Dead Center: A Marine Sniper’s Two-Year Odyssey in the Vietnam War, by Ed Kugler

Marines, and those with an interest in the Marines, will enjoy reading this book. The book begins with Kugler’s childhood in Gunadenhtten, Ohio. His father was interested more in his job than his family. Kugler developed an interest in the Marines through reading their history. The first two chapters give the reader the history of the Marines. This includes the origin of the Marine Corps Hymn, which uses an Offenbach melody from “Genevieve de Brabant.”

Kugler got in trouble in boot camp and eventually got straightened out by a drill instructor before his advanced training and deployment to Santo Domingo. By the time he arrived in Vietnam, Kugler knew he wanted more control over his destiny than was offered him as a regular infantryman. He volunteered for sniper training and acquired some degree of control to the extent that he could decide who would live or die as he saw them through the scope of his rifle.

He served as a sniper with the 3rd Force Recon and the 4th Marines during his time in Vietnam. Unfortunately, the book is lacking some of the specifics of location. Kugler provides the reader with a good amount of pictures and text that apply to him personally, rather than a good picture of life as a sniper.

The book is not without its merits, but the profanity limits its use and recommendations. There are other books that give a much better picture of sniping in Vietnam.

(Ivy Books, 1999; 236 pp., $26.47 — ISBN 0739404598)