A powerful compilation of poems on the continuing costs of a 50-year-old conflict.



A Vietnam veteran’s poetic reflections on the war.

Berger, a professor emeritus at the University of Alabama, has written multiple books on public relations and leadership. In this volume, he provides readers with 34 original poems based on his experiences as a soldier in the Vietnam War. Decades after the conflict ended, he notes, many vets remain psychologically “trapped.” Berger’s own “living fragments” of memory continue to haunt him a half century later, he says, “each a small piece of an unfinished mosaic in a gallery in my mind.” Writing poetry helped him stitch together these fragments, and ultimately helped him to “come home” mentally, long after he’d returned physically. The collection opens with a poem detailing Berger’s work as a “Next-of-Kin” editor in the Army, where he wrote hundreds of letters informing families of their loved ones’ deaths. Here, in his characteristically unfiltered style, Berger describes his own inadequacies writing “golden glorifications” of the sacrifices made by lost soldiers, whose families he knows will soon be trapped in “the straitjacket of emotional grief.” Overall, the works here are raw and often poignant. Although many poems reflect the author’s own psychological state (such as “Five Seasons for Soldiers,” in which memories of the war “loop endlessly” and “time runs forward, back”), others evoke other perspectives. “Orange Rain,” for instance, tells the story of the American and Vietnamese lives destroyed by Agent Orange, whose toxicity was “a shared secret” between the military and the corporate “chemical boys,” while another disturbing poem, “Girl Selling Her Fruit,” tells of a pubescent Vietnamese girl selling fruit, and sex, to American soldiers, suggesting that her “performance today…ensures a tomorrow.” The verses are accompanied by 24 pieces of original art submitted by members of the Providence Art Club in Rhode Island; they range from oil paintings to collages to digital illustrations. With varying degrees of effectiveness, and despite a few amateurish misses, the art effectively reflects the main themes of Berger’s poetry: the brutality of war and its psychological tolls, as well as the fragility of human life.

A powerful compilation of poems on the continuing costs of a 50-year-old conflict.

Pub Date: April 14, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-9855048-1-6

Page Count: 92

Publisher: WordWorthyPress

Review Posted Online: Oct. 26, 2020

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A well-documented and enlightened portrait of Eleanor Roosevelt for our times.

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A comprehensive exploration of one of the most influential women of the last century.

The accomplishments of Eleanor Roosevelt (1884-1962) were widespread and substantial, and her trailblazing actions in support of social justice and global peace resonate powerfully in our current moment. Her remarkable life has been extensively documented in a host of acclaimed biographies, including Blanche Wiesen Cook’s excellent three-volume life. Eleanor was also a highly prolific writer in her own right; through memoirs, essays, and letters, she continuously documented experiences and advancing ideas. In the most expansive one-volume portrait to date, Michaelis offers a fresh perspective on some well-worn territory—e.g., Eleanor’s unconventional marriage to Franklin and her progressively charged relationships with men and women, including her intimacy with newspaper reporter Lorena Hickok. The author paints a compelling portrait of Eleanor’s life as an evolving journey of transformation, lingering on the significant episodes to shed nuance on her circumstances and the players involved. Eleanor’s privileged yet dysfunctional childhood was marked by the erratic behavior and early deaths of her flighty, alcoholic father and socially absorbed mother, and she was left to shuttle among equally neglectful relatives. During her young adulthood, her instinctual need to be useful and do good work attracted the attention of notable mentors, each serving to boost her confidence and fine-tune her political and social convictions, shaping her expanding consciousness. As in his acclaimed biography of Charles Schulz, Michaelis displays his nimble storytelling skills, smoothly tracking Eleanor’s ascension from wife and mother to her powerfully influential and controversial role as first lady and continued leadership and activist efforts beyond. Throughout, the author lucidly illuminates the essence of her thinking and objectives. “As Eleanor’s activism evolved,” writes Michaelis, “she did not see herself reaching to solve social problems so much as engaging with individuals to unravel discontinuities between the old order and modernity.”

A well-documented and enlightened portrait of Eleanor Roosevelt for our times.

Pub Date: Oct. 6, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4391-9201-6

Page Count: 704

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Aug. 18, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2020

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A Churchill-ian view of native history—Ward, that is, not Winston—its facts filtered through a dense screen of ideology.


Custer died for your sins. And so, this book would seem to suggest, did every other native victim of colonialism.

Inducing guilt in non-native readers would seem to be the guiding idea behind Dunbar-Ortiz’s (Emerita, Ethnic Studies/California State Univ., Hayward; Blood on the Border: A Memoir of the Contra War, 2005, etc.) survey, which is hardly a new strategy. Indeed, the author says little that hasn’t been said before, but she packs a trove of ideological assumptions into nearly every page. For one thing, while “Indian” isn’t bad, since “[i]ndigenous individuals and peoples in North America on the whole do not consider ‘Indian’ a slur,” “American” is due to the fact that it’s “blatantly imperialistic.” Just so, indigenous peoples were overwhelmed by a “colonialist settler-state” (the very language broadly applied to Israelis vis-à-vis the Palestinians today) and then “displaced to fragmented reservations and economically decimated”—after, that is, having been forced to live in “concentration camps.” Were he around today, Vine Deloria Jr., the always-indignant champion of bias-puncturing in defense of native history, would disavow such tidily packaged, ready-made, reflexive language. As it is, the readers who are likely to come to this book—undergraduates, mostly, in survey courses—probably won’t question Dunbar-Ortiz’s inaccurate assertion that the military phrase “in country” derives from the military phrase “Indian country” or her insistence that all Spanish people in the New World were “gold-obsessed.” Furthermore, most readers won’t likely know that some Ancestral Pueblo (for whom Dunbar-Ortiz uses the long-abandoned term “Anasazi”) sites show evidence of cannibalism and torture, which in turn points to the inconvenient fact that North America wasn’t entirely an Eden before the arrival of Europe.

A Churchill-ian view of native history—Ward, that is, not Winston—its facts filtered through a dense screen of ideology.

Pub Date: Sept. 16, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-8070-0040-3

Page Count: 296

Publisher: Beacon Press

Review Posted Online: Aug. 18, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2014

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