A Vince Torelli Novel Book 1: MP - A Novel of Vietnam (ebook and print) by John Schembra (Vietnam War)

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Jim Stewart Author of "The Ghosts of Vietnam" San Diego Schools P.D., Brawley P.D. (Retired) Former Military Policeman, Vietnam
John Schembra has written a follow up to the adventures of Vince Torelli. However, this does not take place in Vietnam like John’s first novel, “MP”. Torelli has returned home and is now an inspector with the San Francisco police department where he gets involved in a serial killer investigation and the search for the “Retribution Killer”. The author’s 30 years of being a police officer shines through in the book. It’s rich with detail, especially when describing the horrendous crimes and crime scenes. These particular things are very vivid to the reader. It’s more an expose on our disintegrating over burdened court system where deals are made leaving the men who do the work in the field stressed out at the results.
I liked this book a lot, and it’s a definite compliment to his first book about Vince. The author leaves you hanging in this one. What will be Vince’s next move. Will he also succumb to the folly that is justice? It will be interesting to see how the author follows this up. In his third book? Hope so.
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Al Bradley
Enjoyed the book. John tells a great story. As a former MP in the 720th MP Bn and 615th MP Co, at Long Bihn and Bien Hoa, I was moved by the telling. I truly enjoyed a trip to my past as an NCO during the same period as the story.

I have recommend the book to family and friends.
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Bill McDonald- President, Military Writer's Society of America
What the Vietnam War was like for M.P.'s

Author John Schembra, a former Army M.P. in Vietnam, draws from his own experiences in creating a very compelling account of that place and time in his book, "M.P., A Novel of Vietnam." The characters are multi-layered and complex and the intelligent dialogs make for good story telling.

Schembra draws out the action in a diary like presentation of young men going to war and sometimes the enemies are our own soldiers who get caught up in drugs and black marketeering or are drunk or AWOL. Sometimes it is hard to tell who the enemy really is.

The story takes you on a journey through a tour of duty and allows you to grow and change with the lead characters as they come to grips with the harsh realities of Vietnam. The Tet Offensive becomes the focal point of action in one part of the story but it is the people themselves that are center most in this story of survival, friendship, loyalty, and duty.

This book has a good fast pace and is a great look inside the military police of 1967 and 1968 around Long Binh and Bien Hoa. The author nails the time and place with his word pictures just like you are there; a very readable book and good entertainment.
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Nancy J. Bishaw, Author of "Angels Dare to Fly" for eBook Reviews Weekly http://www.ebook-reviews.net
John Schembra portrays a vivid picture of the Vietnam War. Vince Torelli is a student at San Francisco State University when he receives his draft notice. For some reason, his student deferment is no longer in effect and he is ordered to Fort Lewis, Washington for basic training. Once training is completed and the Military Police schooling finished, Vince finds himself assigned to the 557th MP Company, Long Binh, South Vietnam. I wonder if the powers-that-be are sane, sending these boys over to Vietnam after only twenty weeks of training: basic and AIT. How could they possibly be ready to fight the Viet Cong? But Vince ships out along with the other new recruits... and it will be a long journey home again.

Vince arrives in Bien Hoa, and one of the first things he's told is: "From here on out, you touch nothing that isn't government issue. You do not leave the friendly confines of the 90th Replacement Battalion until ordered to do so, and starting right now, consider every gook your enemy. You will be right most of the time. Trust no one who doesn't have round eyes, and be careful of some of them, too..."

Thus begins his tour of duty. Trust no one. In Vietnam, enemies are not clearly defined. A soldier can't tell who the enemy is by mere appearance. Orientation lasts two weeks, but Vince's real education begins after duty hours when he can talk with the other soldiers in the company. He learns what it takes to survive a war with hidden enemies and no rules, and to only trust the people you work with. Their lives, literally, depend on their fellow soldiers. They have to rely on each other, because that's all they have. They cover one another's backs, trying desperately to survive.

John describes many incidents in this war, and he doesn't pull any punches. He readily tells us of what some of our own men did over there. Things that weren't supposed to- or shouldn't have- happened. For instnace, there is the time a child steals a camera from one of the GIs and the soldier shoots him. Not your typical American response to such a situation, but then these GIs are under a lot of stress- and, I imagine, many of them were at the breaking point. During the Tet offensive, the author does a wonderful job of showing the fear and anxiety of the GIs as they fight the enemy despite their wounds. Through sheer will and determination, they struggle to live through it and reach safety. And to do that, they must rely on one another.

The author weaves a solid, interesting story that holds the reader's attention from start to end. Among the battles, he inserts some GI pranks that will make you grin for sure. It shows that even in the midst of the horrors of war the men need to left off steam.

