- Shopping Bag ( 0 items )
From Barnes & NobleThe Barnes & Noble Review
Former Nebraska governor and senator (and onetime presidential candidate) Bob Kerrey recounts the story of his early life, including his childhood in Lincoln, Nebraska, his training as one of the original Navy SEALs, his brief (and tragic) combat experiences in Vietnam, and his recovery after a serious combat injury. In many ways, this is a "tale of two wars," as Kerrey also relates his father's and uncle's combat experiences in World War II. His father's deathbed request that his son find out what happened to his brother (reported missing in the Philippines) sets the memoir in motion.
Kerrey's writing on Vietnam is compelling; he feels that the U.S. never really had a chance to win because of general confusion about why the troops were there in the first place, and he himself felt unprepared and clueless about his own purpose there. Kerrey also feels that the U.S. simply underestimated the will of the North Vietnamese and "focused too much on stopping Communism and too little on building a free and independent nation."
Kerrey's general disillusionment is graphically portrayed by two incidents: the now-infamous mission at Thanh Phong (where unarmed civilians were, Kerrey claims, caught in the crossfire during a retreat), and his own maiming at Nha Trang (his right leg was, ultimately, amputated below the knee). As Kerry later puts it: "My fifty plus days in Vietnam seemed to be at best a waste of time."
Kerrey's recounting of his painful rehabilitation in a Philadelphia naval hospital, as he adjusts to wearing his new artificial limb, brings home the horrors of war in a blunt and chilling way. The fact that he would go on to serve his country in other ways is a moving testament to the civic awareness and responsibility that appears to be a Kerrey family trait. (Nicholas Sinisi)
Nicholas Sinisi is the Barnes & Noble.com Nonfiction editor.