A memoir of a tumultuous childhood and military service in Vietnam.
This personal remembrance is the result of happenstance: invited to speak at a U.S. Navy ball, debut author Rosato was suddenly informed that he had been promoted to keynote speaker (baseball legend Tommy Lasorda cancelled at the last minute). Rosato delivered a mostly extemporaneous speech, recounting his experiences in the Navy, which resonated deeply with many in the audience. Rosato turned that 25-minute address into a recollection that mostly focuses on his second decade of life. The author had a colorful and often challenging childhood in New York City during the 1960s. His parents weren’t well-suited for marriage or parenthood—both were largely absent, both physically and emotionally, during his formative years. Rosato eventually found his wayward father and helped the police arrest him for withholding child support. The father was apparently unrepentant, and the author had to repeat this grim process a second time. Fortunately, Rosato’s Grandma Rose raised him and his brothers lovingly and reliably. Rosato was largely uninterested in his school studies but was compelled by a teacher to take an extracurricular course in traffic management, which turned out to be the basis for his career. The author eventually married and had a child, enlisted in the military, and served on a carrier in the Gulf of Tonkin. Rosato does a fine job vividly depicting an old New York now largely disappeared and the painful prejudice Vietnam veterans faced upon their return from war. Rosato had to conceal his honorable service abroad in order to find employment. The prose is informal, and the entire tale reads more like a series of anecdotes than a historical record, at times meandering but full of charm. The writing can sometimes be shaky: “Why my father came home to my mother after the war and had three children of his own when he knew she wasn’t faithful to him still rests as clandestine.” This deeply personal remembrance, especially the accounts of internal family squabbles, is unlikely to grip those who don’t know Rosato, but it remains a thoughtful rendering.
A well-considered autobiography; however, likely too personal to have universal appeal.