United States Military Book Club discussion

General Discussion > Veterans Who Wnat to Tell Their Stories

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message 1: by Harry (new)

Harry Rothmann | 19 comments I am a veteran who just wrote a new book on the Vietnam War. This book, and one previously, has enabled me to deal with some of the "issues" that combat and the war left on me. I now feel that the more that we talk about (and write about) our experiences the better off we can be. So I have created a new facebook page https://www.facebook.com/RCIPUBS/) that show how we can share our stories. If you're curious please take a look at the various ways and means there are to tell our stories. Warriors and Fools How America's Leaders Lost the Vietnam War and Why It Still Matters by Harry Rothmann

message 2: by Denise (new)

Denise Gelberg | 23 comments Hi, Harry,
I look forward to reading your book. I was haunted by Tobias Wolff's telling of the experience on the ground in Vietnam. I'd love your opinion on my book, Engagement: A Novel. It tells the story of a young butter bar deployed to Iraq with the 10th Mountain Division's Second Brigade in June of 2004. It also tells the story of the wife left behind at Fort Drum, his parents and sister back home. My goal was to bridge the chasm between military families and those in the civilian world who know almost nothing of their sacrifices. I hope I was successful.
Denise Gelberg

message 3: by Harry (new)

Harry Rothmann | 19 comments Denise - Thanks for the comment. I think there should be more books about military families who have loved ones deployed abroad and what they go through. Thus, your goal is not only a worthy one, but essential as you indicate.
Recently my wife did an oral interview for the West Point Center of Oral History on her travails as an Army wife. It was also aired on CSPAN. A neighbor that we had not known ran into her in the parking lot, recognized her, and told her how interesting and informative that interview was. So getting the word out is, as you say, important to bridge that chasm.
I'll look for your book.

message 4: by Denise (new)

Denise Gelberg | 23 comments Hi, Harry,
I am thoroughly enjoying your wife's interview! (listening to it right now)

I wish I had known about the Center for Oral History when I was doing my research about West Point for Engagement. Luckily I had a retired LTC who vetted the portion of my book that describes Ring Weekend. My protagonists get married at the Jewish Chapel on June 1, 2003, the week after graduation. Then they're off to their first duty post, Ft. Drum and the newly minted 2LT's training at Ft. Benning. It's a rough initiation to the Army for the lonely new bride.

Thanks for letting me know about the Center for Oral History. After I finish your wife's interview I look forward to listening to yours.

message 5: by Harry (new)

Harry Rothmann | 19 comments Great! I'll tell her about you watching. She was so reluctant about doing the interview, but, in the end after it was over, she said it actually helped talking about her experiences. After both our experiences I decided to create a Facebook Page devoted to telling other veterans and their family members of ways they can tell their stories. It is up and running now and I'm getting some traction on providing assistance to other veterans.
BTW got your book! Harry

message 6: by Harry (new)

Harry Rothmann | 19 comments Denise - Having looked at your latest book and now knowing how interested you are in military life and its challenges, I'd recommend you read my "None Will Surpass" (228pp) before you take on the formidable challenge of reading"Warriors and Fools" (768pp). Besides, the former is more personable (its really a memoir of sorts), while the latter is a more formal history. Harry

message 7: by Denise (new)

Denise Gelberg | 23 comments Thanks for the suggestion. I find I do the most reading while traveling - and we have a trip coming up soon. Look forward to reading None Will Surpass.

message 8: by Harry (new)

Harry Rothmann | 19 comments Denise - I finished your book and wrote a review on my page. Congratulations! You did a great job of capturing the challenges and sacrifices that military families face and make. I was pleasantly surprised that you also did a wonderful job of portraying much of the culture that makes what being in the military satisfying as well as effective in the American Army - comraderie, unit cohesion, importance of NCOs, Platoon Sergeant to Platoon leader relationship, leaders setting the example and sharing the dangers, hardships with their men, etc. The people you talked to about all of that advised you well.

message 9: by Denise (new)

Denise Gelberg | 23 comments Dear Harry,
I forwarded your comments to the veterans who helped me so much in capturing the relationship between officers and NCOs, the esprit de corps that binds a unit together, and sacrifices both soldiers and their loved ones make when the country goes to war. They also taught me why, despite the hardships, they loved their time in the military.

