Tag Archives: “The Butterfly Rose”

Review: The Butterfly Rose

A new review of my novel The Butterfly Rose by Tom Werzyn in the Oct. 3, issue of the online VVA Veteran Magazine:

Rarely these days are readers granted an opportunity to enjoy an offering so well constructed and presented as Dick Stanley’s novel, The Butterfly Rose(Cavalry Scout Books, 252 pp. $13.08, paper; $.99, Kindle), a three-generation story of an American and a Vietnamese family’s involvement with each in Vietnam.

Stanley, a former journalist who served in the infantry in the Vietnam War, wordsmiths the English language to an almost lyrical presentation.

One example: “It is a valley of flowers but none is more beautiful than the silken, five petal roses that turn many colors in their brief lives, as ephemeral as butterflies fluttering on a green bush.”

The Butterfly Rose centers on a young, Confederate Army officer, Sean Constantine, a large man with a glowing mane of red hair and a beard to match. After participating in The battle of Manassas, he joins the French Foreign Legion. Through a series of events involving his brother, father, black servant, and a stay in Paris, Constantine is posted to a colonial French garrison in the Central Highlands of Vietnam.

His love of roses, developed over the years of his Mississippi youth and his worldly travels, finds a like-minded individual in the 1860s in Vietnam: a village shaman, an old woman skilled in naturopathic and herbal medicines and remedies. She also is a conjurer who converses with the many gods and deities roaming the Vietnamese jungles.

Dick Stanley

Fast forward a century to a team of American advisers working with an [RF-PF] combat team in that same Central Highlands valley near Que Son. Neal Constantine, a red-headed grandson of Sean, is a member of that American team, working as a historian. He possesses his grandfathers’ 1860s diary and flower guide. And he meets the great granddaughter of the village healer, without knowing about the earlier family connection.

The story toggles back and forth between the centuries, chapter by chapter. Parallels are drawn, including the weather, expectations of higher commands, tactics, ideologies, as well as the relationship between the big, red-headed American and the old healer and their shared interest in the roses that populate the valley.

This novel artfully spans nations, generations, wars and people, and it ties all those strands together with a shared love of flowers and of the short gift we all share with each other—that of life.

My Amazon giveaways

The Bloody Thirteenth garnered 544 hits and 287 entrants which culled 20 winners of free Kindle books. A giveaway contest that’s over now.

The Butterfly Rose is doing poorly, gathering 1356 hits but only 326 entrants which, so far, have amounted to only 3 winners. The BFR giveways ends at midnight PDT.

Try them, you might like them. At only 99 cents, how can you lose?

Via Amazon

Hoi An, the colonial Williamsburg of Vietnam


Another from OCS bud Jay Fortun. My old stomping ground of Hoi An (first half of 1970) was a major stop on the ancient Europe-to-China sea route around Africa called the Silk Road. As such the seaside town of about 120,000 today has long had warehouses and villas built by Dutch, Portuguese and Japanese.

My Advisory Team 15’s compound was believed to have been built by the East India Company. Subject of one of my short stories in Leaving The Alamo and more in my novel The Butterfly Rose.

Hanoi is now promoting the little port for tourism, including building hotels, and Jay says the crowds of foreigners show it’s working. Even UNESCO is in on the act, branding the core area of about five by five city blocks a historical preservation site.

When Old Ironsides shelled Da Nang


It was in the spring of 1845, according to the USS Constitution Museum, at the Charlestown Navy Yard in Massachusetts, where Old Ironsides is docked nearby, still afloat after more than 200 years.

Captain John “Mad Jack” Percival was then in charge of the pride of the American Revolution’s world cruise and he ordered the shelling that redistributed some of the tile on the roofs of old Da Nang. Back then the French had dubbed it Tourane—or soup bowl—for the shape of its harbor on the South China Sea.

Percival was acting on behalf of what he thought were some unfairly detained French missionaries, though the Vietnamese emperor Thiệu Trị considered them disruptive. I alluded to the incident in my Vietnam war novel The Butterfly Rose, which focuses not only on our war there but the 19th century French invasion as well.

I didn’t give much space to the shelling, apparently done by the ship’s starboard Paixhans guns, the first naval guns designed to fire explosive shells, being preoccupied by my fictional French Foreign Legion assault on Hoi An a few miles south and almost 20 years in the future, during the American civil war.

So it’s good to see the museum website’s offering of the story and you should give it a read to appreciate just how long ago American involvement in that part of the world began—almost a hundred years older than the accepted 1950s version of most contemporary histories.

Our post WWII role as world policeman, it seems, is much older than we think.

Typhoid Mary in San Francisco

Typhoid fever is not a modern disease, except in developing countries with sanitation problems, particularly Africa. Now it’s come to San Francisco, via a new Typhoid Mary (or Matthew) who infected an unknown number of cafe patrons for five days starting on April 16. The original Mary was a cook.

Historically, typhoid fever has stricken armies whose commanders have lost control of their sanitation, a detail I used to dramatic effect in my Viet Nam war novel The Butterfly Rose. The bacterial disease is transmitted by food and water contaminated by the feces of a victim and can be fatal if patients don’t take all of their antibiotic even after they feel better. There’ve been vaccines to protect against it since World War II but, of course, vaccination is controversial among the enlightened of places like San Francisco.

Via Instapundit

Waiting for the reviews

Finishing a novel and then waiting for the reviews, according to Keith Ridgeway, isn’t fun.

“It’s a little like crawling from a car crash to be greeted by a panel of strangers holding up score cards.”

Ain’t it the truth. So far I’ve been lucky, but with more than a hundred copies taken when the novel was on Amazon’s free promotion list, there’s bound to be some contrary ones out there just waiting to hold up their score cards. Stands to reason.

The Butterfly Rose

SciFi novelist Al Past, a friend and fellow Indie novelist, left a nice review at Amazon on my newly-published Vietnam war novel The Butterfly Rose.

Al didn’t know it when he read the book and wrote the review but he was only my second reader. Check out this latest effort by our very own Cavalry Scout Books. The Butterfly is a Kindle ebook at Amazon for just 99 cents. Come on, big spender. Give it a try.