Book Reviews of Slow Dance on the Killing Ground

Slow Dance on the Killing Ground
Slow Dance on the Killing Ground
Author: Lenox Cramer
ISBN-13: 9780380714452
ISBN-10: 0380714450
Publication Date: 7/1991
Pages: 272
Rating:
  • Currently 5/5 Stars.
 1

5 stars, based on 1 rating
Publisher: Avon Books (Mm)
Book Type: Paperback
Reviews: Amazon | Write a Review

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Helpful Score: 2
Vietnam combat
reviewed Slow Dance on the Killing Ground on + 119 more book reviews
This book, written by an Lennox Cramer (a pseudonym) is a story that the reader will continually ask himself: "did this really happen"? The stories contained within the 272 pages are so incredible, one really questions the authenticity of these anecdotes.However, 99% of the stories in this book are real. Cramer grew up on the rough streets of Detroit, Michigan. As a teenager, Cramer got into a fight with a member of a motorcycle gang that bothered him and demanded that Cramer pay for protection. Cramer shot the gang member in the leg, was arrested and promptly sent to a juvenile detention center. As Cramer relates: "Dad made a deal with the judge. In return for a clean slate, I would enlist in the Army for three years." Serving for three years with the 173rd Airborne Brigade, and then joining the Long Range Reconnaissance Patrol element of the 173rd, he finished out his tour and returned to the U.S. shortly after the Tet Offensive of January, 1968. Why did Cramer decide to go back and become a Green Beret? I have read many accounts of returning G.I's and their account of the disappointment of returning home and Cramer's account seems too accurate to be fictionalized. Cramer wrote upon returning from 'Nam: "Outside the perimeter fence of the airbase, a huge crowd carried signs on sticks. Most were dressed in multicolored clothes. Their signs read "peace", "love" and something about baby killers. As our buses pulled out of the front gate of the base, the people in the colorful clothes went crazy. Raw eggs splattered the bus. Since it was late summer and hot, most of the soldiers had opened their windows. Everything that was being thrown by the crowd came into the bus, hitting the guys that were fresh out of the killing grounds". The Green Beret sitting next to me said that these people were hippie war protesters. A couple of them ran up to the bus and threw bags at us. The bags were filled with human feces." How tragic it was to treat returning soldiers that had just put their lives on the line in the defense of democracy and this country. Without being a "plot-spoiler" (this is a book that "MUST" be read cover to cover!), Cramer realizes that he enjoys war, killing, and the rush that goes with it. Choosing to reeinlist, Cramer wrote: "I knew there was nothing for me in the U.S. at that time. The only real ties I had to anyone or anything was in the Special Forces. I was one of their professionals now, like it or not. And the bulk of professional soldiers were where the action was, in 'Nam. I was a highly trained killer. I belonged in 'Nam, with men like myself who would accept me for who and what I was right then. When I returned to Ft. Bragg, I volunteered for the 5th Special Forces Group, Vietnam". What the reader encounters very few people hear about when they learn about this country's role in the Vietnam War. Covert operations into countries we were not supposed to be in (Laos and Cambodia), assassinations of undesirables-both American and South Vietnamese, as well as of the enemy as well as covert operations and involvement of our own Central Intelligence Program in the war effort. Cramer quickly qualifies this book initially as fiction. He explains: "This is a work of fiction. It is based on my experiences while serving in Southeast Asia. The names, dates, times and places have been changed to protect the innocent and the guilty alike, as well as to protect me from violating any National Security Act. To the best of my knowlwdge, all of the missions of the Special Operations Group (SOG) are still classified. Everything has been kept as close to fact as possible, even the gist of conversations. Special Forces operatives were the finest the army had to offer during the S.E. Asian conflict They paid for their courage, training, dedication, skill and motivation with blood, wounds, death and ultimately the loss of the cause for which they had so valiently fought. Still, they fought it well. For us, the warriors, it was our "raison d'etre", or as the Japanese warrior-mystics put it, "The mission is everything." We danced the slow dance on the killing grounds, to the tune called by others, obedient to the end." Cramer made some very important observations about the comraderie of the S.O.G. that