I have your book, None Will Surpass, downloaded to my tablet. I look forward to reading it during my upcoming trip.

Thanks so much for taking the time to read Engagement and posting a review on your page.

message 10: by Denise (new)

Denise Gelberg | 23 comments Dear Harry,
I finished your book as I sailed across the Atlantic a week ago. What a wonderful read. I wish I had run across it as I was writing Engagement. As it was, I had many moments of recognition as I read your description of being a young West Point cadet and later a new 2LT and husband.

I enjoyed the entire story of your long military career, but my favorite part is how the Army found its footing once again after Vietnam and the transition to an all-volunteer service. It was heartening to read of the careful, strategic preparations for Desert Storm, the 1991 war to free Kuwait from Saddam Hussein's occupation. The first Gulf War was a case of the military being well used, to liberate a sovereign nation from a brutal aggressor, with civilian leaders listening to and working cooperatively with military leaders; a textbook example of how best to mobilize and deploy the brave men and women of our armed forces.

Many thanks for your important memoir.

message 11: by Harry (new)

Harry Rothmann | 19 comments Thanks Denise, glad you enjoyed it. Your comments about the first Gulf War are right on. You're becoming a first rate military strategist! Of course, when you get a chance, could always use another review on Amazon. What is your next project?

message 12: by Denise (new)

Denise Gelberg | 23 comments Hi, Harry,
I've posted reviews of None Will Surpass on Amazon and Goodreads.

I am currently working on a book about a woman who comes of age in the 1960s and ultimately wins the Nobel Prize in Medicine and Physiology for her work on the human microbiota. However, the work I did on Engagement has left me permanently changed. My interest in the use of the military by the civilian leadership remains high. Just now I watched CJ Chivers talk about his book, The Fighters. on YouTube. A former marine infantry officer, I found his perspective on the Iraq War thoughtful and compelling.

Are you working on a new project?

message 13: by Harry (new)

Harry Rothmann | 19 comments Thank you! I'll take a look at the video.

Actually the subject of civil-military intercourse during war is the main subject of my book on the Vietnam War - "Warriors and Fools." Interestingly I found that the same mistakes we made during Vietnam are being repeated today in the so-called 'war on terror.' Hence, I am now embroiled in an effort to get that across to any of the decision-makers I can reach that may make a difference. It is an uphill battle to say the least!

message 14: by Denise (new)

Denise Gelberg | 23 comments I now understand your title, "Warriors and Fools."

I imagine many Vietnam veterans cringe when they think of the misuse of the military in the post-9/11 era. I think what has bothered this concerned citizen most is civilian leaders who never served but have been only too happy to deploy our armed forces in misguided, unnecessary, and mismanaged operations, at tremendous cost to our military men and women and their families.

Given your vast experience, your credibility is beyond reproach. I hope you can make headway in your efforts with the current batch of civilian decision-makers.

message 15: by Harry (new)

Harry Rothmann | 19 comments I understand that you know of, and may have read some of, Andrew Bachevich’s writings on this issue. My views are somewhat similar, but I choose to focus on how to improve the civil-military cooperation and decision-making, whereas Skip argues for changes in policies and strategies. I think he’s right, but I’m inclined to think we can’t have an alteration of approaches without first a conscious change in understanding roles, responsibilities, and a greater sense of shared relationships that demand closer cooperation and understanding of how to make effective policies and strategies.

message 16: by Harry (new)

Harry Rothmann | 19 comments "The Nation that makes a great distinction between its scholars and its warriors will have its thinking done by cowards and its fighting done by fools."


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