Brave Men, Gentle Heroes presents the frank, moving, and harrowing stories of men who served in World War II and their sons who served in Vietnam – fathers and sons bonded as deeply by their common experience in war as by blood.
These are men who served in the Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marine Corps. Officers and enlisted men, career servicemen and citizen soldiers. Men of European, African, Asian, Latino, and Native American ancestry. Men who speak in the authentic voices of an Indiana farmer, a Brooklyn bus driver, a Louisiana small businessman, a Seattle machinist.
The contrasts between World War II and Vietnam are well known to Americans, and they are everywhere in these compelling accounts: the clear aims of World War II, the muddled goals in Vietnam; the heroes' welcome accorded the World War II veterans, the scorn heaped upon their sons. But the stories in Brave Men, Gentle Heroes are also rich with elements intrinsic to all wars and all soldiers: courage, honor, service, duty, youth, adventure, fear, idealism, love of country and of family, exasperation with military bureaucracy. In these pages you will find war's carnage and war's heroism, war's purpose and war's futility, war's meaning and war's tragic meaninglessness.
Taken together, the stories in Brave Men, Gentle Heroes tell the history of the two wars, each the defining experience of a generation. This is history told not at the level of presidents and generals, but through the recollections of the men who shouldered the rifles, manned the ships, and flew the planes. We're familiar with the effects of the two wars on world politics. But what did they do to American families? 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.
Brave Men, Gentle Heroes is a book for those who have been to war and those who have been spared its horror. It is a book for individuals to reflect upon and families to share.