unparralled any other military group. Cramer explained: "There was a bond, a comraderie among those men that is nearly unparalled elsewhere. The green hat (the green beret) became our bond, our symbol. We knew we could depend on each other, no matter what. And everyone else was suspect. The CIA were trecherous, the grunts or infantry soldiers were sloppy, the Army of the Republic of Vietnam (ARVN) was undependable, and the North Vietnam Army (NVA) the enemy. All of them could get you killed. Green Hats, on the other hand, were friends." Other books echo this. One in particular (see my review) "Across The Fence-The Secret War In Vietnam" by John S. Meyer basically echos similar sentiments. Stryker wrote: "You can't tell your girlfriend, your mother, no one. If anyone asked about our assignments, we were to simply say that we were with the 5th Special Forces Group in Vietnam. The agreement was binding for 20 years. If anyone violated this agreement, that individual could face federal prosecution, resulting in stiff fines and incarceration, and ruin any future government or security employment opportunities. We were prohibited from writing anything about the operation, forbidden from keeping diaries, taking photos, making drawings or tape recording notes of any sort. No identification papers (on SOG members), no dog tags, no diaries. Everyone would wear sterile fatigues, with no company insignia, no nametags, no unit designators or combat infantry badges. Why? Because Laos and Cambodia were neutral, the U.S. Government could publicly proclaim that the U.S. respected that "neutrality". Thus, if we were killed in Laos, Cambodia or North Vietnam, the U.S. Government would deny having anything to do with us. The U.S. Government would explain that no Americans were stationed in Laos or Cambodia, which was tecnnically accurate. The U.S. Government had "plausible deniability" if we were captured or killed". Stryker's book is nonfiction. However, too many of Cramer's stories follow the facts very closely that Meyer sets forth to be made up. Cramer has several stories of being deep in enemy territory grabbing important human targets with fellow SOG members. These stories are corroborated by John L. Plaster's book "SOG". Plaster asserts: 'The SOG mission that most demanded ingenuity and audacity was snatching enemy prisoners. By hook and crook, by trickery and device, by technology and technique, SOG men aspired to perfect their kidnapping craft, developing more skill in this artful science than at any time in previous military history. Rewards and accolades were heaped upon successful snatchers, and with good reason:there is no intelligence source so fruitful as a freshly snatched prisoner. Taking a prisoner meant a free R & R to Taiwan aboard a SOG Blackbird on a maintanence rotation, a $100 cash bonus for each American and a new Seiko wristwatch and cash to each Nung or Montegnanrd. A snatch meant initiating contact in dangerous areas, against forces that usually outnumbered your team. And when you grabbed someone, the prisoner slowed your pace while other NVA chased all the harder, knowing you had one of their own." Finally, Cramer writes about laying secret motion sensors in the ground that detected enemy movement deep in hostile territory. This was an innovation of the Vietnam War, a technology that is now commonplace. In conclusion, Cramer's description of his view of the Vietnam War is memorable. Cramer explains: "Nam was a rock 'n' roll kind of war. It seemed incongruous to me that professional killers like us were rocking to the same music as the hippies, who obviously hated us. But alot of the younger green hats were. And when I say I was "into" rock, I mean to the point that I could name every song on any given album, knew the words to most of them by heart and knew the name of every band member for every band I liked and their history. All of us had our little vices, but they were never talked about as long as they didn't interfere with our performance on a mission. I drank, smoked weed on occassion and ate benzedrine in the field when I needed it. It was issued to us. Some of the others did the same and some didn't. As long as I didnt get drunk on a mission, light a joint in the field or become addicted to anything other than the combat itself, no one cared what I did to survive between ops. It was an unwritten rule of the war". A final warning. The violence in this book is extremely brutal and graphic, and is not reccommended reading for anyone underaged or for anyone with a weak stomach. However, Cramer's tale, only fictionalized to protect sensitive (now declassified) information of national security, will give you the inside story of what happened in Vietnam that no history book will ever tell you.
