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  • 11 person found this review helpful

    11 people found this review helpful

    11 of 11 people found this review helpful

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    Even better the second time around.

    I enjoyed the book so much, I read it a second time. I've decided to up my rating to a 5 star instead of a 4. Here is my original review: Iniquities of Gulch Fork isn't the type of book I would normally read, but I'm glad I did. The characters have a very down to earth feel, and their conversations remind me of my family. There are a couple places in the story that I caught myself holding my breath, waiting to see would happen next. Take the time to read this story, you'll be glad you did.
  • 10 person found this review helpful

    10 people found this review helpful

    10 of 10 people found this review helpful

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    The Most Insightful Book I've Ever Read

    Reading this fascinating yet complicated novel performed a miracle for me: it taught me how (by forgiving) to get rid of some extremely deep resentments that were driving me nuts. The only thing I have left in my life, my only son, came home from war in Iraq with TBI (traumatic brain injury) and PTSD. In a subtle, simple way, "Iniquities of Gulch Fork" convinced me beyond any doubt whatsoever that the wars in Vietnam as well as Iraq and Afghanistan (precipitated by the inside job known as 9/11) were all wars of our country's own making---for the purpose of making some of our citizens vastly wealthy because of morbid human greed This book magically transported me deeply into the lives of its main characters and their problems, like no other novel has ever done before. In some places I felt as though I were right there with them, but another, though taciturn, character in the scene. Extremely well written, this story stands out in my mind as perhaps one of the great classics in literature. Why? Each individual is succinctly yet vividly described to picture him or her crisply in my mind. The villain, Smokey Jones, is truly a beautiful textbook description of an individual with Asperger's syndrome (I've described Smokey to two friends who are shrinks, and they both wholeheartedly agree). Yet most significantly, this unusual story has given me greater insight into my pitiful son's addiction to not only alcohol, but also prescription drugs and, most recently, meth. I simply cannot believe the number of families in my community who are going through almost identical problems. I loved the style of writing, shifting now and then from enjoyable simple prose into almost poetic interludes, providing a beautiful break or change in the tempo. What I did not like is that the story came to an end too quickly. This novel based on true events (in regard to chain of actual events as well as how the main characters have overcome their problems) has restored for me the most vital thing that I had lost completely---hope. I recommend it to everybody. It has definitely changed, shaped me for the better.
  • 9 person found this review helpful

    9 people found this review helpful

    9 of 9 people found this review helpful

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    Without Reading This I Might Not Still Be Here

    I'm an Iraq war veteran with severe PTSD. I finished reading “Iniquities of Gulch Fork" for the first time in late June, 2016, right after its publication. Easy to read, extremely well written, it went unusually fast for me, a slow reader. I had difficulty putting the book down, kept wanting to pick it back up until I reached the end. I read it again because it hit home with a giant bang! Why? I learned more about PTSD from this book than I ever did from many different shrinks up at the VA hospital in Little Rock, who overloaded me with cocktails of mind-altering drugs. I felt the shrinks were more interested in pleasing the giant drug companies with keeping high volumes of drug sales to the VA rather than spending more time talking things through, helping me understand PTSD and how to cope. I'm from a huge family in southern Arkansas (many of them illiterate), with relatives who tell me, over and over, there's nothing wrong with me but booze---a “booze hound,” they’ve nicknamed me. They make fun of me, claim I'm just lazy and faking it. But I can't fake being nervous and jumpy all the time, can't fake constant unexplained mood changes, can’t fake screaming nightmares, can’t fake flashbacks to Iraq (my very best pal in the army was killed right next to me), can’t fake not having one single friend today, and can’t fake losing one job after another because of my temper---going into a rage over almost nothing, like Samantha's father in the story. I drank wine to get to sleep (like Rob Dean in the book did at first). I got several copies; urged my brothers, sisters, three uncles, two aunts and many cousins to promise me they'd read it. They did. Then I received sincere apologies from those who could read. Without this book, I would not be on the pathway to understanding PTSD, as Rob in the story has come to understand it. By trying to avoid situations that always provoke me, I’ve made progress in finding a job where I can work mostly alone; and I’m hoping soon to resume study for my degree in education. Perhaps one day I can teach English in school, maybe fulfill my boyhood dream of becoming a writer—yet several times I’ve been extremely close to calling it all quits. As a veteran who no doubt drinks too much, I can honestly say this remarkable book and its realistic characters have given me hope, inspiration, and a desire to keep on living. It convinced me that 9/11 was an inside job—that people in our own government are promoting the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan just as president L B Johnson raised a false flag to expand markedly the Vietnam War (by lying on national television, now a proven fact). War is caused by extraordinary human greed for money in those at high levels of our government, just as the extreme greed in redneck Smokey in the story causes him to swindle Rob in the cow business, especially after Rob kindly helped him over a financial rough spot. I am indeed grateful to the writers for sharing their lives in this treasure of true experiences. I've even started going back to Alcoholics Anonymous---fully determined to make it work for me this time. Recently, on a weird urge that seemed to come out of white fluffy clouds overhead, I picked the book up again, slowly read it for the third time. After finishing and putting it back on the bookshelf---it took me a long time before I could stop crying. God bless and thank you both, Rob Dean and Samantha Caminos (Bob Smith and Sara Rhodes) Sincerely, a very grateful reader
  • 9 person found this review helpful

