Thursday, July 31, 2008

Mini-Review: “Fortunate Son – The Autobiography of Lewis B. Puller, Jr.”

The name of General “Chesty” Puller brings a proud smile to the lips of every Marine. He is part of the pantheon of “the few and the proud.” His son, Lewis Puller, Jr., has written a memoir that tells the story of growing up in the shadow of a legendary father, becoming a Marine officer in his own right, losing his legs in an explosion while serving in Vietnam, and struggling to build a life for himself in the aftermath. This thoughtful and thought-provoking book was awarded the Pulitzer Prize.

Lewis Puller, Jr. demonstrates a great deal of transparency in recounting his pilgrimage from the son of a war hero to a wounded warrior looking for his rightful place in the world. The New York Times called this book: “A haunting tribute to the names on the Vietnam Veterans’ Memorial . . . An important contribution to the personal literature of war.”

The fact that much of Puller’s personal journey took place during the same time the nation was struggling with building the Vietnam Veterans’ Memorial adds a special poignancy to this memoir. Several of my friends who have served recently in Iraq and Afghanistan commended this book to me as one that had helped them in their own process of reconciling their experiences in war with their return to the United States.

This is a story of great loss and of commensurate courage and determination. I think you will find it inspiring and well worth reading.


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