Oh, Johnny

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"A talented athlete, Johnny Wrigley firmly believes that someday he will play major league baseball. But on the way to his dreams, Johnny finds his life unexpectedly taking a detour. In April 1944, Johnny is a newly minted marine on a troop train heading west for California, where he will be shipped overseas to fight in the Pacific Theater." "At a brief stop in Wichita, Johnny gets off the train and falls in love. She's giving apples and cigarettes to the marines, and she is the most beautiful girl Johnny has ever seen. In a storeroom at the
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Oh, Johnny: A Novel

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Overview

"A talented athlete, Johnny Wrigley firmly believes that someday he will play major league baseball. But on the way to his dreams, Johnny finds his life unexpectedly taking a detour. In April 1944, Johnny is a newly minted marine on a troop train heading west for California, where he will be shipped overseas to fight in the Pacific Theater." "At a brief stop in Wichita, Johnny gets off the train and falls in love. She's giving apples and cigarettes to the marines, and she is the most beautiful girl Johnny has ever seen. In a storeroom at the station, they share an intimacy that Johnny will treasure for the next two years at war - and beyond." "As a flamethrower operator on the suicide squad in Peleliu, Johnny sees the worst of battle. Scores of his fellow soldiers are killed around him, but memories of Betsy Luck (the private name Johnny has given his Kansas love) keep him safe. Yet nothing prepares Johnny for the combat in Okinawa - and the terrible events that will haunt him forever." "Two years later, Johnny is back in Wichita, searching for the girl he wants to marry. But fate has different plans for Johnny, his long-dreamed-of baseball career, and the girl whose memory helped him survive." Full of rich and vivid descriptions of Johnny's experiences both as a marine and as a ballplayer, Oh, Johnny is a compelling, emotionally complex story of one man's remarkable coming-of-age - and Jim Lehrer at his best.
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

PBS NewsHour anchor Lehrer mixes baseball, WWII and romance in his 19th novel to mostly pleasant results. Even though Johnny Wrigley, from smalltown Lafayette, Md., is being scouted by the Detroit Tigers, he enlists in the Marines in April 1944 to "kill Japs for America." En route to deployment, Johnny meets Betsy, a striking but naïvely religious doughnut girl, falls instantly in love and seduces her. He vows he'll return for her, a quixotic obsession that sustains him through grittily rendered combat scenes in the Pacific. At the war's end, Johnny returns with marriage on his mind. But Betsy can't be found, and Johnny ends up in Baltimore with a menial bus company job and his big league dreams rekindled. But those, like his romantic fantasy, remain out of reach. Though Johnny's obsessive love for Betsy is a bit hard to swallow, his troubled postwar reintegration is nicely handled and gives readers insight into a Greatest Generation leatherneck. (Mar.)

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Kirkus Reviews
A young ex-Marine pursues two ideals, a major-league baseball career and a young woman he knows only as Betsy, in Lehrer's bittersweet 19th novel (Mack to the Rescue, 2008, etc.). It's 1944, and Johnny Wrigley is 17 and green as grass when the troop transport taking him from Baltimore to California stops off in Wichita, Kan. Though the stop lasts barely half an hour, it's long enough for Johnny to lose his virginity with Betsy, one of the girls who came to meet the train with apples and smokes for the recruits. Johnny can see that Betsy is religious in an oddly directive way he's never encountered before. But he also knows from the first that he loves her in a way he'll never love anyone else, and in a series of letters he composes but never writes down, he pledges his love and vows that he'll return. That turns out to be a tall order. First Johnny has to survive brutal combat on the island of Peleliu, where he's been trained to use a flamethrower-an assignment that turns him into a target and gives him a worm's-eye view of horrific casualties, including those he inflicts himself. Then, on his return stateside, he has to search fruitlessly through Wichita and environs for Betsy before giving up and returning home to Lafayette, Md. Eagerly embraced by his fond mother and the kid sister of a friend who was killed in Europe, Johnny reverts to his original dream: becoming a baseball star in the mold of his idol, Brooklyn Dodgers center fielder Pete Reiser. This dream also goes bad, leaving Johnny with nothing but a menial job and his hopes of returning to both baseball and Betsy. Eventually his dreams come true, but not quite in the way he expected. The understated tone of this Everyman'sCitizen Kane perfectly suits Lehrer's gifts, as he eschews his usual satiric stance for a warmhearted evocation of the road not taken.
From the Publisher
“A warmhearted evocation of the road not taken.”—Kirkus Reviews
 
“[Oh, Johnny] bears many Lehrer trademarks. Relaxed storytelling, an eye for detail and his recurring themes of battles, bus rides and baseball.”—USA Today
 
“Lehrer mixes baseball, WWII and romance . . . [Oh, Johnny] gives readers insight into a Greatest Generation leatherneck.”—Publishers Weekly
 
“A profoundly sad and beautiful story.”—Booklist
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781400067626
  • Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 3/24/2009
  • Pages: 240
  • Product dimensions: 5.80 (w) x 8.30 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

Jim Lehrer
Oh, Johnny is Jim Lehrer’s nineteenth novel. He is also the author of two memoirs and three plays and is the executive editor and anchor of The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer on PBS. He and his novelist wife, Kate, have three daughters.

