CherriesWriter - Vietnam War website

See what War is like and how it affects our Warriors

My Published Books

My Author Page & Book Info

Welcome to my author’s page where you’ll find information about my published books, book trailers, sample chapters, personal videos and podcasts. Only my first two books are related to my personal experience during the Vietnam War. My two short stories describe real incidents of my life, but do not depict any experiences about the Vietnam War. If you’re an avid reader, you’ll enjoy this page and my website in general.

These are my books:

  1. Cherries: A Vietnam War Novel 

In 1970, John Kowalski is one of many young, naive teenage soldiers sent to Vietnam to fight in an unpopular war. Dubbed “Cherries” by their more seasoned peers, these newbies suddenly found themselves thrust into the middle of a terrible nightmare. On-the-job-training is intense, however, most of these teenagers were hardly ready to absorb the harsh mental, emotional, and physical stress of war. When coming under enemy fire and witnessing death first-hand, a life-changing transition begins…one that can’t be reversed. “Cherries” tells it like it is and when finished, readers will have a much better understanding of what these young men had to endure for an entire year. It’s a story that is hard to put down.

CHERRIES Book trailer:

Snippets of Cherries from my audiobook version – in concert with descriptive photos …

347 Book Reviews (4.5 of 5)

Cherries weds a matchless sense of dramatics with the ability to tell a marvelous story.  You have staged excellent, realistic action with convincing effect.  Cherries has a compelling magnetic quality.
–Manuscripts International, 1987

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…
–Bernie Weisz, Vietnam War Historian

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

Podcast: What was it like to hump the boonies in the Vietnam War?

Podcast part 2: Mother Nature and the Infantry Soldier

Did you know that you can read or listen to the first 6 chapters of Cherries: A Vietnam War Novel for free elsewhere on this website: Here’s the link:

Also available on Smashwords for all other e-book readers:

2. When Can I Stop Running? – A Vietnam War Story

The year is 1970, and the story follows the two soldiers – impressionable Detroit teenagers – during their long night in a Listening Post (‘LP’), some 200 meters beyond the bunker line of the new firebase. Their assignment as a “human early warning system”, is to listen for enemy activity and forewarn the base of any potential dangers. As they were new to the “Iron Triangle” and its reputation, little did they know that units before them lost dozens of soldiers in this nightly high-risk task and referred to those assigned as “bait for the enemy” and “sacrificial lambs”. Sitting in the pitch black tropical jungle – with visibility at less than two feet – John’s imagination takes hold throughout the agonizing night, and at times, transports him back to some of his most vivid childhood memories – innocent, but equally terrifying at the time. As kids, we instinctively run as fast as we can to escape imaginary or perceived danger, but as soldiers, men are trained to conquer their fears and develop the confidence to stand their ground and fight. Running is not an option.


Podcast: Author reading preface:

51 Book reviews (4.6 of 5):

“In a brilliant follow-up to his novel “Cherries,” John Podlaski weaves frightening events of his youth into a vivid depiction of a terrifying night as an infantryman on a Listening Post during the Vietnam War.”
– Joe Campolo, Jr., Author of “The Kansas NCO” and “Back To the World.  

“This tome draws the reader into the experiences that only combat personnel can usually hold witness to; broadening our understanding of the true sacrifices our military makes for us and our freedoms every day. ‘When Can I Stop Running’ should be on all of our ‘must-read’ lists.”
-Jerry Kunnath, Writer

“What makes When Can I Stop Running? a different read from ‘Cherries’ are the interludes where Polack, his memories brought to the surface as warily he watches for any movement near the LP, recalls his many adventures with school friends, some terrifying, some funny while growing up in Detroit during the1960’s.  It is in these stories, so familiar to those of us of the Boomer generation, that the author treats us to some of his finest writing. His childhood comes to life in his rich, poetic descriptions. It is a lost world that haunts all of our generation’s memories, just as we are haunted by our memories of the central and defining event of our generation, the Vietnam War.  Highly recommended!”
-Christopher Gaynor, author of “A Soldier Boy Hears the Distant Guns” and countless newspaper articles including a feature story and photos inTime Magazine

“John does a magical job in his second book of weaving the terrors of boyhood adventure with the terrors of war. His words had me laughing and crying while recalling and reliving some of my childhood adventures and the terror of pitch-black nights alone on the floor of jungles in Vietnam.  Thank you, John, for another great adventure!”
Stephen Perry, Author of “Bright Light: Untold Stories of the Top Secret War in Vietnam.”