There is one more point I would like to bring out! I would like to quote a section out of "Stolen Valor" by Burkett Whitley ISBN#:1-56530-284-2 "Some authors turn to creative writing about the war because they have considerable time on their hands. in early 1991, I was alerted by retired Col. Jack Abraham, president of the Special Operations Association, about a book called "Slow Dance On The Killing Ground" by Lenox Cramer. The book purported to be the "true" experiences of Cramer performing clandestine operations as a Green Beret in S.E. Asia, specially trained in martial arts. Cramer's previous book was called "War With Empty Hands:Self Defense Against Aggression". Abraham suspected that Cramer's fantastic tales were bogus. Reprinted in the front of the book-clearly an effort to show that the author was a genuine war hero and the story was real-was a copy of the author's DD-214, showing work with Special Forces with the name whited out. The form indicated that the writer had received a Distinguished Service Cross, a silver Star, 2 Bronze Star Medals for valor, 5 Purple Hearts, and a Combat Infantry Badge. But numerous typing and record keeping errors made it easy to see the document was a crude forgery. Working in conjunction with Abraham of the SOA, I began tracking down information about Cramer. The book said that Lenox Cramer was a "Nom De Guerre" ( a pen name); I wanted to know the author's real name, Alpha Publications would not tell me. The SOA kept after the publisher. Finally, in a letter to Col. Abraham, John Staub, director of Alpha Publications, explained that the authour's real name was Michael Erik Cramer and enclosed his DD-214. "I would appreciate being kept informed of your finding," Staub wrote. "If the author has misrepresented himself to us, we would have to take the necessary legal actions since this would be a breach of contract." Cramer himself, hearing about the questions, wrote a letter to Abraham, contending that his book was based partially on actual experience and in part on stories related to him by participants. "I was unsure of what might still be classified, so to be safe in that regard, and again for the sake of "dramatization", I altered the who, what, when, and where significantly," he wrote. He also explained why he could not use his real name, To his embarrassment, he was incarcerated in the Kentucky State Prison and had been since February, 1978. "When threatened, I reacted the way I had been trained," Cramer wrote. "Unfortunately, it was in the wrong country at the wrong time". A light clicked on in my head. I checked with the prison. They had Lenox, not Michael, in jail. The prison personnel people gave me his biographical data. I checked St. Louis and located a record for a Lenox Cramer. His social security number was the same as the number of the Lenox Cramer in prison. Bingo! Cramer had contended to the publisher that Michael was his real name so that nobody would check the military record for Lenox. The record indicated that Cramer had never been a Green Beret. He was a clerk-typist and his only overseas assignment was in Germany. His service was marred by several AWOL's and charges of possession of amphetamine and a pipe with marijuana residue, and the wrongful possession of a switchblade knife. He had been courtmarshalled out of the service. Abraham wrote back to Alpha Publications with the news. Despite his earlier letter pledging to take action, Staub was indifferent. He was satisfied with Cramer's explanations that his clandestine missions were classified, and besides, Alpha had sold the paperback rights to Avon Books. An editor at Avon readily admitted they did not verify that Cramer had served in Vietnam. He even laughed about it. Avon packaged "Slow Dance" as fiction completely based on the "true life" of Lenox Cramer. When I found out Cramer was in the Kentucky State Prison, I did not think to ask why he was incarcerated. In 1994, when Tom Jarriel of 20/20 decided he wanted to use Cramer's story, his producers checked with the prison system. They quickly informed me that he had been convicted of the brutal and sadistic murder of a hitchhiker. But they also found out he was no longer on prison rolls. When the producer told me this, I managed a weak laugh. "You're going to have me on national television exposing a murderer who is out there and free? I said. "Don't worry, your murder will make a great ending to our story," the producer joked. But the next day, 20/20 located Cramer. He had been sent to Florida to stand trial for killing 2 people in a contract hit. I was substantially relieved to find out that Mr. Cramer would be incarcerated for a considerable amount of time. Cramer agreed to an on-camera interview with 20/20. It turned out that Cramer had been the star of a creative writing class in prison. He had built a reputation as a martial arts expert in his previous books, then totally fabricated his persona as a Green Beret in Vietnam, But when confronted with his real record, Cramer refused to 'fess up. Why should he? He can make big bucks sitting in prison, spinning ludricrous tales about Vietnam and selling them to gullible producers". So...here's the bottom line, fake or real, the book was entertaining, was put out there as fiction and was an excellent read. One can enjoy "The Deer Hunter" or "Apocaplypse Now" without getting upset that it was based on fiction. However, the true historian should read "Stolen Valor". It will change the way one reads a memoir or biography with a much more critical and discernable eye! Is "Slow Dance on the Killing Ground" real? You be the judge! Let me know
