My River Home: A Journey from the Gulf War to the Gulf of Mexico

Overview

During the course of the war in Iraq, many veterans have become increasingly disillusioned, and increasingly vocal. Many began seeing the war as damaging for the country, and especially for the men and women fighting overseas. In My River Home, Marcus Eriksen, a veteran of the Gulf War, charts his personal shift from proud Marine to self-destructive veteran to engaged activist protesting the injustices of the Iraq War with Veterans for Peace. Eriksen made sense of this transition only after a fascinating ...
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My River Home: A Journey from the Gulf War to the Gulf of Mexico

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Overview

During the course of the war in Iraq, many veterans have become increasingly disillusioned, and increasingly vocal. Many began seeing the war as damaging for the country, and especially for the men and women fighting overseas. In My River Home, Marcus Eriksen, a veteran of the Gulf War, charts his personal shift from proud Marine to self-destructive veteran to engaged activist protesting the injustices of the Iraq War with Veterans for Peace. Eriksen made sense of this transition only after a fascinating adventure traveling through the heart of America, down the entire length of the great Mississippi River on a homemade raft.
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
Like Mark Twain's Huckleberry Finn, Eriksen takes us on an extraordinary journey; home from war, chaos, and sorrow, down the mighty Mississippi. . . . A beautiful story of healing, hope, faith, and renewal. Eriksen searches to find meaning in all that has been lost and all that has been wasted.—Ron Kovic, author of Born on the Fourth of July

"His is a complex, subtle portrait of what makes the warrior spirit-whether fighting for his country abroad or fighting for peace at home . . . Marcus Eriksen, a hero indeed, speaks for soldiers everywhere when he writes of the need for peace."—Susan Larson, New Orleans Times-Picayune

"A Homeric epic that starts at the top of the United States, plummets to the depths of the Gulf War, and probes the soul of a man."—John Perkins, author of Confessions of an Economic Hit Man

"Marcus Eriksen is a natural writer. His memoir cuts to the core of the great dilemma of what it means to be an American man."—Gerald Nicosia, author of Home to War

"All politicians considering war as a policy tool—especially those with no personal military experience—should read this book, and take special note of Marcus Eriksen's epiphany as he wandered with his brother amongst Iraqi corpses during the Gulf War. ‘I'm glad it wasn't us,’ says his brother. Eriksen, with the added perspective of the current Iraq War, finds devastating precision for his response: ‘But it was.’ The futility and tragedy of war is made agonizingly clear by the inspirational journeys recounted with searing elegance in My River Home."—Peter Laufer, author of Mission Rejected: U. S. Soldiers Say No to Iraq

"Eriksen is honest and reflective about the way his character has been formed . . . a complex, subtle portrait of what makes the warrior spirit—whether fighting for his country abroad or fighting for peace at home. So when he talks about what we owe our servicemen—our time and attention, first of all—it has the ring of conviction and wisdom . . . Marcus Eriksen, a hero indeed, speaks for soldiers everywhere when he writes of the need for peace."—Times-Picayune (New Orleans)

Publishers Weekly

The dream, shared with a fellow grunt on long night watches during the Gulf War, was to raft more than 2,000 miles, from the headwaters of the Mississippi River to the Gulf of Mexico. Fantasizing about the journey got Eriksen through days of scorching sun, toxic oil fires, dysentery and the stench of Iraqi soldiers' rotting bodies. Thirteen years later, the once gung-ho marine reservist had become a committed antiwar activist and set out from central Minnesota on a ramshackle vessel constructed of 232 empty two-liter soda bottles, a Ford Mustang driver's seat and a paddle wheel powered by a 10-speed bicycle. Eriksen's vivid vignettes from his experience in Kuwait conjure the gritty realities of war with a mix of affection for his fellow soldiers and bitterness about a conflict that "no one fought for democracy. No one fought for human rights. And no one fought for the safety of America." That candid anger is tempered by the first-time author's often-humorous accounts of his misadventures on the river, including his discovery that it was impossible to float his precarious raft through the swampy first miles of the Mississippi; he used a canoe for the first leg instead. (Apr.)

Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
The journal of a grueling, risk-filled rafting trip down the Mississippi River, interspersed with the author's still-vivid memories of his experience as a young marine in the Gulf War. Eriksen, now an antiwar activist, had promised himself while in Kuwait in 1991 that he would make this river trip through the heart of America, and more than a decade later he makes good on that promise, partly to reconnect with his country and partly, in his words, to find himself. The Bottle Rocket, his homemade pontoon raft supported by plastic soda bottles and equipped with a pedal-powered paddle wheel, is too ungainly for the shallow waters of the northernmost part of the river, which he traverses in a canoe in August, but it serves as his home from September 2003 to January 2004. In October, he is joined by his ex-fiancee Jenna, who shares his hardships and both annoys and assists him. Life aboard a raft, with days spent dodging barges and floating trees and other obstacles, and nights usually spent outdoors in a sleeping bag, is rough, but people they meet along the way are often remarkably helpful, providing hot meals, showers and warm, dry beds. Woven into Eriksen's account of this journey are his recollections of his gung-ho boyhood, his training as a marine and most of all his months in Kuwait, where the erstwhile warrior becomes a disillusioned, bored looter in a filthy, stinking, death-filled desert, outraged to find the enemy equipped with American arms. During the Iraq war, Eriksen, a member of Veterans for Peace, demonstrates from coast to coast against the rising death toll. What has been a gripping journal-cum-memoir becomes a tirade against the administration, its advisors andcorporations that profit from war. Patriotic young Americans today, he says, are dying "not for freedom, democracy, or protection of the homeland, but for the profit and political survival of a powerful few."An uneven document, at times rich in the details of one man's psyche and life in Middle America, at other times a raging op-ed piece.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780807072769
  • Publisher: Beacon
  • Publication date: 9/28/2008
  • Edition description: None
  • Pages: 255
  • Product dimensions: 5.30 (w) x 8.30 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Meet the Author

Marcus Eriksen is the education adviser for the Algalita Marine Research Foundation, as well as an active member of Veterans for Peace. He lives in Los Angeles, California.

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Table of Contents


Introduction ix
1 Homeward Bound 1
2 Warrior's Enchantment 11
3 Traveler 25
4 A Novice in Unfamiliar Territory 35
5 Men of STA Platoon 3/23 49
6 Fast Water, Submerged Rocks, and Land Mines 63
7 The Rat King 83
8 Chaos 101
9 River Rat 115
10 Sand and Water 131
11 Illusions of Home 151
12 Wisdom before Me 167
13 Waves of Deception 179
14 Turbulent America 193
15 Veterans in Our Mist 213
16 Going for Blue 225 Afterword 237 Acknowledgments 255
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Sort by: Showing all of 3 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 18, 2008

    Amazing Journey

    Eriksen wrote an amazing book about his amazing journey/life. Humorous, thought-provoking, hopeful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 30, 2007

    Brilliant interweaving of parallel narratives

    I loved this book. Humor, whoring, introspection, adventure, and a personal reckoning with the state of the world and the prospect of free will. What's not to like? I am impressed with Eriksen's ability to so dexterously interweave the two narratives: his Gulf War experience and his Mississippi River trip. And at the end of that braid hangs a pearl. I'm not going to drop a spoiler here, but just say that the existential challenges Eriksen faced, every veteran of the Iraq war will face. I'm glad his book is here for them. I'm also glad his book was there to open the eyes of civilians like me who understand what the military-industrial complex is, but do not understand how it affects the lives of those who were an active part in it. Thanks Eriksen!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 6, 2011

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