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A Dangerous Country: An American Elegy

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Ron Kovic, author of Born on the Fourth of July and one of the country’s most powerful and passionate antiwar voices, completes his Vietnam Trilogy with this poignant, inspiring, and deeply personal elegy to America.

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What people are saying…

“A powerful, often unsettling book by one of the major voices to come out of the Vietnam era.”
Kirkus Reviews

“Ron Kovic is one of America’s great voices on war and what it does to the body and soul. His story is as timeless and tragic as the country itself.”
—Bruce Springsteen

Born on the Fourth of July author Kovic returns to his traumatic experiences during the Vietnam War for this searing memoir . . . While Kovic covers familiar territory, he does so with immediacy and bracing candor. Even those acquainted with the author’s story will find this fascinating.”
Publishers Weekly

“More than five decades later, [Kovic’s] words drop the reader right back into the jungles of that misbegotten fight, recording his fellow soldiers’ routines, the perils they faced nightly on patrol and in camp, and the platitudes he would repeat to himself before he ultimately became disillusioned with his role in the conflict, turning antiwar activist. It’s all set against his efforts, twenty years later, to carve out a meaningful civilian life, even as he shares the terrible burden of having accidentally killed one of his own men in the heat of combat. The result is a powerful rumination on the true costs of war.”
Booklist

“Ron Kovic’s brilliant idea of opening this book with his Vietnam diary is riveting. It puts the reader in Ron’s platoon, in the psyche of a young, patriotic sergeant who is innocent to the tragedy up ahead. Then he turns that tragedy into a blessing, a gift for us all. I, also, never thought I’d learn how to be a more loving sexual partner to my wife from someone in a wheelchair, but Ron Kovic is one of my teachers. His spirit transcends reality.”
—John Densmore, author of Riders on the Storm: My Life with Jim Morrison and The Doors

“With A Dangerous Country: An American Elegy, Ron Kovic has reached into his heart for closure to his great memoir Born on the Fourth of July.
—Oliver Stone, filmmaker

“Ron Kovic’s memoir Dangerous Country moved me deeply. The memoir opens with a transcription of the young man’s Vietnam war diary, giving us a real-time, day-to-day perspective of the grueling life of a marine. As the days pass, we feel the young man’s disillusionment and horror growing. Wounded badly in action, Kovic is sent home paralyzed from the chest down and is forced to reassess his convictions and his future. Tormented by guilt and remorse, Kovic tries to find peace by throwing himself into the antiwar movement; getting involved in a passionate romance; frantically writing down and painting his experiences; moving around the world—but peace never comes to him. The massive destruction caused by war is not just physical, but deeply psychological. A profoundly honest portrayal of the internal struggle that all veterans of war experience for the rest of their lives.”
—Kaylie Jones, author of A Soldier’s Daughter Never Cries

“As the son of the architect of the Vietnam War, I was deeply humbled and saddened reading A Dangerous Country: An American Elegy. Ron Kovic’s devastatingly detailed daily journal of his life serving on the front lines and his eloquent portrayal of his postwar trauma are a powerful call for mental health reform for the 850,000 Vietnam veterans alive today and the millions of veterans who have served in subsequent wars. If there is a final chapter to the war’s legacy, this may be it.”
—Craig McNamara, author of Because Our Fathers Lied: A Memoir of Truth and Family, from Vietnam to Today

“Ron Kovic totally captured my emotions with A Dangerous Country. I savored every sentence of the book. Anyone who has a conscience owes it to the world to read his story.”
—Henry Zeybel, The VVA Veteran

PRAISE FOR BORN ON THE FOURTH OF JULY:

“Classic and timeless.”
New York Times on Born on the Fourth of July

“One of the most powerful [books] I’ve ever read.”
—Bruce Springsteen

“Ron Kovic’s memoir is a classic of antiwar literature.”
—Howard Zinn, author of A People’s History of the United States

“As relevant as ever, this book is an education. Ron is a true American, and his great heart and hard-won wisdom shine through these pages.”
—Oliver Stone, filmmaker

