Taut memoir focusing on Wood's ``lifelong search for a life outside of killing grounds.'' Eddie Wood was everything it takes to make a serious soldier- -18, good with a gun, with a big, tough hard-drinking hero-daddy and a southern lineage going back a century, during which every generation of men bore arms. On the way to battle in WW II, however, he watched a Frenchman shave the head of a naked woman collaborator and glimpsed the face of a teenage girl who knew she would soon be raped. Sent into combat, he was badly wounded, skull and butt, in his first firefight. Here, after detailing these transformative experiences, Wood takes us over the classic American route that got him to the killing grounds, weaving old family letters, his own journals, and the sharp, clear images of his present-tense writing into an uneven but harrowing examination of pain. He doesn't flinch from the details, including his alienation from a mother who accepted war too well and a father transformed from hero to war profiteer. In plain and pointed language he gets right to the heart of the matter for him—how guns, violence and a perversely macho sexuality inescapably suffused his experience, creating the killing grounds of peace. Struggling as an unpublished writer, he slowly declined into divorce, inability to hold a job, and ever-increasing alienation—only to be reborn as a father, MIT graduate, and Washington hustler chasing power and sex down the Beltway in the 70's. All along, Wood keeps his uncompromised eye on the core of violence that he sees as tainting American life in general, and finally emerges as that rare bird, a fighting liberal. Reminiscent of Ron Kovic's Born on the Fourth of July: a fierce, loving, brooding, sometimes awkward book that deals with difficult, unpopular themes head-on.
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