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The Magical Stranger: A Son's Journey into His Father's Life
     

The Magical Stranger: A Son's Journey into His Father's Life

3.0 1
by Stephen Rodrick
 

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The Magical Stranger is a moving story of love and sacrifice, fathers and sons, heroism and duty, soldiers and the families they leave behind.

On November 28, 1979, squadron commander and Navy pilot Peter Rodrick died when his plane crashed in the Indian Ocean, leaving behind a devastated wife, two daughters, and a 13-year-old son.

In this powerful,

Overview

The Magical Stranger is a moving story of love and sacrifice, fathers and sons, heroism and duty, soldiers and the families they leave behind.

On November 28, 1979, squadron commander and Navy pilot Peter Rodrick died when his plane crashed in the Indian Ocean, leaving behind a devastated wife, two daughters, and a 13-year-old son.

In this powerful, beautifully written book, journalist Stephen Rodrick explores the life and death of the man who indelibly shaped his life, even as he remained a mystery. Through adolescence and into adulthood, Stephen Rodrick struggled to fully grasp the reality of his father’s death and its permanence.

To better understand his father, Rodrick turned to members of his father’s former squadron, the "World-Famous Black Ravens." As he learns about his father, he uncovers the layers of these sailors’ lives: their loves, friendships, dreams, disappointments—and the consequences of their choices on those they leave behind. The journey doesn’t end until November 28, 2013, when Rodrick’s first son is born 34 years to the day after his father’s mishap.

A penetrating, thoughtful blend of memoir and reportage, The Magical Stranger is a moving reflection on the meaning of military service and the power of a father’s legacy.

Editorial Reviews

Ben Fountain
The Magical Stranger is one of the realest and best books I’ve read in the past several years.”
Tom Bissell
“Fascinating . . . . An exemplary piece of modern reportage.”
Judd Apatow
The Magical Stranger is the true story of a boy chasing a ghost and stumbling into manhood. It is heartbreaking and funny, broken and hopeful, often on the same page.”
Norman Ollestad
“Stephen Rodrick’s The Magical Stranger illuminates the innate ties between fathers and sons in a fresh and fascinating way. . . . Rodrick’s firsthand knowledge thoroughly transports the reader into the hearts and minds of U.S. servicemen and their families.”
Alison Buckholtz
“Stephen Rodrick finds words for what I thought was inexpressible: the private language of a military family that experiences the worst kind of loss and finally creates a path forward. There’s no more authentic account of a military family. Required reading for an America that is continually considering the cost of combat.”
Lily Burana
“Stephen Rodrick exhibits courage, Catch-22 comedic flair, and unfailing emotional grasp in telling this powerful and surprising story. Anyone who wants to understand the sacrifices made by military families should read this book.”
Robert Timberg
“Stephen Rodrick’s poignant tale blends memoir, reportage, and clean, crisp, unsentimental prose to produce a book that makes you think, even at times makes you laugh, but in the end tears your heart out. A truly fabulous book.”
Sean Wilsey
“How does Stephen Rodrick manage to produce writing that is raw, heartbreaking, and beautifully-controlled, all at once, and on that most difficult of all topics: fathers and sons? Find out for yourself—it’s time very well spent!”
Blake Bailey
“A wrenching, fascinating memoir, The Magical Stranger captures the elusive, sometimes crushing unease that haunts the lives of military families. It is written with the pace of a thriller and the emotional density of first-rate fiction.”
Danielle Trussoni
“This memoir of a son’s search to know his father is deeply moving, important and beautifully written. Rodrick has reminded us that the casualties of war remain long after the last mission is won.”
Kirkus
“A powerful debut. . . . Candid and affecting.”
Publishers Weekly
“An engaging and immersive look at the dynamics of military units and the dual lives servicemen and women lead. . . all viewed through a crisp journalistic lens that helps Rodrick separate myth from reality.”
Wil S. Hylton
“Stephen Rodrick is possibly the best prose stylist alive.”
The New York Times Book Review
“In this penetrating blend of memoir and reportage, Rodrick spends nearly two years with his father’s former squadron, seeking a better understanding of the man he knew all too briefly.”
Kirkus Reviews
Journalist Rodrick's powerful debut chronicles the long, difficult process of coming to terms with the untimely death of his father, a Navy pilot. Black Ravens squadron commander Peter Rodrick was just 36 in 1979, when his airplane went down in the Indian Ocean. After his son turned the same age in 2002, Stephen's then-wife told him that he wouldn't be "a proper father" until he "made peace" with his dad. The younger Rodrick tried, writing an article about Navy pilots on the Kitty Hawk, his father's last ship, but Pete remained the enigmatic "magical stranger" of his childhood. The peacemaking task didn't begin in earnest until Stephen received an invitation to a ceremony involving Pete's old squadron in 2009. Getting to know the Black Ravens' newly commissioned commander, James Hunter Ware III, he realized, would help him better understand his father. The resulting narrative weaves between Rodrick's memories of a brilliant, mysterious father and his account of Ware's personal and professional trials in the same job. Peter Rodrick was a dedicated officer and fearless "cowboy" pilot, but he left the task of guiding his wayward son to a beleaguered wife against whom Stephen battled throughout his childhood and adolescence. By contrast, Ware struggled with his competing allegiances to the Navy and a wife who had sacrificed everything for him. Through his examination of both men's lives, the author came to accept his father and understand that the accident was not the result of Pete's "sin" of reckless bravado. Finding closure with his father's death, he could finally acknowledge the quietly heroic role of his mother. It was ultimately she, he concludes, who made him "worthy" of the Rodrick name. Candid and affecting.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780062004772
Publisher:
HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
06/10/2014
Edition description:
Reprint
Pages:
416
Product dimensions:
5.30(w) x 7.90(h) x 1.00(d)

What People are Saying About This

Judd Apatow

The Magical Stranger is the true story of a boy chasing a ghost and stumbling into manhood. It is heartbreaking and funny, broken and hopeful, often on the same page.”

Meet the Author

Stephen Rodrick is a contributing writer at The New York Times Magazine and also a contributing editor at Men’s Journal. His writing has been anthologized in The Best American Sports Writing, The Best American Crime Reporting, and The Best American Political Writing. He lives in Los Angeles.

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The Magical Stranger: A Son's Journey Into His Father's Life 3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago