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Robert Mercy author of I Hear No Bugles.

Readersvoice.com aims to collect a few interesting reading tips. I Hear No Bugles (Merriam Press) is the memoir of Robert Mercy’s frontline combat experiences in the Korean War. Some of the scenes are nightmarish, and the book might be too much for some. Robert Mercy has a wide variety of interests, including Buddhism, psychology and acting, and these interests overlap. He gives many reading suggestions in this interview.

To Robert Mercy and his twin brother Richard, the U.S. army was their family. And war was where they wanted to be.

They were both stationed in Japan with the post-WW2 Occupation forces when they were sent to Korea. They were eager to get to the frontline. And once they got there, they wanted to stay there.

I Hear No Bugles (Merriam Press) is Robert Mercy’s account of his experiences in the Korean War, leading a squad of South Korean soldiers. Violent scenes become everyday events. Some of them are horrifying: During one battle, a young G.I. is wounded in the legs. He knew the North Korean army didn’t take prisoners, and that he would probably be tortured and killed, so he begged Mr Mercy to kill him.

There are other scenes of executions, and reports of torture and massacres. And other stories.

On one occasion when Robert Mercy was separated from his brother for a few weeks, Robert Mercy had lost a lot of weight due to illness.

He saw his brother Richard walking past, waved hello. His brother said hello back and kept walking, not recognising him.

The book kind of reminded me of The Road by Cormac McCarthy, which is a novel about a father and son on a terrible journey to the coast after a nuclear war in the U.S.. Both books have that page-turner quality you get in a book when characters are in constant peril, facing outrageous violence, trying to stay alive. It only took me a few nights to read each of these books.

He doesn’t spare himself when he describes events in the memoir, and the book is more believable as a result. It seems like a straightforward and even-handed memoir of events.

After the Korean War and army life, Mr Mercy pursued acting, appearing in the tv show Combat! which starred the great Vic Morrow.

Mr Mercy studied psychology, specialising in dream interpretation and profiling.

His other interests include Buddhism, painting and military history. His reading reflects these beliefs and interests.

Robert Mercy said his love of reading was a late development and blamed “the deeply flawed US public educational system.”

He said, “As admitted in chapter two of my book, having been practically a straight F grade student I was packed off upon graduating to the East New York Vocational High School where the student body’s major subject interest was crafting the then very popular and highly illegal “Zip” guns, which fired a .22 caliber round.

“Still, it was the binary effects of WWII events and certain movie sequences that stimulated a latent interest to self education.”

He described his reading as literary searching, and some of his favorite books are on the following page. For as close to a combat experience as most people would want to get, I Hear No Bugles is a very good book.

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– Copyright Simon Sandall