This knocked Michael Herr's "Dispatches" out of top place for best book I ever read about Vietnam. The writing had such a quality of honesty that it shined an embarrassing light on most other memoirs, and made me realize how much other memoirists are bogged down with carefully calibrating their self-presentation. Wolff seems to have blown past that to some higher Zen level. Sometimes he seems heroic, sometimes he is selfish, sometimes he is kind, or cruel, or just plain dumb, but in very human ways. He seems to never exaggerate his incompetence for comedy or his dark experiences for tragedy, it all seems presented cleanly and evenly. As if he already thought through everything you could think of him and moved on.
This book is in the form of short chapters, short stories really, which makes for easy reading. I did sometimes think the chapters were completed with a short story-style tidiness, like well-made dumplings. As if he'd been thinking about them so long the reality of the experience became too polished? But he knows better than me what it's like to remember these things.
At one point Wolff befriends a Harvard guy. That was a really interesting chapter.