reviewed Slow Dance on the Killing Ground on + 119 more book reviews
This book, written by an Lennox Cramer (a pseudonym) is a story that the reader will continually ask himself: "did this really happen"? The stories contained within the 272 pages are so incredible, one really questions the authenticity of these anecdotes.However, 99% of the stories in this book are real. Cramer grew up on the rough streets of Detroit, Michigan. As a teenager, Cramer got into a fight with a member of a motorcycle gang that bothered him and demanded that Cramer pay for protection. Cramer shot the gang member in the leg, was arrested and promptly sent to a juvenile detention center. As Cramer relates: "Dad made a deal with the judge. In return for a clean slate, I would enlist in the Army for three years." Serving for three years with the 173rd Airborne Brigade, and then joining the Long Range Reconnaissance Patrol element of the 173rd, he finished out his tour and returned to the U.S. shortly after the Tet Offensive of January, 1968. Why did Cramer decide to go back and become a Green Beret? I have read many accounts of returning G.I's and their account of the disappointment of returning home and Cramer's account seems too accurate to be fictionalized. Cramer wrote upon returning from 'Nam: "Outside the perimeter fence of the airbase, a huge crowd carried signs on sticks. Most were dressed in multicolored clothes. Their signs read "peace", "love" and something about baby killers. As our buses pulled out of the front gate of the base, the people in the colorful clothes went crazy. Raw eggs splattered the bus. Since it was late summer and hot, most of the soldiers had opened their windows. Everything that was being thrown by the crowd came into the bus, hitting the guys that were fresh out of the killing grounds". The Green Beret sitting next to me said that these people were hippie war protesters. A couple of them ran up to the bus and threw bags at us. The bags were filled with human feces." How tragic it was to treat returning soldiers that had just put their lives on the line in the defense of democracy and this country. Without being a "plot-spoiler" (this is a book that "MUST" be read cover to cover!), Cramer realizes that he enjoys war, killing, and the rush that goes with it. Choosing to reeinlist, Cramer wrote: "I knew there was nothing for me in the U.S. at that time. The only real ties I had to anyone or anything was in the Special Forces. I was one of their professionals now, like it or not. And the bulk of professional soldiers were where the action was, in 'Nam. I was a highly trained killer. I belonged in 'Nam, with men like myself who would accept me for who and what I was right then. When I returned to Ft. Bragg, I volunteered for the 5th Special Forces Group, Vietnam". What the reader encounters very few people hear about when they learn about this country's role in the Vietnam War. Covert operations into countries we were not supposed to be in (Laos and Cambodia), assassinations of undesirables-both American and South Vietnamese, as well as of the enemy as well as covert operations and involvement of our own Central Intelligence Program in the war effort. Cramer quickly qualifies this book initially as fiction. He explains: "This is a work of fiction. It is based on my experiences while serving in Southeast Asia. The names, dates, times and places have been changed to protect the innocent and the guilty alike, as well as to protect me from violating any National Security Act. To the best of my knowlwdge, all of the missions of the Special Operations Group (SOG) are still classified. Everything has been kept as close to fact as possible, even the gist of conversations. Special Forces operatives were the finest the army had to offer during the S.E. Asian conflict They paid for their courage, training, dedication, skill and motivation with blood, wounds, death and ultimately the loss of the cause for which they had so valiently fought. Still, they fought it well. For us, the warriors, it was our "raison d'etre", or as the Japanese warrior-mystics put it, "The mission is everything." We danced the slow dance on the killing grounds, to