The Journal of Patrick Seamus Flaherty: United States Marine Corps, Khe Sanh, Vietnam, 1968

The Journal of Patrick Seamus Flaherty: United States Marine Corps, Khe Sanh, Vietnam, 1968

by Ellen Emerson White
     
 

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The brother of an anti-war demonstrator, a young marine is fighting a war no one understands while his sister is fighting on the home front to end the war in Vietnam and bring her brother home.

An agonizing dilemma plagues these brother-sister diarists. He is a Marine stationed in Vietnam. She is at home in America, far away from her brother's war zone, fighting

Overview

The brother of an anti-war demonstrator, a young marine is fighting a war no one understands while his sister is fighting on the home front to end the war in Vietnam and bring her brother home.

An agonizing dilemma plagues these brother-sister diarists. He is a Marine stationed in Vietnam. She is at home in America, far away from her brother's war zone, fighting for peace. As the marine writes in his journal about his experiences as a soldier, fighting an enemy he can't see, his siter seeks peace. In these gripping installments of DEAR AMERICA and MY NAME IS AMERICA, Ellen Emerson White captures the unique time period when America was at war both in a far-off place, and at home where adults and children alike marched in the streets for peace and freedo. Poignant and comlex, these two characters will give readers glimpse into perhaps the most tumultuous time in modern American history.

Editorial Reviews

KLIATT
These books fit together—The Journal of Patrick Seamus Flaherty and The Diary of Molly MacKenzie Flaherty—brother and sister getting through a terrible period in their lives, and in their country's history. Each could be read separately, but the reader's understanding of the characters and their agonies would be diminished. It doesn't matter which one is read first, I think, because the time period is the same for both diaries. Patrick gets around using truly authentic Marine language by saying he is cleaning it up for the journal in case his family ever reads it. Patrick had enlisted as soon as he was 18 and by Christmas, 1967 he has finished boot camp and is in Vietnam. Soon he is transported to Khe Sanh, which is a target during the Tet Offensive (January 1968, Vietnamese New Year). Marines dug in on isolated hills north, close to the Laotian border, and essentially were under siege for weeks, with many casualties—and Patrick is one of these Marines. Patrick describes the horror around him as friends get hit and die. He also writes about the closeness of the young men in this danger. Letters do get out to his family and come in, as helicopters fly in and out with meager supplies, taking away the dead and wounded and delivering mail. At the same time, Molly, who is Patrick's 16-year-old sister, is back in Boston at high school, trying to keep her life going all the while worried sick about Patrick. Patrick and Molly's father is a firefighter, and his life isn't exactly a safe one, so the family is used to a level of worry. However, the news of the war and the Tet Offensive are all over the TV coverage and in magazines and newspapers, so they are terrified that Patrick willbe hurt or killed. They read his "don't worry about me" letters, but know that things are really bad for him. Molly volunteers at a veterans' hospital, meeting young men like Patrick wounded in Vietnam. There are anti-war protests throughout Boston, and even her high school friends are fiercely divided about the war. Molly herself hates the war, but of course cares about Patrick and the other soldiers she meets. Both of these teenagers are thoughtful about what is happening to them and their family and country. It is easy for the reader to like them both and to try to understand their situations. As Patrick says, he knows he made a mistake to volunteer for the war after the first few minutes of arriving in Vietnam—but he is there and he and his new buddies make the best of it, defending each other above all. The two books together give an accurate view of how young Americans were affected by the war in Vietnam, how they longed for peace, how they became disillusioned with the government and with those in authority. The author knows Boston well, so Molly's diary is helped by the sense of a real time and place. White has written other books for YAs about the Vietnam War that complement these diaries: The Road Home about a young nurse in Vietnam is still available in print. (Dear America Series). KLIATT Codes: JS—Recommended for junior and senior high school students. 2002, Scholastic, 188p. illus.,
— Claire Rosser
School Library Journal
Gr 6-9-Patrick turned down college scholarships to enlist in the Marines. In December 1967, just out of basic training, he finds himself in Vietnam, "on a combat base, out in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by mountains, and jungle-and- a whole lot of enemy soldiers." His journal is an intense and vivid record of the loneliness, confusion, comradeship, and suffering during the four months spent under constant assault by the North Vietnamese at Khe Sanh. Naive and provincial, the teen is transformed and matured by combat. He develops a close friendship with Bebop, a Detroit jazz musician, and begins to question whether he and his comrades are actually accomplishing anything. "Too much shelling, too many mortar attacks, too many casualties. Not enough food, water, and mail." Patrick writes that he doesn't want to make any more friends, "because you keep losing them all the time." In April, 1968, the men of Hill 881S are sent to a "safe" base at Quang Tri. There, in an ironic twist of fate, Patrick is badly injured, and Bebop is killed in a rocket attack. Based on extensive research, Journal is supplemented with photographs, a map, a historical note, and an epilogue. Readers will respond to this absorbing book's vivid descriptions, deft characterizations, and fast-paced action. A sensitive treatment of a painful episode in America's history.-Patricia B. McGee, Tennessee Technological University, Cookeville
Kirkus Reviews
"I pretty much use the same words over and over, because I don't know very many," soldier Patrick Seamus Flaherty tells Doc Jarvis midway through this entry in the Dear America series. And therein lies the problem: readers are subjected to the poor writing of an unreflective high school boy as he records-in a blue book his father had left over from his own journal-keeping days in WWII-his observations of his tour of duty in Vietnam and of the events surrounding the battle of Khe Sanh in 1968. The problem with this entry is the problem with the series in general and with the journal format in particular: journal-writing distances readers from the drama and immediacy of events. An inarticulate witness such as Patrick inspires little interest in reading his words. Battles are fought, friends die, and Patrick is wounded; yet the words don't carry any depth of feeling or insight. As the war grinds on, so do Patrick's words. Even in a pain killer-induced haze, he writes and writes, until he stops because "It hurts a lot." An epilogue continues Patrick's story to the present, encouraging readers to think of Patrick as a real person as he marries, joins the Boston Fire Department, has children and grandchildren, and rarely talks about his time in Vietnam. The best part is the Historical Note, which provides an overview of the war in Vietnam and may make the volume of use to report-writers. (Fiction. 9-14)

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780439148900
Publisher:
Scholastic, Inc.
Publication date:
06/28/2002
Series:
My Name Is America Series
Edition description:
1ST
Pages:
192
Product dimensions:
5.54(w) x 7.50(h) x 0.73(d)
Lexile:
900L (what's this?)
Age Range:
9 - 12 Years

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