Indian Country is a sweeping, brave and compassionate story from one of our most acclaimed chroniclers of the Vietnam experience. Christian Starkmann follows his boyhood friend, an Ojibwa Indian called Bonny George, from the wilderness of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, where they roamed, hunted and fished in their youths, to the wilderness of Vietnam, where they serve as soldiers in the same platoon. After returning home from the war, his friend buried on the battlefield he left ...
Indian Country is a sweeping, brave and compassionate story from one of our most acclaimed chroniclers of the Vietnam experience.
Christian Starkmann follows his boyhood friend, an Ojibwa Indian called Bonny George, from the wilderness of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, where they roamed, hunted and fished in their youths, to the wilderness of Vietnam, where they serve as soldiers in the same platoon. After returning home from the war, his friend buried on the battlefield he left behind, Christian begins to make a life for himself. Yet years later, although he is happily married to June, a good-hearted social worker, and has two daughters, Christian is still fighting--with the searing memories of combat, with the paranoid visions that are clouding his marriage and threatening his career, and most of all with the ghost of Bonny George, who haunts his dreams and presses him to come to terms with a secret so powerful it could destroy everything he has built.
Caputo, best known as author of the much-admired A Rumor of War, returns to the Vietnam conflict in this powerfully conceived, ambitious novelthough this time it is seen as a cataclysm that casts its shadow over a man's life. He is Christian Starkmann, son of a stern, antiwar pastor in the forested depths of Michigan's Upper Peninsula. As a youth he was bound closely in friendship to a young Indian, Boniface, and determines to go with him to the war. Boniface is killed, Starkmann blames himself, and henceforth he battles for his sanity in a civilian world grown suddenly hostile. His strongest ally in the struggle is his wife June, a sturdy soul whose portrait is Caputo's triumph: rendered utterly without false sentiment, she is a proud, loving, independent woman. Caputo is after something beyond merely resolving whether June can heal Christian, however. At another level his novel is about Indian and white ways of looking at reality, and in several daring passages he takes us into the mind of an elderly Indian medicine man, Boniface's grandfather. More than once the book teeters on the edge of pseudo-poetic mumbo-jumbo, and there are some superfluous and overwrought episodes; but the strength and sinew of Caputo's writing carries his novel through to a truly deserved, deeply felt catharsis. (May 14)
When he returns to Michigan's Upper Peninsula from the hell of Vietnam, Chris Starkmann's mind swirls with memories of his youth and then the war. Partly to oppose his evangelist-pacifist father and partly to be with his Indian friend, Chris had enlisted for Vietnam. His experiences there, including his friend's death, have turned Chris into a loner and a silent stranger. He marries the earthy June, loses his job, turns to drink, and hovers on the edge of madness. After he goes berserk, a return to the natural areas of his youth and a reunion with his Indian friend's grandfather offer him hope for some sort of salvation. The early chapters here sing with the beauty of nature, but they are followed by melodrama and too obvious insights. There is a dramatic flow to the long narrative and one fascinating character in the sensuous June, but this is ultimately a disappointing novel from the author of the remarkable A Rumor of War .Robert H. Donahugh, Youngstown and Mahoning Cty. P.L., Ohio
Publisher: American Audio Prose Library, Incorporated
Publication date: 1/1/1988
Meet the Author
Philip Caputo lives in Norwalk, Connecticut. Born in Chicago, he graduated from Loyola University and was a foreign correspondent for the Chicago Tribune in Italy, the Soviet Union, the Middle East, and Vietnam. He is the author of ten books, including A Rumor of War,Horn of Africa,Exiles, and The Voyage.