The Conflict that was a War; In Vietnam and at Home

Open, honest, raw and readable.

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Nineteen Vietnam veterans share their recollections of in-country time in Vietnam and their re-entrance into American society.

The 19 contributors to the collection met as members of a PTSD therapy group in Modesto, Calif. They open with a preface which neatly and succinctly delineates two of the major themes in the lives of those who fought in Vietnam: guerilla warfare, along with the paranoid mindset it engendered, and the routine hostility veterans encountered upon their return to America, where instead of being greeted as heroes, they were shunned and, in some cases, literally spat on. The majority of the men were infantrymen, and as such, they had a front-row seat for the horrors of combat. Dead bodies were a common sight, as were dismembered limbs. Many were forced to engage in hand-to-hand combat and to kill enemies in close proximity. Hollywood-worthy jungle terrors were in fact very real—poisonous cobras, spiders as a big as a man’s hand, triple-digit temperatures, stifling humidity—and an oppressive stench hung over everything. One man recounts the story of a soldier’s gruesome attack by a tiger. Another tells of a friend who, not wanting to complete another mission, willfully sticks his fingers into a fan in order to receive medical exemption. The sentiments of each veteran bear remarkable similarities. They don’t defend their actions and, while regretful, rarely apologize. They’re incredulous at the treatment they received at home since they did what their country asked of them (the specter of Agent Orange is the notable and frequent exception to their patriotic feelings). Some still seethe and are openly angry, but most are resigned. What’s left unexplored is how helpful the support-group meetings were for the men struggling with PTSD. It’s only natural, with the peculiar and extreme circumstances of Vietnam, that such a group would offer them solace. Perhaps that’s what led them to speak their minds here, as well as to state their final, selfless mission: to encourage this generation of Americans to treat the veterans of Iraq, Afghanistan and all future wars with the respect and honor they deserve.

Open, honest, raw and readable. 

Pub Date: Oct. 6, 2012

ISBN: 978-1477489420

Page Count: 218

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Feb. 27, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2013


Spears’ vulnerability shines through as she describes her painful journey from vulnerable girl to empowered woman.

A heartfelt memoir from the pop superstar.

Spears grew up with an alcoholic father, an exacting mother, and a fear of disappointing them both. She also displayed a natural talent for singing and dancing and a strong work ethic. Spears is grateful for the adult professionals who helped her get her start, but the same can’t be said of her peers. When she met Justin Timberlake, also a Mouseketeer on the Disney Channel’s updated Mickey Mouse Club, the two formed an instant bond. Spears describes her teenage feelings for Timberlake as “so in love with him it was pathetic,” and she’s clearly angry about the rumors and breakup that followed. This tumultuous period haunted her for years. Out of many candidates for villains of the book, Timberlake included, perhaps the worst are the careless journalists of the late 1990s and early 2000s, who indulged Timberlake while vilifying Spears. The cycle repeated for years, taking its toll on her mental health. Spears gave birth to sons Sean Preston and Jayden James within two years, and she describes the difficulties they all faced living in the spotlight. The author writes passionately about how custody of her boys and visits with them were held over her head, and she recounts how they were used to coerce her to make decisions that weren’t always in her best interest. As many readers know, conservancy followed, and for 13 years, she toured, held a residency in Las Vegas, and performed—all while supposedly unable to take care of herself, an irony not lost on her. Overall, the book is cathartic, though readers who followed her 2021 trial won’t find many revelations, and many of the other newsworthy items have been widely covered in the run-up to the book’s release.

Spears’ vulnerability shines through as she describes her painful journey from vulnerable girl to empowered woman.

Pub Date: Oct. 24, 2023

ISBN: 9781668009048

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Gallery Books/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Oct. 25, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: tomorrow


What a talent, what a career, what a life, and what a treat to relive it all with this most down-to-earth of demigods.

A gloriously massive memoir from a sui generis star.

When Keith Richards and Bruce Springsteen published 500-page memoirs, that seemed long—but as we learned, they really did have that much to say. Streisand doubles the ante with 1,000 pages. In addition to chronicling her own life, the author offers fascinating lessons on acting, directing, film editing, sound mixing, lighting, and more, as revealed in detailed accounts of the making of each of her projects. As Stephen Sondheim commented about her, “It’s not just the gift, it’s the willingness to take infinite pains.” The pains really pay off. With every phase of her life, from childhood in Brooklyn to her 27-year-romance with current husband, James Brolin, Streisand throws everything she has—including her mother’s scrapbook and her own considerable talent as a writer—into developing the characters, settings, conversations, meals, clothes, and favorite colors and numbers of a passionately lived existence. In the process, she puts her unique stamp on coffee ice cream, egg rolls, dusty rose, pewter gray, the number 24, Donna Karan, Modigliani, and much more. Among the heroes are her father, who died when she was very young but nevertheless became an ongoing inspiration. The villains include her mother, whose coldness and jealousy were just as consistent. An armada of ex-boyfriends, colleagues, and collaborators come to life in a tone that captures the feel of Streisand’s spoken voice by way of Yiddishisms, parenthetical asides, and snappy second thoughts. The end is a little heavy on tributes, but you wouldn’t want to miss the dog cloning, the generous photo section, or this line, delivered in all seriousness: “Looking back, I feel as if I didn't fulfill my potential.”

What a talent, what a career, what a life, and what a treat to relive it all with this most down-to-earth of demigods.

Pub Date: Nov. 7, 2023

ISBN: 9780525429524

Page Count: 992

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: Nov. 6, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2023

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