    9 people found this review helpful

    9 of 9 people found this review helpful

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    I Wish More Books Captivated Me Like This One

    So well written it made me feel as though I'd crawled inside the book itself---it compelled my empathy to sense, to grasp, and to realize what it's like to grow old, helpless, and in constant pain that disabled Vietnam vet Rob Dean, a navy physician, endures in this novel based on true events. I now feel deeply ashamed of myself for not having felt in the past more compassion and understanding toward veterans. Now I appreciate what some of them have experienced in Vietnam, Iraq, or Afghanistan. The villain, Smokey Jones, became so realistic that I could almost feel the effects myself as he is portrayed smoking meth and feeling a power surge as he grew so confident, self-absorbed, and outlandishly cocky. I truly believe he's a dead ringer for having the autism spectrum disorder commonly referred to as Asperger's syndrome. Finally, this superb book has convinced me what I've felt all along---that Vietnam, with President Lyndon B Johnson's lies, as well as Afghanistan and Iraq, prefaced with the phony 9/11, are all three ugly false flags of our own country's making. I've refused to admit it because of my own unrecognized cognitive dissonance---as is so lucidly explained to me in the chapter when Rob's visits his VA psychologist. Finally, I've now come to understand why such a vast number of people become so extremely fond of cats and dogs. I simply could not refrain myself from reading this complicated yet extremely enjoyable and informative book a second time. Kamaran Green, Belize
  • 8 person found this review helpful

    8 people found this review helpful

    8 of 8 people found this review helpful

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    Reading This Book Truly Transported Me

    Three areas of this terrific book truly struck a chord with me. Rob's flashback to Vietnam and his friend Zack in the tent with the foxholes during the mortar attack. This scene, superbly written, made me feel as though I were actually there with them---I could clearly visualize the water from the nearby creek rushing into the side of the tent after the Vietcong mortar struck very close by, and the flickering light, the smoke and acrid odors. I loved the parts where Rob and Zack discussed Edgar Allen Poe, my favorite author of all time. (I've always suspected Poe had something wrong with him. I knew he died on the streets of Baltimore, knew he drank too much, but never realized he probably suffered from PTSD.) Finally, in the area where Rob and Samantha discussed "The Wizard of Oz," and how it related to their current situation, especially how it allegorically related to Samantha's dad---this was spot on. I watch the movie every Christmas season and hear the song 'Over the Rainbow' at least three or four times a day over my easy-listening radio station. I rarely even think this about any book I've ever read, let alone say it, but this book, "Iniquities of Gulch Fork," really and truly transported me to the wonderful world of intense enjoyment.
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