Soldiers Once: My Brother and the Lost Dreams of America's Veterans

Soldiers Once: My Brother and the Lost Dreams of America's Veterans

by Catherine Whitney
     
 

View All Available Formats & Editions

From a bestselling author, the poignant story of her Vietnam veteran brother, whose circumstances in death echo the dismal condition of countless veteransSee more details below

Overview

From a bestselling author, the poignant story of her Vietnam veteran brother, whose circumstances in death echo the dismal condition of countless veterans

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

Veteran ghostwriter and coauthor Whitney (Where Have All the Leaders Gone?) now writes in her own voice about her brother Jim Schuler, a vet who served three tours in Vietnam and died penniless and alone in 2001 at age 53. Whitney also offers her take on many issues-such as PTSD, veterans' benefits and homelessness- affecting American veterans of wars from WWI to Iraq and Afghanistan. Whitney presents little that is new on these subjects. The parts of the book dealing with her brother and family are more fully realized, although much of that narrative, including Jim Schuler's service in Vietnam and his postwar army career, is based mostly on speculation since he had little contact with his estranged family. Whitney herself was adamantly against the Vietnam War, something her troubled brother never forgot or forgave. Whitney thus only partially succeeds in her "mission" to "find" her brother, and her account fails to meet the standard of the one invoked in the title, Gen. Hal Moore and Joe Galloway's classic We Were Soldiers Once... and Young. 8 pages of b&w photos. (May)

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Kirkus Reviews
Prolific ghostwriter Whitney takes her veteran brother's untimely death-alone at age 53 with just $62 in his bank account-as a starting point for this meditation on what it means to be a veteran in America. The nation's ambivalence toward its veterans, the author suggests, is reflected in the contrast between words and deeds, between the ubiquity of yellow "support our troops" magnets on one hand and the number of veterans without adequate institutional support on the other. Whitney feels ambivalent about her estrangement from her brother, who served three tours in Vietnam as a combat engineer while she attended antiwar rallies stateside. "His resentment survived the decades," she writes. "I was his Jane Fonda, the one who could never be forgiven." Their personal conflict turned ugly nearly a decade after the war ended, and Jim disappeared to suffer his demons in solitude. Whitney persuasively argues that her brother's fate is common among veterans of all ages. All but forgotten today, World War I veterans who had gathered in a tent city to shame the Hoover administration into raising their benefits were fired upon by troops ordered to the scene by Douglas MacArthur, who had convinced the president that the agitators were communists. Even the Greatest Generation vets, held up as models for the supposedly selfish Boomers of the Vietnam era, are not immune to the psychologically devastating effects of war. Whitney recounts numerous stories of retirees revisiting the horrors of long-ago battles with delayed posttraumatic stress disorder. More recently, veterans have had to fight an entrenched bureaucracy and partisan politicians to have their service-connected disabilities even recognized,let alone attended to. Though Whitney's goal-to redress a wrong she feels she participated in against her brother and other veterans-is admirable, she ultimately becomes just another voice of complaint against a notoriously unjust system. She scolds but doesn't offer a vision of how the system must change. A poignant memoir and consciousness-raiser, but not the clarion call that our veterans require. Author tour to New York and Washington, D.C.
From the Publisher
Kirkus Reviews, 4/15/09
Whitney persuasively argues that her brother’s fate is common among veterans of all ages…Whitney’s goal—to redress a wrong she feels she participated in against her brother and other veterans—is admirable...A poignant memoir and consciousness-raiser.”

Publishers Weekly, 3/30/09
“[Whitney] offers her take on many issues—such as PTSD, veterans' benefits and homelessness—affecting American veterans of wars from WWI to Iraq and Afghanistan.”

BookPage, May 2009
“[Whitney] reflects on the costs of war for a new generation of soldiers sent to fight wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Soldiers Once is part memoir, part meditation and a thoughtful look at the impact of war.”

Military Heritage, 8/09
“A poignant memoir.”

Roanoke Times, 5/24/09
“A remarkably frank account…Should resonate with anyone who has served or had family who served…Soldiers Once is like reveille; it is intended to make us all roll out of our comfortable cots and attend to our duty."

WNTI Radio Online
“[A] tragic and heart-breaking story.”

Army Times, Marine Corp Times, Navy Time, and Air Force Times, 6/29/09
“A heartfelt history of the treatment of America’s veterans…Poignant.”

ForeWord, July/Aug 2009
“Whitney writes with a simple elegance that compares with Ron Kovic’s iconic Born on the Fourth of July…She vividly shows how her brother was a victim, along with thousands of other vets who have died or who are living lives of slow death.”

Augusta Metro Spirit, 7/29/09
“A stunning portrait of the life of a soldier…The author allows readers to empathize with the events of a singular person when considering the issues facing a multitude of people…A poignant personal story that speaks to greater issues facing today's administration as well as tomorrow’s.”

Veterans Reporter (Southern Nevada Edition), September issue “[A] strong, poignant read.”

Gallup Independent, NM. 11/29/2009
“Why is it that dads and granddads are always so hard to buy for? If that’s your dad or grandpa, then here’s an easy gift.”

Read More

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780786748013
Publisher:
Da Capo Press
Publication date:
05/12/2009
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
240
Sales rank:
1,205,643
File size:
1 MB

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Write a Review

and post it to your social network

     

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews >