet offensive in 1968. Not interested in killing or being killed in Vietnam, he considered moving to Canada to avoid conscription. Before fleeing north, however, he met with an army recruiter, who promised him a place in a German Language Class at the Defense Language School in Monterey, California.
Unfortunately, the army's pledge to Ryan terminated when he graduated as a translator and he was sent to Military Police School. This would keep him physically out of harm's way but cause severe and unexpected emotional consequences. He ended up collaborating with former Nazis while policing American soldiers for mostly minor law-breaking, which violently escalated when he attempted to arrest a black American sergeant for black-marketing cigarettes.
About his book Ryan offers this: "All of us men with guns were pretty scary. My MP boss in Germany led a platoon of Military Policemen guarding the Pentagon. His men were the ones with the guns the hippie girls put flowers in. What may be even scarier is the realization that most of the people who come through the American military are trained killers. These people are your neighbors. They're your relatives. I always enjoy telling war supporters this - especially those with sons in the military. We need to face up to what we're doing, both to peasants in the Third World and to our own children.
"I hope my story will serve as an object lesson. I will be happy if it convinces just one person to stay out of the military."
A consummate storyteller, Ryan may be the Norman Mailer of this generation.
Acclaimed by The New York Times as a writer who works "at the juncture of rapture and rupture," R.M. RYAN is the author of Goldilocks in Later Life, The Golden Rules, and Vaudeville in the Dark. He served in the US Army from 1969 to 1972 and is married to the biographer Carol Sklenicka.