the tune called by others, obedient to the end." Cramer made some very important observations about the comraderie of the S.O.G. that unparralled any other military group. Cramer explained: "There was a bond, a comraderie among those men that is nearly unparalled elsewhere. The green hat (the green beret) became our bond, our symbol. We knew we could depend on each other, no matter what. And everyone else was suspect. The CIA were trecherous, the grunts or infantry soldiers were sloppy, the Army of the Republic of Vietnam (ARVN) was undependable, and the North Vietnam Army (NVA) the enemy. All of them could get you killed. Green Hats, on the other hand, were friends." Other books echo this. One in particular (see my review) "Across The Fence-The Secret War In Vietnam" by John S. Meyer basically echos similar sentiments. Stryker wrote: "You can't tell your girlfriend, your mother, no one. If anyone asked about our assignments, we were to simply say that we were with the 5th Special Forces Group in Vietnam. The agreement was binding for 20 years. If anyone violated this agreement, that individual could face federal prosecution, resulting in stiff fines and incarceration, and ruin any future government or security employment opportunities. We were prohibited from writing anything about the operation, forbidden from keeping diaries, taking photos, making drawings or tape recording notes of any sort. No identification papers (on SOG members), no dog tags, no diaries. Everyone would wear sterile fatigues, with no company insignia, no nametags, no unit designators or combat infantry badges. Why? Because Laos and Cambodia were neutral, the U.S. Government could publicly proclaim that the U.S. respected that "neutrality". Thus, if we were killed in Laos, Cambodia or North Vietnam, the U.S. Government would deny having anything to do with us. The U.S. Government would explain that no Americans were stationed in Laos or Cambodia, which was tecnnically accurate. The U.S. Government had "plausible deniability" if we were captured or killed". Stryker's book is nonfiction. However, too many of Cramer's stories follow the facts very closely that Meyer sets forth to be made up. Cramer has several stories of being deep in enemy territory grabbing important human targets with fellow SOG members. These stories are corroborated by John L. Plaster's book "SOG". Plaster asserts: 'The SOG mission that most demanded ingenuity and audacity was snatching enemy prisoners. By hook and crook, by trickery and device, by technology and technique, SOG men aspired to perfect their kidnapping craft, developing more skill in this artful science than at any time in previous military history. Rewards and accolades were heaped upon successful snatchers, and with good reason:there is no intelligence source so fruitful as a freshly snatched prisoner. Taking a prisoner meant a free R & R to Taiwan aboard a SOG Blackbird on a maintanence rotation, a $100 cash bonus for each American and a new Seiko wristwatch and cash to each Nung or Montegnanrd. A snatch meant initiating contact in dangerous areas, against forces that usually outnumbered your team. And when you grabbed someone, the prisoner slowed your pace while other NVA chased all the harder, knowing you had one of their own." Finally, Cramer writes about laying secret motion sensors in the ground that detected enemy movement deep in hostile territory. This was an innovation of the Vietnam War, a technology that is now commonplace. In conclusion, Cramer's description of his view of the Vietnam War is memorable. Cramer explains: "Nam was a rock 'n' roll kind of war. It seemed incongruous to me that professional killers like us were rocking to the same music as the hippies, who obviously hated us. But alot of the younger green hats were. And when I say I was "into" rock, I mean to the point that I could name every song on any given album, knew the words to most of them by heart and knew the name of every band member for every band I liked and their history. All of us had our little vices, but they were never talked about as long as they didn't interfere with our performance on a mission. I drank, smoked weed on occassion and ate benzedrine in the field when I needed it. It was issued to us. Some of the others did the same and some didn't. As long as I didnt get drunk on a mission, light a joint in the field or become addicted to anything other than the combat itself, no one cared what I did to survive between ops. It was an unwritten rule of the war". A final warning. The violence in this book is extremely brutal and graphic, and is not reccommended reading for anyone underaged or for anyone with a weak stomach. However, Cramer's tale, only fictionalized to protect sensitive (now declassified) information of national security, will give you the inside story of what happened in Vietnam that no history book will ever tell you.
