Review of Corpsman Up!

The Vietnam War has left many ravaged by the psychological effects it produced. David Johnson is no different...he has a story to tell.  If you get this book, that is as much as you will like.

The rest of the book is a tirade against God and Christians.  Mr. Johnson is angry and he wants you to know it.

My review is below.

Happy Friday - Comments welcome!

Available at

Corpsman Up!: A Marine Medic Struggles with War, God, and Patriotism
By David Johnson
404 pages, $25.95
ISBN-13: 978-0595521265
Review by Steven King, MBA, MEd

In Corpsman Up, it is apparent that David Johnson is mad at a society that has let him down. Imagine joining the military as a young age and devoting yourself to the principle that all life is has worth.  The stories coming out of Vietnam are filled with just the opposite: there are plenty of ethnic groups service members encountered which are considered sub-human.  I salute David “Doc” Johnson for his service as a combat medic—especially since I was an Army Combat Medic, as well.

If there is a Vietnam veteran in your life, they will enjoy reading of his escapades in that tumultuous hotbed of activity. Decisions made there leave many scratching their heads and those who fought and made it out alive wonder aloud why so much went wrong.  At least they made it back home—but many times to an America who had forgotten her veterans. How sad for anyone to risk it all in combat only to be collectively spat upon by your fellow Americans.

I wish Mr. Johnson would have left his book a discourse about Vietnam, as I felt the storyline and descriptors were filled with passion. Johnson writes very poignantly in an easily-read style.  With that in mind, my review departs from being complementary.

The rest of his memoir lambasts Christians, God, and patriotism.  I feel that everyone is entitled to his opinion about God, but I would have hoped Johnson would avoid trivializing the proper name of God by foolishly typing ‘god’ where God is accepted English. It is obvious that Mr. Johnson does not believe in God…which is his right…but I would not refer to him as ‘david johnson’ simply because I disagreed with him.

To illustrate the naivet√© which Mr. Johnson brings to the biblical discourse, he makes a parenthetical insertion as he quotes Gen 1:26, “Then God said, “Let us make mankind in our image…”, after “us” he has God need help making man? Who’s us?  With just a little investigation, he could have discovered that the Hebrew word for God conveyed in Genesis 1:26 indicated to the ancient Israelites God and his heavenly court.  Other translators have superimposed a Trinitarian concept back upon this word to indicate “plural of majesty.” Either way, a plural audience is in view…not implying that God “needs” help to “do” anything.

Conspiracy proponents will love Mr. Johnson’s interactions about the John Birch Society, a group he sees as the veritable “demon behind every bush” with anything alluding to funding right-wing propaganda.  As I read through rant after rant, I felt I was reading the re-hash of sloppily posted minutiae of an internet conspiracy forum.

In later revisions, I hope Mr. Johnson condenses his book to a memoir about Vietnam—that is worth reading. 


  1. Ok you may be getting this again. I think google erased my response. This is what I said:
    Excellent review! I respect the evenhanded way you wrote about his book. I think I would have had a hard time doing so. It makes me angry when someone rants against God.
    I think people like that are angry at God and, like a child, think they're getting even with Him by declaring that "they don't believe in Him anymore (so there!)."
    It's too bad because they can only find healing and peace through the power of God's Holy Spirit.

  2. I agree, Sharon. I am actually linked to the author at LinkedIn. We have exchanged a few emails about my review - I think he is angry---just like many I have ran across who feel let down by God.

    Know what I love about God, though? He still loves this author more than he could ever possible imagine.

    Thank you for the kind words.

  3. You are so right! He's longsuffering, patient and kind, thank goodness for my own sake!!


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