“A great courageous fellow, a man of deep moral convictions and an uncompromising disposition.”
—Secretary of State John Kerry

“Ron Kovic is one of the premier voices of a generation. The large irony of his birthday provides the background for a journey which begins with the unquestioning service in Vietnam, his terrible wounding with all the anger and ] bitterness that follows, and ends with his passionate discovery of a large and all too human heart. I’ll say this flat out: If you want to understand the everlasting reverberations of our war in Vietnam and how it impacts our current events, you must read this book.”
—Larry Heinemann, author of Paco’s Story, winner of the National Book Award

“The most personal and honest testament published thus far by any young man who fought in the Vietnam War. . . And what is so remarkable about Kovic’s writing is that whereas one is perfectly prepared to forgive him occasional lapses into bitterness, self-pity or excesses of rage, he retains the most extraordinary self-control throughout. He very patiently, meticulously, unselfconsciously defines the sort of background he came from . . . Only by understanding Kovic’s working class credentials can one begin to comprehend the depth of betrayal he has every right to feel.”
New York Times (Editors’ Choice)

PRAISE FOR HURRICANE STREET:

“Hurricane Street is an unflinching antiwar declaration, written in blood and the sweat of too many haunted nights by a Vietnam Marine Corps sergeant who later opposed the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.”
Los Angeles Times

“In Hurricane Street, Kovic offers a deeply moving account of the struggle of Vietnam veterans to hold politicians accountable to the maimed warriors they sent into harm’s way and then abandoned.”
—Robert Scheer, author of Playing President

“The author of Born on the Fourth of July (1976) recounts the brief 1974 movement he initiated to change how Veterans Affairs hospitals cared for wounded soldiers . . . The great strength of this book is that the author never minces words. With devastating candor, he memorializes a short-lived but important movement and the men who made it happen. Sobering reflections on past treatment of America’s injured war veterans.”
Kirkus Reviews


Description

WHEN EIGHTEEN-YEAR-OLD RON KOVIC enlisted in the United States Marine Corps in 1964, he couldn’t foresee that he would return from Vietnam paralyzed and in a wheelchair for life. His best-selling 1976 memoir Born on the Fourth of July became an antiwar classic and was adapted into an Oscar-winning film starring Tom Cruise as Kovic. His follow-up, Hurricane Street, chronicled his advocacy for Vietnam veterans’ rights. A Dangerous Country: An American Elegy completes Kovic’s Vietnam Trilogy, delving deep into his long and often agonizing journey home from war and eventual healing, forgiveness, and spiritual redemption.

The book opens with Kovic’s never-before-revealed Vietnam diary (July 7, 1967–July 26, 1968). His entries from this period portray a patriotic young soldier with a strong moral and religious conscience. Kovic then recalls his political awakening after his return from Vietnam confined to a wheelchair following his horrific injury. He also chronicles the tremendous guilt he feels over his accidental killing of a fellow Marine while on patrol. This killing psychologically torments him as much as his severe disability.

After years of social, political, and sexual turmoil—and on the brink of suicide—Kovic experiences a powerful epiphany that gives him a reason and purpose to live; a renewed faith and strength to carry on. Although his trauma is severe, his third memoir is ultimately the inspirational story of a survivor finding a way to rise above his depression and despair, forgiving his enemies and himself, and growing deeply committed to a new life.


Book Details

  • Hardcover: 280 pages
  • Published: 2/13/24
  • IBSN: 9781636141664
  • e-IBSN: 9781636141473

Author

RON KOVIC served two tours of duty during the Vietnam War. He was paralyzed from his chest down in combat in 1968 and has been in a wheelchair ever since. Along with Oliver Stone, Kovic was the coscreenwriter of the 1989 Academy Award–winning film based on Kovic’s best-selling memoir Born on the Fourth of July (starring Tom Cruise as Kovic). Hurricane Street (2016) detailed Kovic’s efforts to organize the American Veterans Movement in 1974, fighting for better treatment of injured and disabled veterans. His latest work is the forthcoming A Dangerous Country.

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