There is one more point I would like to bring out! I would like to quote a section out of "Stolen Valor" by Burkett Whitley ISBN#:1-56530-284-2 "Some authors turn to creative writing about the war because they have considerable time on their hands. in early 1991, I was alerted by retired Col. Jack Abraham, president of the Special Operations Association, about a book called "Slow Dance On The Killing Ground" by Lenox Cramer. The book purported to be the "true" experiences of Cramer performing clandestine operations as a Green Beret in S.E. Asia, specially trained in martial arts. Cramer's previous book was called "War With Empty Hands:Self Defense Against Aggression". Abraham suspected that Cramer's fantastic tales were bogus. Reprinted in the front of the book-clearly an effort to show that the author was a genuine war hero and the story was real-was a copy of the author's DD-214, showing work with Special Forces with the name whited out. The form indicated that the writer had received a Distinguished Service Cross, a silver Star, 2 Bronze Star Medals for valor, 5 Purple Hearts, and a Combat Infantry Badge. But numerous typing and record keeping errors made it easy to see the document was a crude forgery. Working in conjunction with Abraham of the SOA, I began tracking down information about Cramer. The book said that Lenox Cramer was a "Nom De Guerre" ( a pen name); I wanted to know the author's real name, Alpha Publications would not tell me. The SOA kept after the publisher. Finally, in a letter to Col. Abraham, John Staub, director of Alpha Publications, explained that the authour's real name was Michael Erik Cramer and enclosed his DD-214. "I would appreciate being kept informed of your finding," Staub wrote. "If the author has misrepresented himself to us, we would have to take the necessary legal actions since this would be a breach of contract." Cramer himself, hearing about the questions, wrote a letter to Abraham, contending that his book was based partially on actual experience and in part on stories related to him by participants. "I was unsure of what might still be classified, so to be safe in that regard, and again for the sake of "dramatization", I altered the who, what, when, and where significantly," he wrote. He also explained why he could not use his real name, To his embarrassment, he was incarcerated in the Kentucky State Prison and had been since February, 1978. "When threatened, I reacted the way I had been trained," Cramer wrote. "Unfortunately, it was in the wrong country at the wrong time". A light clicked on in my head. I checked with the prison. They had Lenox, not Michael, in jail. The prison personnel people gave me his biographical data. I checked St. Louis and located a record for a Lenox Cramer. His social security number was the same as the number of the Lenox Cramer in prison. Bingo! Cramer had contended to the publisher that Michael was his real name so that nobody would check the military record for Lenox. The record indicated that Cramer had never been a Green Beret. He was a clerk-typist and his only overseas assignment was in Germany. His service was marred by several AWOL's and charges of possession of amphetamine and a pipe with marijuana residue, and the wrongful possession of a switchblade knife. He had been courtmarshalled out of the service. Abraham wrote back to Alpha Publications with the news. Despite his earlier letter pledging to take action, Staub was indifferent. He was satisfied with Cramer's explanations that his clandestine missions were classified, and besides, Alpha had sold the paperback rights to Avon Books. An editor at Avon readily admitted they did not verify that Cramer had served in Vietnam. He even laughed about it. Avon packaged "Slow Dance" as fiction completely based on the "true life" of Lenox Cramer. When I found out Cramer was in the Kentucky State Prison, I did not think to ask why he was incarcerated. In 1994, when Tom Jarriel of 20/20 decided he wanted to use Cramer's story, his producers checked with the prison system. They quickly informed me that he had been convicted of the brutal and sadistic murder of a hitchhiker. But they also found out he was no longer on prison rolls. When the producer told me this, I managed a weak laugh. "You're going to have me on national television exposing a murderer who is out there and free? I said. "Don't worry, your murder will make a great ending to our story," the producer joked. But the next day, 20/20 located Cramer. He had been sent to Florida to stand trial for killing 2 people in a contract hit. I was substantially relieved to find out that Mr. Cramer would be incarcerated for a considerable amount of time. Cramer agreed to an on-camera interview with 20/20. It turned out that Cramer had been the star of a creative writing class in prison. He had built a reputation as a martial arts expert in his previous books, then totally fabricated his persona as a Green Beret in Vietnam, But when confronted with his real record, Cramer refused to 'fess up. Why should he? He can make big bucks sitting in prison, spinning ludricrous tales about Vietnam and selling them to gullible producers". So...here's the bottom line, fake or real, the book was entertaining, was put out there as fiction and was an excellent read. One can enjoy "The Deer Hunter" or "Apocaplypse Now" without getting upset that it was based on fiction. However, the true historian should read "Stolen Valor". It will change the way one reads a memoir or biography with a much more critical and discernable eye! Is "Slow Dance on the Killing Ground" real? You be the judge! Let me know