Lawrence Craig, from Georgia, has a troubled past with the CIA leading up to his forced service (by the CIA) into the Army during the Vietnam War. From the very beginning, there is something odd or "Giong" about "Craig, just Craig" as he refers to himself.
Giong takes you along on Craig's' journey, starting in boot camp, then over to Vietnam where he befriends a Vietnamese reporter named An, falls in love with a Swedish nurse named Karen all the while trying to learn the Vietnamese language and gain a greater understanding of the local Vietnamese people and their customs. He befriends the men in the orange robes, the Buddhist monks and some local natives (Montagnard or Hmong). In a strange twist, Craig not only saves their lives, but when he is dying, they save him.
We know Craig was trained by the CIA but what we don't know is why they suddenly gave him the boot. Craig's past CIA training shows up when he is sent out on patrol, preventing others from walking into a trap. The men don't understand him, but hold him in high esteem, with the exception of First Sergeant Rattinger, who lives up to his name and is out to get Craig!
While the setting takes place in Vietnam, it is not just about the Vietnam War. You will find yourself hard pressed to put this book down. Bramblett has developed each of the characters in the book so fully and intertwined short pieces about veterans who have returned from war and its effect on them that you can't stop reading. Giong is so well-written you feel as if you are getting a good dose of history. What happened in Craig's past with the CIA is a thread woven throughout the book, with bits and pieces appearing at unexpected places.
I would highly recommend this book. While it is nearly 600 pages in length, it was one of the easiest and most enjoyable books I have read.