From the Hardcover edition.

Biography

Jim Lehrer didn't always aspire to be a writer -- when he was 16, he wanted to play for the Brooklyn Dodgers. Since he wasn't a very good baseball player, he turned to sports writing, then writing in general. As a member of what he's called "the Hemingway generation," he decided to support himself as a newspaper writer until he could make a living as a novelist.

After graduating from the University of Missouri with a degree in journalism, Lehrer served for three years in the U.S. Marine Corps, then began his career as a newspaper reporter, columnist and editor in Dallas. His first novel, about a band of Mexican soldiers re-taking the Alamo, was published in 1966 and made into a movie. Lehrer quit his newspaper job in order to write more books, but was lured back into reporting after he accepted a part-time consulting job at the Dallas public television station. He was eventually made host and editor of a nightly news program at the station.

Lehrer then moved to Washington, D.C., where he worked as public affairs coordinator for PBS and as a correspondent for the National Public Affairs Center for Television (NPACT). At NPACT, Lehrer teamed up with Robert MacNeil to provide live coverage of the Senate Watergate hearings, broadcast on PBS. It was the beginning of a partnership that would last more than 20 years, as Lehrer and MacNeil co-hosted The MacNeil/Lehrer Report (originally The Robert MacNeil Report) from 1976 to 1983, and The MacNeil/Lehrer NewsHour from 1983 to 1995. In 1995, MacNeil left the show, but Lehrer soldiered on as solo anchor and executive editor of The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer.

When he wasn't busy hosting the country's first hour-long news program, Lehrer wrote and published books, including a series of mystery novels featuring his fictional lieutenant governor, One-Eyed Mack, and a political satire, The Last Debate. Lehrer surprised critics and won new readers with his breakout success, White Widow, the "tender and tragic" (Washington Post) tale of a small-town Texas bus driver. He followed it with the bestselling Purple Dots, a "high-spirited Beltway romp" (The New York Times Book Review), and The Special Prisoner, about a WWII bomber pilot whose brutal experiences in a Japanese P.O.W. camp come back to haunt him 50 years later. His recent novel No Certain Rest recounts the quest of a U.S. Parks Department archaeologist to solve a murder committed during the Civil War.

Across this wide range of subjects, Lehrer is known for his careful plotting and even more careful research. Clearly, this is a man who cares about good stories -- but which is more important to him, journalism or fiction? Lehrer once admitted that he's known as "the TV guy who also writes books. Someday, maybe it will go the other way and I'll be the novelist who also does television."

Good To Know

During the last four presidential elections, Lehrer has served as a moderator for nine debates, including all three of the presidential candidates' debates in 2000. He also hosted the Emmy Award-nominated program "Debating Our Destiny: Forty Years of Presidential Debates."

Lehrer lives in Washington, D.C., with his wife, novelist Kate Lehrer. The two also have an 18th-century farmhouse close to the Antietam battle site. Visits to the site helped inspire Lehrer's thirteenth novel, No Certain Rest.

Robert MacNeil, for many years the co-host with Jim Lehrer of PBS's MacNeil/Lehrer NewsHour, is also a novelist. His books include Burden of Desire, The Voyage and Breaking News.

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    1. Also Known As:
      James Lehrer
    2. Hometown:
      Washington, D.C.
    1. Date of Birth:
      May 19, 1934
    2. Place of Birth:
      Wichita, Kansas
    1. Education:
      A.A., Victoria College; B.J., University of Missouri, 1956

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Sort by: Showing 1 – 4 of 3 Customer Reviews
  • Posted July 28, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Oh, Johnny

    Jim Lehrer surprised me. As a veteran of Vietnam I, up unto the time of reading Oh, Johnny, had not read any works that fit into the category that Mr. Lehrer has chosen to address. His insight and understanding of the mental and conflicting moral state of some post war veterans impressed me. I say kudos Mr. Lehrer...keep em coming!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 6, 2009

    I never received the book.

    I ordered this book, but they sent another one . I sent it back, and asked for the one that I had ordered, but they just refunded my money, so I never got the book.

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 30, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted January 5, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

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