All in all, "M.P., A Novel of Vietnam" is well worth reading. It gives an insight into the war that only someone who has been there can give. I highly recommend this action-packed book.
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Donna Bedrick for Word Museum Reviews
Rating: 4 Rare Find

MP, A Novel of Vietnam, is a fictionalized first hand account of the effect of war on the men who served as Military Police during the conflict. However, John R. Schembra’s own personal experiences during his year of service as a MP with the 557th MP Company at Long Binh equipped him with more than enough inspiration and historically accurate details for his first novel.

Vince Torelli and T.J. Salter, barely on the threshold of young manhood are sent in country to the PMO at Long Binh. A seasoned sergeant named Sanders assumes the responsibility of teaching them the art of survival in a country where, as he warns them, ‘no one is to be trusted’. In a land long desensitized to war and death, where life is cheap, and everyone survives as best they can, the face of the ‘papa-san’ you greet everyday could very well be the face of the enemy. This is a situation that finds disturbing echoes in the current conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq.

While the mandate of the MPs is to keep the peace primarily among American personnel, they are often forced to keep the peace on other levels.

The two cultures clash and damage needs to be smoothed over; when drunken soldiers insult and break up the premises of an elderly café owner; and two teenage Vietnamese ’cowboys’ inflict injuries on their own citizens just for the sheer pleasure of it, Sanders introduces Torelli and Salter to a ‘wild west’ kind of justice.

At times, they are drawn into the wider conflict, becoming targets of full scale attacks launched by the VC as the MPs carry out escort and guard duties, determined to get the men and supplies safely to their destinations. As they fend off these attacks, they come face to face with death and its most terrible consequence – living with yourself after killing another human being regardless of his enmity.

They also learn that it is powerless to stop crime in a country and war that is riddled with greed and ‘get rich no matter what’ attitudes. The blackmarket activities by both Vietnamese and Americans, from the lowest grunt and peasant to the top levels of government and military continue despite the certain knowledge that most of the stolen goods ends up in the enemy’s hands.

Sanders tells them, “that’s just the way it is over here….people (Americans) do things here they would never do back in the States.” Torelli, in particular, realizes how war changes things, how it changes him when he discovers how adept he becomes at killing and the art of survival.

Presented as an anecdotal account of routine daily activities punctuated by sudden outbreaks of violence and conflict, the story is well peppered with an insider’s terms of the Vietnam War such as ‘sappers’, LRRP, QC, and ’shorts’. A glossary is provided for less familiar acronyms and pigeonholing tags. The characterizations of the combatants, particularly Torelli and Sanders and their developing friendship, are well defined and engaging. Humor strafes the narrative and lightens its dark edges. In one episode the enlisted men stage hilarious acts of revenge on a belligerent Sergeant, a by-the-book ‘lifer’ who is bent on making their lives as miserable as possible.

The Vietnam conflict was a bitter and contentious time for many people living in the late sixties and Schembra’s novel is a vivid and disturbing insight into a situation most of us only viewed from a distance making MP, A Novel of Vietnam, a good read.
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Larry Deibert
I had the pleasure of serving with John in Vietnam.

MP is a wonderful novel focusing on the Military Police during that awful war.

When I read it, I almost felt like I was back there, hearing the sounds, smelling the smells and feeling the goosebumbs that formed during patrols, especially at night.

Keep up the great work, John.
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Guy Painter
M.P. is the story of Vincent Torelli, a newly minted Military Policeman, and a "newbie" in the Republic of Vietnam just prior to the 1968 TET Offensive. Assigned to Long Binh with the 557th Military Police. Torelli learns the fine art of survival, the horror of war, and trust in his partner during his year long tour of duty.

The author, John Schembra, himself a former Military Policeman and a retired police sergeant with over 30 years experience, tells it like it was during the Vietnam War through the eyes of Vincent Torelli. He shows us how Torelli matures from draftee, and rookie Military Policeman, to an experienced Military Policeman and courageous soldier.

M.P. is a wonderful read without bogging down in lengthy details or politics of the time. M.P. is well worth the read. Any veteran, past, or present, will relate to this story, yet anyone can enjoy it.
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Karen Solomon
Jul 26, 2015
M.P. told the story of a young man who was drafted and sent to Vietnam in a compelling and factual manner. Without resorting to shock and gore, he was able to convey the problems and fears faced by many young boys who were sent to fight against a vicious enemy.

I read this book in one sitting because I really wanted to see who made it out, the characters were compelling enough for me to care. Well done.
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