Born on the Fourth of July
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“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
“Born on the Fourth of July brings back the era of the Vietnam War at a time when the Establishment is trying to make the nation forget what they call the “Vietnam syndrome.” Ron Kovic’s memoir is written with poetic passion and grips your attention from the very first page to the last. It is a classic of antiwar literature and I hope it will be read by large numbers of young people, who will be both sobered and inspired by his story. —Howard Zinn
“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
“There is no book more relevant in the 21st century to healing the wound of Vietnam, which continues to bring so much pain to our country, as reflected in the last presidential election . . . It remains to Kovic to remind us that history matters, and that the cost of our high follies persists.” —ROBERT SCHEER, Los Angeles Times columnist
This New York Times bestseller (more than one million copies sold) details the author's life story (portrayed by Tom Cruise in the Oliver Stone film version)--from a patriotic soldier in Vietnam, to his severe battlefield injury, to his role as the country's most outspoken anti-Vietnam War advocate, spreading his message from his wheelchair.
were all over me for weeks, and I was sorry I’d ever told them anything. I still played after that, but it was different. I was thinking about other things, other things I wanted to be. By that fall it seemed the guys on the block were almost grown up. In the halls at school we still gave each other the old Woodchuck Club signal we had started in sixth grade, sticking our hands under our chins, moving our fingers up and down, shouting, “Woodchuck, woodchuck.” It was crazy but it kept us
pain. Tommy held his head with his hands still shaking, looking at him sitting there in disbelief. He looked up at Tommy’s face and he could see that he was very sad. The crowd had gathered now watching the two friends almost with curiosity. He tried wiping the tears from his eyes, still trying to laugh and make Tommy and himself and all the others feel more at ease, but Tommy would not smile and he kept holding his head. Still crying, he shook his head back and forth. And now, looking up at
dreams, the medals, the hills taken with Castiglia by my side his army-navy store canteen rattling, the movies the books the plastic guns, everything in 3-D and the explosive spiraling colors of a rainbow. Except this time, this time it is Bobby and me. What if I had seen someone like me that day, a guy in a wheelchair, just sitting there in front of the senior class not saying a word? Maybe things would have been different. Maybe that’s all it would have taken. Bobby is telling his story and I
was that?” “That was corporal, he was the last to come back. And that was when it happened,” he said. “What happened?” said the major. “That was when the corporal was killed.” The bald sergeant who worked for the major walked in just as he told the major the thing that had been rolling around in his head all night. “What happened?” said the major. The bald sergeant was putting some papers on the major’s desk. He did that and walked out. “There were a bunch of shots,” he said carefully.
found himself reading a small pocket Bible so he would not have to look at them and writing long letters to his mother and father. He wrote in his diary that he wanted to become a priest, and that was what he told his parents in the letter about the corporal that he finally wrote home. He told them the story he had told the major, the story about the firefight. And the whole thing in the letter took on a new and beautiful meaning. He had seen a man killed and something, something very deep and