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Echoes From The Infantry
I have been teaching an English/United States History course at Oceanside
High School in New York for 15 years. As an enrichment activity, during our
WWII unit, I asked two WWII veterans to come and speak to my students about
their experiences, both during and after the war. Well, I listened as these
two special men captivated my students with poignant recollections of the war
and what it was like afterwards, when the final shot was fired and they were
asked to embrace the conventional role that society had reserved for them.
All this, while trying like heck to reconcile with the demons from the not
so distant past. I became real close with one of the men in particular.
He described what it was like for him, post war, and the impact it
had on his relationships -- especially with his children (all Baby Boomers obviously).
It occurred to me that this had all the makings of a fascinating study in human
behavior and psychology. One of the most rewarding things I've been told thus
far is that ECHOES FROM THE INFANTRY is not just another "war novel" -
that it really transcends the battlefield into realms far more universal,
exploring themes like reconciliation, forgiveness, redemption, etc.
Many Baby Boomers have already thanked me, expressing the sentiment that
"I have told their very story." I think for most who read, the experience
is both moving and therapeutic.
Frank Nappi's web site, is http://www.franknappi.com
A review of the book by Linda Sittler
Echoes From The Infantry
By Frank Nappi
A moving first novel about a courageous soldier who fought in WWII
and grew to hate it. Twentysomething James McCleary, foot soldier
in the 95th Infantry Division, was "a typical dogface," as his best friend puts it.
Having fought through most of the war, including the horrific Battle of the Bulge,
he finishes in the hands of the enemy, a POW. The war over, he returns to
Far Rockaway, N.Y., and to his sweetheart, Maddie Brandt.
He marries Maddie and fathers three sons, to whom he remains an enigma
all his life. It was the war-physically intact, he's a casualty nonetheless.
What he saw and what he did never leaves him, making it impossible to perform
the roles society has assigned him. "I don't think I can remember one time when
I saw him laugh," one of the boys says to Maddie, a complaint shared by all
three siblings. But it's John, the oldest and most sensitive, who suffers
most from a father missing in action. And it's John who, at last, gains an
insight into the nature and extent of the war wounds. After Maddie's death,
the McClearys put the house up for sale. Emptying the attic, John finds a
packet of letters from James, a young soldier, to Maddie, the girl he loves
and left behind. In alternating scenes, the author shows James's view of the
war and John's reaction to it. The son gets to see his father in a light that
astonishes him-not the shadowy, withdrawn figure that embittered his growing up,
but someone vividly alive, someone as afraid as he was brave, someone remarkable.
All but flawless, and certainly heartfelt, and searing in its condemnation. On his
last page, Nappi quotes Christopher Marlowe: "Accurst be he who first invented war."
Kirkus Reviews, September 1, 2005.
ORDER THE BOOK AT AMAZON.COM
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