Did you know that you can read the first 25% of When Can I Stop Running? for free elsewhere on this website: Here’s the link:

Also available on Smashwords for all other e-book readers:

Here is a video showcasing my personal photographs during the Vietnam War with background music of the times. Enjoy!

My next two books are short-stories about incidents that occurred back in the late sixties and early seventies. I was surprised by how many readers claimed to relate to each story. So far, both have received acclaimed reviews. Have a look below:

3.  Unhinged

Two fourteen-year-old boys are offered a great first-time opportunity to watch a movie by themselves at a local drive-in theater. Little did they know that the movie would affect them in ways neither imagined nor will ever forget.

UNHINGED Book trailer:

12 Book Reviews (4.7 of 5):

“Author John Podlaski knows how to grab his readers! Horror movies always scare me, and this story of Nick and Jerry’s work adventure at a drive-in had my heart pumping. This story of two boys getting a full dose of fear with Night of the Living Dead in the dark, in the open is masterful storytelling.”
Rox B., Author

“Quick (and very interesting) storyline … amaze-balls all the way! I felt like that 14-yr old kid running for his life!
Nonnie Jules, Author & President of RRBC

“Mr. Podlaski’s brilliant writing style pens the main characters’ various emotions, especially their fear, with an animated, severe, and yet hilarious fashion.”
Gabby, Author

Also available on Smashwords for all other e-book readers:

4. Unwelcomed

John Kowalski makes it home from the Vietnam War in one piece, and his battles are finally over. Or so he thought. Home for less than a week, John must defend his family from a pair of unwelcomed thugs hell-bent on revenge.

UNWELCOMED Book Trailer:

3 Book Reviews (5.0 of 5): “The author gets inside the heads of the characters and brings them to life. If you like a thought-provoking, action-filled short story, you’ll enjoy this one! It is well-written.”
– Jan S., Author

“I have each one of John’s books and love them! This book pulled me in, captivated me. I wish it would have lasted several hours as I wasn’t ready to put it down.”

“Author John Podlaski is terrific as he sets up this story of middle-class Detroit in the Vietnam era. Young men off fighting a war, while their families continued a level of normalcy. When the soldier receives a letter from his Sis, the events start to unfold. I really enjoyed all the visuals I gained from the words, yet the description of the Dad looking for a weapon struck me as nearly desperate, and I cheered his actions. Mr. Podlaski draws readers into the meat of his stories immediately. I have enjoyed each book of John’s I have read. No words are wasted. There is enough detail to make his characters compelling and relatable. It’s a good read and easy read recommended for young adults and above. I think you will love the ending.”
-Rox B, Author

Also available on Smashwords for all other e-book readers:

5. Death in the Triangle…

Here’s the blurb:

DEATH IN THE TRIANGLE is a sequel to “When Can I Stop Running?”.  That was one hell of a night!

Only a couple of hours passed since returning to the firebase. Now, the sleep deprived and weary First Platoon soldiers must go back out on another patrol. Last night, an enemy mortar team fired several rounds into the base and was soon silenced by return artillery fire. The Third Squad also ambushed a group of enemy soldiers leaving nine dead bodies on the trail before moving out to a new location. A thorough search of both areas may locate items overlooked in the dark.  It was thought to be an easy patrol – two clicks out and two clicks back, so the brass expected their return before lunch. At least, that was the plan.

Many patrols during the Vietnam War did not quite go as planned and this was one of them. These soldiers soon found themselves in dire straits to satisfy their battalion commander’s thirst for body counts and fame. Will they all survive?

Sixpack, Polack, LG, and the bunch are back in this new installment from the award-winning author of “Cherries: A Vietnam War Novel.”

Book Trailer:


Herb McNaspy
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2 thoughts on “My Author Page & Book Info

  1. I fought at LZ ROSS from Dec, 2067 through early April, 1968. We fpught day and night with very little or no sleep. I was slightly wounded on 1/1-2/1968 (middle of the night: HAPPY NEW YEAR). We lost many people, KIA and WIA. I WAS WITH THE 39TH Combat Engineers and the 2nd of the 12th, 1st Cav, Air Mobile. I was afraid of dying almost every minute I was there. I have always been amazed that I lived through some very horrible fighting.


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