Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Review: Barager Merges Vietnam War With Famous Music Concert for Great Drama!

Gimme Shelter (film)Image via Wikipedia
Altamont Augie

By Richard Barager

Wait! Before you start reading, click the title of this review and in the middle of the page, start the music of the 60s as mentioned in the book--including Ohio, Fire, The Ballad of the Green Berets, and more!

Sometimes behind the scenes, the real drama seeps out into a startling story discovered only 30 years later by a "John Doe's son..."

Caleb Levy was sent to San Francisco to create a trailer for the 30th anniversary of the Rolling Stones' 1969 U.S. Tour. Through a series of events, the outside concert actually took place in Altamont. Many considered the concert to represent the Death of the Sixties.

For me, I had already started on my career and took little time to keep up with those who woud go on to college, became involved in student organizations, the culture, the music, the drugs, the free love... In fact, I watched from my office window as protestors gathered on the street on the campus where I worked, or laughed at the streakers as they zoomed by sharing all they had to share.

It was my own personal connection, a young man I wrote to in Vietnam, that kept the war alive for me.

Altamont AugieInterestingly, Caleb Levy in doing his research for the trailer, had become more interested with an obscure fatality at that 1969 concert that nobody had paid much attention to that day...

And then when he found a picture of a man streaking--and in the background of that picture was a picture of a blond "with a bodacious grin, the freckled cheeks, the lustrous skin as yet unblemished by time..." and he realized it was his mother, he learned more than he ever imagined!

This is the story of that John Doe, later identified as David Noble, and Jackie Lundquist, Caleb's Mom.

David and Jackie met on campus and were immediately attracted to each other. Their beliefs were so far in opposite directions, however, that in a fit of anger, David joined the Marines and was soon serving his time in Vietnam. The first half of the book takes readers along with David as he fights a war that Jackie and many others opposed.

Many will still remember much about that war, but Barager takes us deep into the life of the soldiers as they are first changed in boot camp from boys into Marines. And then tossed into a country so unlike anything they could have imagined--there to kill or be killed. Many of my readers know that I've read a number of books from those who served in Vietnam. If Barager was not actually there, he has done amazing research and created an excellent story detailing the fear and anger as well as the close friendships from David's time there.

One of the most poignant scenes is when one of his officers takes a few minutes personal time to require David to write to his girl (David had no family), even if they had had a fight, noting that he "needed" to be able to write to somebody... So David began to write to Jackie, routinely. Never receiving a response. Until it was almost time for David to leave the service and Jackie had read in the news of how bad it was. She finally broke her silence...

And then David was home, only to find that Jackie was very involved with Kyle Levy, the Students for a Democratic Society and all the activities they held against the war. But they also rediscovered their love.

The second half of the book details much of what was happening on university campuses, and in particular, those "dreamed of" by Levy. Exploring the politics, the national role in the war, as well as what individuals were trying to develop as the New Left is an excellent review of the tumult existing in the U.S. because of the war. Still, the story of their romance is the drama that will draw readers into that time.

The magnitude of drug use, the sexual freedom that Jackie (and many others) explored while being involved with both Kyle and David underlies those national activities with a truly compelling but devastating drama that highlights the danger that many young people were in, without even realizing it--until it was too late. For those who lived the story, I believe they will find this book a must-read...Really, you don't want to miss this one.

Book Received Via
Gail M. Kearns
To Press and Beyond


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