The Education of Corporal John Musgrave: A Memoir

John Musgrave. Knopf, $26.95 (288p) ISBN 978-0-451-49356-9
In this sobering memoir, Musgrave (The Vietnam Years) revisits his tour in Vietnam and his advocacy against the war after surviving a grave injury. Musgrave grew up in 1950s Missouri and enlisted in the Marines at the age of 17. His first rude awakening came at boot camp, where recruits were verbally and physically abused. He endured the harsh treatment, and in 1967 was shipped off to Vietnam. There, Musgrave was forced to confront war’s messy realities, starting with killing the enemy. (“When I killed a man for the first time, I didn’t feel cool. I felt sick.”) Though he poignantly captures the rigors of jungle warfare, anyone remotely acquainted with Vietnam’s history may feel like they’ve heard this story before. After suffering a life-threatening chest wound, Musgrave returned stateside with a Purple Heart, but his status as a veteran made him a target for the anti-war movement. This exacerbated his own doubts about the war—prompted by the loss of lives he saw to friendly fire and the inferior firearms his squad was entrusted with—and led Musgrave to become a vocal opponent of the war. Musgrave is best at conveying life under fire, but despite a glowing foreword from Ken Burns and Lynn Novick, his observations, while heartfelt, aren’t novel. It would be hard to mistake this for a new classic. Agent: Jay Mandel, WME. (May)
Reviewed on : 03/25/2021
Release date: 05/18/2021
Genre: Nonfiction
Book - 978-1-101-97302-8
Book - 1 pages - 978-0-451-49357-6
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