Decades after coming home from Vietnam, a West Virginia native and WVU graduate used his experiences from childhood and service overseas to write\u00a0a novel.\r\n\u201cI never expected this to be published,\u201dsaid author John Brown. \u201cIt was a bucket list\u00a0item. I was doing it for myself and family.\u201d\r\n\u201cAugie\u2019s War\u201d follows Augie Cumpton from the fictional Jewel Town. Brown said the name is inspired by a song from the \u201840s or \u201850s which described Clarksburg as the Jewel of the Hills. Clarksburg\u2019s Northview neighborhood, where the 73-year-old grew up, became Riverview.\r\nBrown worked in his grandpa\u2019s Italian bakery as a kid, and Cumpton draws on memories from his childhood spent in an Italian bakery to help deal with the traumas of war.\r\n\u201cIt\u2019s almost autobiographical, but it isn\u2019t,\u201d Brown said.\r\nBrown said he grew up on the same block as his large Italian family, including aunts, uncles and roughly 20 cousins, all of whom had a large influence on him.\r\nBrown graduated from WVU in 1968, the first in his family to do so, with a degree in journalism and shortly after went to Vietnam as a \u201csupply guy.\u201d His first pick, a journalist, was full, so the Army handed him his second choice.\r\nHe said 1968 was a crazy time \u2014 the North Vietnamese called America\u2019s ability to succeed in the war into question with the Tet Offensive, President Lyndon B. Johnson decided not to run for reelection because of criticism over his handling of the war, Martin Luther King was assassinated, then Bobby Kennedy.\r\nFollowing graduation, Brown was drafted into the Army, and while he had the opportunity to become an officer, he said, \u201cI figured I\u2019d get in and out as quick as I can.\u201d\r\nFollowing basic training and advanced individual training, Brown was about to receive orders to \u201cfix weapons in the middle of the boonies\u201d when the Sergeant, from Beckley, asked if Brown could type.\r\n\u201cI looked him right in the eye and told a bold face lie; yeah, I\u2019m a great typist,\u201d Brown said.\r\nThat lie landed him in Chu Lai, with the 23rd Infantry Division known as \u201cAmerical\u201d \u2014 the largest infantry unit in Vietnam \u2013 as an awards writer. Brown said he would take after action reports and turn them into award proposals to be sent up the chain of command.\r\nAfter a year of working about six-and-a-half days a week, pulling guard duty and writing awards, Brown returned home in 1971, got married and started working on a master\u2019s degree.\r\nWhile decompressing from his year at war, Brown said he started to write about his experiences, but \u201cfortunately,\u201d life intervened, and his family and career prevented him from doing so.\r\nIn 2016, Brown handed his business, Brown Communications, to his son and retired. He said his wife was concerned he needed something to do and suggested he finish the book.\r\nBrown said he didn\u2019t think writing the book was therapeutic until a friend who was a forward observer in the war, \u201ca really dangerous job,\u201d suggested it might be.\r\n\u201cI never thought about it that way, but there could be an element of that,\u201d he said. \u201cI didn\u2019t have many bad experiences; had a few close calls, but I didn\u2019t dwell on it when I came back.\u201d\r\nBrown said he had people ask him if the \u201cwild and crazy\u201d stuff that happens in the book is true, and he just responded with the old adage that \u201ctruth is stranger than fiction.\u201d\r\n\u201cAugie\u2019s War\u201d is, unconsciously, an antiwar book, Brown said. He said he noticed Afghanistan has parallels with Vietnam and that we didn\u2019t learn from the past. Not everything about the wars is the same \u2014 the military is now all volunteer, instead of mostly draftees, he said. That might not be a good thing, though.\r\n\u201cThese people are going multiple times.\u201d Brown said. \u201cI don\u2019t think I could have gone back multiple times. I can\u2019t imagine. The toll on the psyche of the people that are fighting in the war and instances of suicide and PTSD and all that are just off the charts.\u201d\r\nThe number of soldiers who die shrank. The Vietnam War Memorial in Washington, D.C., had 58,318 names on it as of Memorial Day 2017. During his time over there, Brown said 300-400 soldiers a week were being killed. According to the Department of Defense, between Oct. 7, 2001 and Dec. 31, 2014, 1,833 soldiers were killed in Afghanistan \u2014 the war has dragged on about three more years since then.\r\nAnother improvement is that veterans are treated with respect now, a far cry from the treatment Brown and other Vietnam veterans experienced \u2014 being spit on and called a baby killer upon their return home.\r\nThe problem, Brown said, is the mission of the Afghanistan war, similar to Vietnam, isn\u2019t clear.\r\n\u201cWhat I hope that comes through in my novel is the absurdity of war and how we don\u2019t necessarily solve things by trying to impose our will in areas that are so far away from us,\u201d he said.\r\nThe 235 page novel received overwhelming positive reviews. It has a 4.41 average review on Goodreads, a popular website for reviewing and discussing books.\r\n\u201cRiveting book that switches back and forth between Augie\u2019s experience as a young soldier in Vietnam and his childhood upbringing in a small Italian immigrant community in WV. Brown has a remarkable ability to conjure vivid imagery of the devastatingly harsh and punishing time he spent in Vietnam while still injecting humor and levity into these passages,\u201d wrote Laura Brown. \u201cIn contrast, the stories of a childhood spent enveloped in a large and warm Italian family, while equally vivid, are first and foremost hilarious. The cast of characters Augie reflects on are delightful oddballs and warm, colorful family members that provide reprieve from his present situation, one that is riddled with ethical dilemmas, incompetent leadership and unbearable living conditions.\u201d\r\nIn recent months, Brown considered writing a sequel or possibly turning the book into a movie. He said there\u2019s an outline, and lots of things were left hanging at the end of \u201cAugie\u2019s War.\u201d\r\n\u201cAugie\u2019s War\u201d is available for purchase on Amazon and other retailers. The novel\u2019s official website is www.augieswar.com.