The summer after highschool graduation in 1967, Grady Myers decides to escape from his boring hometown of Boise, Idaho, a “Western backwater where timThe summer after highschool graduation in 1967, Grady Myers decides to escape from his boring hometown of Boise, Idaho, a “Western backwater where times could’ve easily passed for a decade earlier,” via Vietnam. But the recruiters won’t have him, first because the artistic boy asks for a drafting job and the man says they need combat troops. The second recruiter, on hearing that the boy wants a combat position, rejects him because he wears glasses. Myers spends a semester in college and then, even more bored, “volunteers” for the draft. This time he’s accepted. The rest of “Boocoo Dinky Dow” (2012), a memoir published after Myers’ death, details his transformations from boy to soldier to wounded Vietnam veteran. The book was cowritten with his ex-wife, longtime journalist Julie Titone. The collaboration did not result in a smooth, polished read. Titone clearly felt it was important to honor Myers' voice, not just his stories. I found that lack of polish offputting at first, but I quickly learned to ignore and then to enjoy it. The tone is very much that of a man holding forth over beers at the pub, telling his truth if not THE truth. As with most modern war stories, “Boocoo” is fueled by ironies. For instance, although the soldiers constantly talk about escaping from Vietnam, the young Myers clearly finds soldiering entertaining, right up to and apparently even during the ambush which ends his military career. Another recurrent irony is that, “An infantryman is rarely told more than he needs to know to do his job, and sometimes not even that.” Again and again, the soldiers in “Boocoo Dinky Dow” make life and death decisions in an information vacuum, in a universe in which the rules they grew up by are useless, and most useless of all is that common sense rule that says staying alive is an individual’s primary goal. “Boocoo Dinky Dow” reminded me that wars are (and probably must be) waged by boys turned too suddenly -- and incompletely -- into men....more
I'll try to remember to link to the full review when it is published:
McClintock succeeds beautifully at sketching the rich web of Antarctic life and tI'll try to remember to link to the full review when it is published:
McClintock succeeds beautifully at sketching the rich web of Antarctic life and the human-caused changes that challenge it, as well as the ways researchers work to understand these things, but he has neglected to web together a coherent narrative. So "Lost Antarctica" is no page turner: it reads like a series of short, fascinating articles, each ending on the same dire climate change warnings.
This lack of an overarching narrative is no reason for most readers to deny themselves the pleasures of this book, one of which is delightful description. Here's an example from a brief narrative about diving in Antarctica: "Descending first through six feet of sea ice and then, once below the ice, to a depth of about twenty feet, I paused to take in my surroundings. The sea ice above me glowed, filtering sunlight to the depths. I was drifting as if just below the ceiling of a magnificent building whose floor lay eighty feet below me. I was struck by the same sense of awe one experiences entering the Sistine Chapel, only instead of Michelangelo's paintings, I was gazing at a ceiling aglow and adorned with intricate platelets of ice."
The reader interested in Antarctica; in the front lines of the science of climate change; or in the intricate dance of life on Earth will be amply rewarded. McClintock's`articles' offer moments of alternating loveliness and careful, cogent explanation that together allow the reader to feel she has sampled something of the intricacy and wonder of life in Antarctica -- and force her to question whether Antarctica is a harsh place or simply a heartbreakingly vulnerable one....more
I can't remember ever writing that I thought "everyone" should read a book but I'm going to now, or close anyway: every American should read this bookI can't remember ever writing that I thought "everyone" should read a book but I'm going to now, or close anyway: every American should read this book. I swung back and forth from angry to startled to chagrined to disbelieving and back to angry with every chapter. The author could have repeated the obvious a bit less but in a book that quite literally changed the way I see myself, my country and most of all its history, I forgive him for a bit of repetition....more