I recently re-discovered this book having accidently stumbled across it in a forgotten corner of a cupboard at home which I was intending on clearing out that afternoon. After a minute of flicking through I shelved all plans of clearing out and rededicated my afternoon to reading this book from cover to cover and it's left me wondering how I could possibly forget about a story such as this, I was also suprised to see just 1 review on Amazon when it deserves so much more recognition.
The story is that of the author Ron Kovic. Ron Joined the US Marines as a Patriotic teenager during the vietnam war and left it as Broken and twisted man who sacrificed 3 quarters of his body for his country and ended up protesting against the very war that he ended up giving his body for.
This book is his account of his life before, during and after Vietnam. Each chapter of the book tells the story of a different period of his life (not in chronological order).
I'm not going to detail too much about the various chapters and events as you can find that out yourself by reading the book. What I feel I really need to relay is just how moving this book is. Here is someone who was young, strong, patriotic and felt like he could do anything he wished; only for it to be taken away from him in a war zone that he chose to be a part of but know desperatly wants out of and does so when shot and paralyszed from the mid-chest down.
What the author really hammers home hard (and I mean hard) is the sense of loss. The description of his Youth and the realization that he will never get his innocence back let alone the use of 3/4 of his body will be enough to move anyone to tears. The fact that he eventully finds a purpose for his life and that he can see his wound as a blessing in disguise is testament to the human spirit and is deeply moving.
This is book really is about the aftermath of a war and how it stays with the people who fight it.
"I wanted people to understand. I wanted to share with them as nakedly and openly and intimately as possible what I had gone through, what I had endured. I wanted them to know what it really meant to be in a war - to be shot and wounded, to be fighting for my life on the intensive care ward - not the myth we had grown up believing. I wanted people to know about the hospitals and enema room, about why I had become opposed to the war.
I was surprised to find out that this book has only two reviews.
Powerful and longlasting. Some chapters are actually tough to read. The descriptions of the enema room, the hospital in the Bronx, etc. really make you feel sick and revolted. It deals with so many subjects..that one would not expect to find looking at the cover: drugs, sex, politics, propaganda, etc..
I saw the movie 3times, but highly recommend the book.
This is a stirring, powerful book. It describes one mans idealistic dreams of America that become shattered when he goes to fight in Vietnam, becomes injured and is cast aside and treated poorly on his return. It is an account of his recovery and his new found resolve to fight back against the system that betrayed him. This is such a powerful read it is hard to give it full justice in a review, this is easily one of the best books about war that has ever been written. The author uses excellent literary techniques to make you feel his anger and frustration and this book is immensely easy to read, you will find yourself flying through it. Highly, highly recommended.
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I think this book is amazing and in my opinion should be compulsory reading. It tells the story of Mr Ron Kovic Vietnam veteran and his struggle to come to terms with the terrible injuries he sustained while fighting in the most unpopular war of the last centuary. Ron tells us about the brutality of first day at boot camp, where bullying seems to be the norm and the process of dehumanising the troops had began, the soldiers, who could be as young as 17 years old we're not properly trained for the demands of fighting a gorrila war in the jungle of Vietnam where knowing who the enemy were was difficult. The poor peasant population that the troops were sent to fight for did not know or probably cared what the war was about and could switch sides at any given time. This understandably made moral very low and when Ron accidentally shot and killed one of his own men and was ordered to open fire on friendly villagers he had had enough and wanted to go home. When he is shot in the right shoulder which collapsed his lung and shattered his spinal cord he is sent home after a brave fight for his life, he is parralyzed from the mid chest down. Ron describes the terrible filthy conditions in the Bronx hospital where young men with broken bodies and shattered minds were given care which was criminally unferfunded. However at the same time Ron tells us there seems to be plenty of money to fight the war. When he is discharged from hospital he is puzzled at how he is treated there is no hero's welcome home for Vietnam veterans only indifference and anger from anti war protesters who called them baby killers. The American public were not told the truth about this war and did not have a clue what these poor young men had been through. Understandably Ron is bitter no-one seems to understand or care what he has given up for his country. This in turn makes him very political speaking up for the rights of other young men who had fought in Vietnam. Many of these young men were not even compensated for thier injuries as post traumatic stress usually sets in after a year and the ex servicemen only had a year to apply for assistance therefore a lot of these brave young men became homeless beggars. Ron also became an important anti war campaigner who spoke very critically against the war and was beaten up by the police and spent a night in prison in his wheelchair. All this was by order of the American government who are very quick to point out the human rights abuses of other countries when it suits them. In more modern times Ron has criticized America's aggression against the middle East arguing that the attack on Iraq and the bombing of Afghanistan were cynical ploys to allow the American government to get thier greedy hands on what lies under the soil of both countries. It's as though nothing had been learned from the war in Vietnam as Afghanistan had the same sort of history of invasion and resistance as Vietnam had. It would be good to think the veterans of these conflicts were treated any better than Ron was, I would like to think so but I doubt it. Mr Ron Kovic is still going strong teaching the invaluable lesson that war is far too expensive in young lives to be taken so lightly. This is an amazing book written by a very brave man and I can't recommend it highly enough.