An angry yet ultimately moving journal of the quest for closure many Vietnam vets may never find.

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BLACK VIRGIN MOUNTAIN

A RETURN TO VIETNAM

Writing of his return to Vietnam almost three decades after he went to war and came home “pissed off and ground down by a bottomless grief I could not right then begin to express,” novelist Heinemann still vents rage and melancholia.

He’s not some old soldier trying to recapture the good old days, insists the National Book Award winner (Paco’s Story, 1986, etc.). Images of torn, shattered, and crisp-burnt corpses resurface along with the constant prod of the eternal question: for what? For roughly the first half, Heinemann can muster only tortured placeholders for an answer: generally, variations on the theme of war as the ultimate obscenity. (A close reading of his text should, incidentally, dissuade anyone who professed to believe that John Kerry single-handedly cobbled up stories of American atrocities in Vietnam.) Heinemann’s memories are vivid, almost brutally etched, particularly with respect to ordinary soldiers’ behavior as the wrong-headedness of the whole deal starts to sink in. Troops discovered, for example, that they had commonly arrived at the conclusion that the best way to expose anyone who gave a stupid order, from President Johnson or General Westmoreland on down to the “lifers” (career officers) on the front lines, was to follow it to the letter. Heinemann’s trip back in 1990 with a company of writers immediately began to prompt purgative effects—along with the horrific memories. He began a kind of “brothers in arms” reconstruction of what the Viet Cong were all about, how they moved in the night and through the dreaded Cu Chi tunnels. On a subsequent trip he was impelled to ascend Black Virgin Mountain (Nui Ba Den), which gave him a view of nearly the entire area in which his war year was spent. On the summit, he realized that he felt oddly but undeniably at home.

An angry yet ultimately moving journal of the quest for closure many Vietnam vets may never find.

Pub Date: April 19, 2005

ISBN: 0-385-51221-X

Page Count: 196

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2005

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Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis...

THE ELEMENTS OF STYLE

50TH ANNIVERSARY EDITION

Privately published by Strunk of Cornell in 1918 and revised by his student E. B. White in 1959, that "little book" is back again with more White updatings.

Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis (whoops — "A bankrupt expression") a unique guide (which means "without like or equal").

Pub Date: May 15, 1972

ISBN: 0205632645

Page Count: 105

Publisher: Macmillan

Review Posted Online: Oct. 28, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1972

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IN MY PLACE

From the national correspondent for PBS's MacNeil-Lehrer Newshour: a moving memoir of her youth in the Deep South and her role in desegregating the Univ. of Georgia. The eldest daughter of an army chaplain, Hunter-Gault was born in what she calls the ``first of many places that I would call `my place' ''—the small village of Due West, tucked away in a remote little corner of South Carolina. While her father served in Korea, Hunter-Gault and her mother moved first to Covington, Georgia, and then to Atlanta. In ``L.A.'' (lovely Atlanta), surrounded by her loving family and a close-knit black community, the author enjoyed a happy childhood participating in activities at church and at school, where her intellectual and leadership abilities soon were noticed by both faculty and peers. In high school, Hunter-Gault found herself studying the ``comic-strip character Brenda Starr as I might have studied a journalism textbook, had there been one.'' Determined to be a journalist, she applied to several colleges—all outside of Georgia, for ``to discourage the possibility that a black student would even think of applying to one of those white schools, the state provided money for black students'' to study out of state. Accepted at Michigan's Wayne State, the author was encouraged by local civil-rights leaders to apply, along with another classmate, to the Univ. of Georgia as well. Her application became a test of changing racial attitudes, as well as of the growing strength of the civil-rights movement in the South, and Gault became a national figure as she braved an onslaught of hostilities and harassment to become the first black woman to attend the university. A remarkably generous, fair-minded account of overcoming some of the biggest, and most intractable, obstacles ever deployed by southern racists. (Photographs—not seen.)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 1992

ISBN: 0-374-17563-2

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1992

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