Entertainment Weekly

Subscribe

Stay Connected

Subscribe

Advertise With Us

Learn More

Skip to content

Article

Buffalo Soldiers

Posted on

It’s the late 1970s or early ’80s, and you’re in West Germany with the U.S. Army. Officially, you write memos that keep your commanding officer’s skids well-greased. Unofficially, you deal in heroin and anything that can fall off a truck. You’re white, so you’ve hired the biggest, toughest black man on the base as your No. 2. You sample your own goods, but not enough to lower the IQ — or so you tell yourself.

Robert O’Connor’s second-person, present-tense novel is a funny, scary study of the peacetime Army making war on itself. Tightly plotted, sharply observed, and written in a style of terse, colloquial meanness, Buffalo Soldiers reads like a GI version of Elmore Leonard. Like most army novels, it strains credulity whenever a character requiring the pronoun she trots across the page. Apart from that, it’s an impressive debut. A-