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Brave Men, Gentle Heroes: American Fathers and Sons in World War II and Vietnam

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Brave Men, Gentle Heroes presents the honest, touching, and harrowing stories of men who served in World War II and of their sons who served in Vietnam -- fathers and sons bonded as deeply by their experience in war as by blood. Though World War II and Vietnam were vastly different -- the clear aims of World War II, the muddled goals of Vietnam; the hero's welcome accorded Brave Men, Gentle Heroes presents the honest, touching, and harrowing stories of men who served in World War II and of their sons who served in Vietnam -- fathers and sons bonded as deeply by their experience in war as by blood. Though World War II and Vietnam were vastly different -- the clear aims of World War II, the muddled goals of Vietnam; the hero's welcome accorded World War II veterans, the scorn heaped upon their sons -- each defined a generation. In these pages you will find war's carnage and heroism, purpose and futility, meaning and tragic meaninglessness. Molded by the awful crucible of war, these seemingly ordinary men offer extraordinary insights into what it means to be a warrior, an American, a father, and a son.


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Brave Men, Gentle Heroes presents the honest, touching, and harrowing stories of men who served in World War II and of their sons who served in Vietnam -- fathers and sons bonded as deeply by their experience in war as by blood. Though World War II and Vietnam were vastly different -- the clear aims of World War II, the muddled goals of Vietnam; the hero's welcome accorded Brave Men, Gentle Heroes presents the honest, touching, and harrowing stories of men who served in World War II and of their sons who served in Vietnam -- fathers and sons bonded as deeply by their experience in war as by blood. Though World War II and Vietnam were vastly different -- the clear aims of World War II, the muddled goals of Vietnam; the hero's welcome accorded World War II veterans, the scorn heaped upon their sons -- each defined a generation. In these pages you will find war's carnage and heroism, purpose and futility, meaning and tragic meaninglessness. Molded by the awful crucible of war, these seemingly ordinary men offer extraordinary insights into what it means to be a warrior, an American, a father, and a son.

30 review for Brave Men, Gentle Heroes: American Fathers and Sons in World War II and Vietnam

  1. 5 out of 5

    Al

    A superb oral history of two generations at war—sometimes with each other. It won’t come as a surprise that the Americans who fought in WWII and Vietnam often saw their missions in radically different ways. Takiff has done a very smart thing in pairing and playing off the remembrances of veterans of both conflicts. He adds yet more by focusing on father & son veterans, some of whom, nearly 30 years after the second war ended, have trouble talking about their experiences with each other, if less s A superb oral history of two generations at war—sometimes with each other. It won’t come as a surprise that the Americans who fought in WWII and Vietnam often saw their missions in radically different ways. Takiff has done a very smart thing in pairing and playing off the remembrances of veterans of both conflicts. He adds yet more by focusing on father & son veterans, some of whom, nearly 30 years after the second war ended, have trouble talking about their experiences with each other, if less so with the interviewer. Where Gene Camp, a WWII veteran who was also one of the earliest American fighters in Vietnam, rails against the “all the liberals barking and carrying on” and “the people back here . . . protesting and making speeches and running to Canada,” his infantry captain son Greg says quietly, “I was young and naive and very patriotic. Now I would say we got into Vietnam for lots of reasons, but it wasn’t the sort of overarching, noble reason that I had thought. . . . It was like throwing good money after bad.” Even fathers and sons who more or less agree on the flawed nature of the Vietnam misadventure find difficulty in speaking in these pages. But speak they do, to each other and to the world, often eloquently, often quite movingly. To all their conversations Takiff adds a smart introduction and running commentary that addresses all the “well-rehearsed generalizations” we’ve long heard about both wars, reminding his readers that plenty of WWII vets returned with PTSD, plenty of Vietnam vets returned normal, and plenty of commentators have erred in thinking we won WWII just because we were the good guys and lost Vietnam because we were—well, something else.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Abby Jones

    This wonderful book cataloged fathers who served in WW2 and their sons who served in Vietnam. There are heroic stories, cowardly ones, good stories, and bad ones. I came away with a sense of how our soldiers in WW2 drew strength from the belief that what they did was right and the nation was behind them. While the lack of moral conviction – most of them had no idea if the war was right or not – and support from the nation pulled down our Vietnam soldiers. I disagreed politically and morally with This wonderful book cataloged fathers who served in WW2 and their sons who served in Vietnam. There are heroic stories, cowardly ones, good stories, and bad ones. I came away with a sense of how our soldiers in WW2 drew strength from the belief that what they did was right and the nation was behind them. While the lack of moral conviction – most of them had no idea if the war was right or not – and support from the nation pulled down our Vietnam soldiers. I disagreed politically and morally with many of the men who fought in Vietnam, while others amazed me with their courage. This book gives you insight into the everyday soldier’s reaction to sweeping historical events, the pain of sending your son off to war when you know exactly how hellish it is, and different paths of healing.

  3. 4 out of 5

    James

    A really good collection of Veteran interviews, from both Fathers who served in WW2 and Sons who served in Vietnam. After reading this book, one gets a very poignant and humbling view of what our combat veterans go through.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Brenda

    This is on my list to read. Bought it for my Dad as his father was in WWII and he served in Vietnam. He loved it, so I look forward to digging into this one!

  5. 4 out of 5

    Celi

    A little sensational - or, if you prefer, sensationalistic - but still an easy and enjoyable read.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Meghann

    I have had this on my to read list forever and have no recollection of reading it and yet I put it on this list as a read in 2004 with a rating of 4 stars... hmm.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Carrie

  8. 4 out of 5

    Bob

  9. 5 out of 5

    Corine

  10. 4 out of 5

    Jacy Levine

  11. 5 out of 5

    Dana

  12. 4 out of 5

    Christine Wichers

  13. 5 out of 5

    •*•.suprasixxcinco.•*•

  14. 5 out of 5

    Samantha McLean

  15. 4 out of 5

    Dustin Tidyman-Jones

  16. 4 out of 5

    Gina

  17. 5 out of 5

    Shauna

  18. 5 out of 5

    Kevin

  19. 4 out of 5

    Justin

  20. 4 out of 5

    JP

  21. 4 out of 5

    Leigh Wright

  22. 4 out of 5

    Katherine

  23. 5 out of 5

    Andrew III

  24. 4 out of 5

    Harold Lund

  25. 5 out of 5

    Ted

  26. 5 out of 5

    Dana

  27. 5 out of 5

    Leila Hane

  28. 5 out of 5

    Ben

  29. 5 out of 5

    Peggi

  30. 5 out of 5

    Sarah

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