Cherries - A Vietnam War Novel

General Fiction, History

By John Podlaski

Publisher : John Podlaski

ABOUT John Podlaski

John Podlaski
John Podlaski (1951 - ) was raised in Detroit, Michigan and attended St. Charles and St. Thomas Apostle catholic schools until graduating in 1969. Immediately afterwards, John started to work for one of the automotive parts suppliers in the area and attended junior college full-tim More...



When a soldier leaves for war, those left behind often wonder what their loved ones are experiencing. Letters home are always cheerful and vague - no sense in worrying the family. Then upon returning home, these young soldiers do not want to talk about their experiences. Family and friends allege they are now distant, changed, and not the same person they remember from several months earlier. What causes this?

Although the backdrop for this novel is the Vietnam War, "cherries" exist in every war. They are the young "newbie" soldiers, who are trained for war. However, most are not ready to absorb the harsh physical, mental, and emotional stress of war. Once they come under fire and witness death firsthand, a life-changing transition begins. This eye-opening account offers listeners an in-depth look into the everyday struggles of these young infantry soldiers. You'll feel their fear, awe, drama, and sorrow, witness the bravery and sometimes laugh at their humor.

No two war experiences are the same, but after finishing Cherries - A Vietnam War Novel, readers will have a much better understanding as to why these changes occur and why our military heroes are different upon their return home. Veterans will relate!

Witnessing the rite of passage that all soldiers make when introduced to war for the first time. These 18 year old soldiers were not ready to absorb the harsh physical, emotional and mental trauma that the conflict eventually take upon these young men. Although the setting for this story is Vietnam, these experiences have occurred to many in other wars. It is an opportunity for the reader to understand why these returning heroes are so much different from how they were before leaving for war.

What others are saying about Cherries:


“With striking detail and brutal honesty, Cherries is nothing if not compelling.  Every bit as gritty and shocking as can be imagined, Cherries: A Vietnam War Novel is a refreshingly honest account of a life few of us would ever choose to live - and, thus, should feel fortunate that we don't have to.  A highly recommended read.”

- Karynda Lewis, Apex Review


“As an avid reader of many historical memoirs, both fiction and autobiographical, rarely have I found one as in depth and revealing as Mr. Podlaski's work...undoubtedly this scene is occurring today with veterans returning from the Middle East.  By reading Cherries, you will get the knowledge and feel of what it was like in Vietnam, stories that many memoirs of this war collectively failed to mention!  Cherries is a highly recommended read!” 

-Bernie Weisz, Vietnam War historian


“The author is a terrific storyteller.  This book flows so well, you will not be able to go to sleep without reading the next chapter.  Podlaski has you in the palm of his hand.” 

-William E. Peterson, Missions of Fire and Mercy


“Once I started reading John's Cherries, I could not put it down - intense, provocative, mesmerizing, emotional, and heartfelt.  You will feel as if you are right there in the platoon with the grunts as they live through the terrors, the dangers, the trials and tribulations, and sometimes the joys and humor of being at and in war.  One `read' will not be enough.  You will want to pass through the pages of `Cherries' more than once just to savor the up close and personal story again.” 

-Jerry Kunnath, author


“I could never have written this amazing book.  When I told my story, I had to fill it full of the emotion I felt but never expressed in Vietnam.  Podlaski, on the other hand, managed to stay true to the original experience by telling his story with little or no emotion.  The effect is that Cherries is an excellent primer for students of the Vietnam War that are interested in the grunt experience.  The last chapter alone is well worth the price of this book.”

-Terry P. Rizzoli, The Second Tour


“Podlaski takes readers on a gritty, visceral tour of 'Nam through the eyes and lives of the men who fought the war and who, at any given moment could be thrust into harm’s way.  We are right there with his characters on patrol, setting up claymores, walking point, and above all trying to stay alive.  This is the day-to-day life story of the men who started out as "cherries" and tried to stay alive.”

-Jeffrey Miller, War Remains


“I am not a person who generally reads war novels, but I really could not put this book down.  I read it twice!  The author takes you along on the journey where you get to watch the main character grow from a scared young kid just out of high school into a savvy, skilled leader in the span of a year, and he helps you to understand how it happens.”

-Janet Shupe


“I just finished reading Cherries.  I could so relate to many things in this well written novel.  I know what it is like to see so many lose their life.  I helped carry them out onto the choppers.  My 3rd week over in the "Nam" we were choppered in on helicopters to be a blocking force.  Four hours later, we went from 250 or so to only 79.  The rest were killed or wounded.  It was hard for me to get through this book due to the tears that brought back so many similar episodes.” 

-Joel Lee Russell, Escaping Death’s Sting