Format: Trade Paperback
Dimensions: 208 pages, 8.03 × 5.28 × 0.46 in
Published: October 24, 2006
Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
The following ISBNs are associated with this title:
ISBN - 10: 0812976169
ISBN - 13: 9780812976168
About the Book
The Pulitzer Prize-winning Tracy Kidder, author of "The Soul of a New Machine," writes for the first time about himself in an astonishingly honest, comic, and moving memoir of the Vietnam War.
Read from the Book
Chapter 1 War Stories II I am the author of Ivory Fields, a novel. I wrote it soon after I came home from Vietnam. Not many have read the book. After thirty-three publishers turned it down, I lit a fire in a trash barrel behind a rented house in Iowa and burned up all my copies of the manuscript. Years and years went by, and the book became a part of my distant memories of being a soldier, memories that would creep up on me when I was washing dishes or turning a key in a lock, memories that I wished away. Then one morning another copy of the novel arrived in the mail, from an old friend who was cleaning out his files, and I realized I was glad to have it back. From time to time I look at it, and I think. The protagonist of Ivory Fields is a strange, doomed young Army officer named Larry Dempsey. He''s a second lieutenant, just as I was when I arrived in Vietnam in June 1968. But Lieutenant Dempsey is sent to Vietnam to lead an infantry platoon in combat. Whereas I commanded, in a manner of speaking, a detachment of eight enlisted men who performed an indoor sort of job, a classified mission called communications intelligence, in support of the 198th Light Infantry Brigade of the Americal Division. We belonged to the Army Security Agency, but in Vietnam we worked under the false though actually more descriptive name Radio Research. I imagine this disguise was meant to confuse not only our enemies but also our friends who didn''t have proper security clearances, but I don''t kn
From the Publisher
My Detachment is a war story like none you have
ever read before, an unromanticized portrait of a young man coming
of age in the controversial war that defined a generation. In an
astonishingly honest, comic, and moving account of his tour of duty
in Vietnam, master storyteller Tracy Kidder writes for the first
time about himself. This extraordinary memoir is destined to become
Kidder was an ROTC intelligence officer, just months out of college
and expecting a stateside assignment, when his orders arrived for
Vietnam. There, lovesick, anxious, and melancholic, he tried to
assume command of his detachment, a ragtag band of eight
more-or-less ungovernable men charged with reporting on enemy radio
He eventually learned not only to lead them but to laugh and drink
with them as they shared the boredom, pointlessness, and fear of
war. Together, they sought a ghostly enemy, homing in on radio
transmissions and funneling intelligence gathered by others. Kidder
realized that he would spend his time in Vietnam listening in on
battle but never actually experiencing it.
With remarkable clarity and with great detachment, Kidder looks
back at himself from across three and a half decades, confessing
how, as a young lieutenant, he sought to borrow from the tragedy
around him and to imagine himself a romantic hero. Unrelentingly
honest, rueful, and revealing, My Detachment
gives us war without heroism, while preserving those rare
moments of redeeming grace in the midst of lunacy and danger. The
officers and men of My Detachment are not the sort
of people who appear in war movies-they are the ones who appear
only in war, and they are unforgettable.
From the Hardcover edition.
About the Author
Tracy Kidder graduated from Harvard and studied at the University
of Iowa. He has won the Pulitzer Prize, the National Book Award,
the Robert F. Kennedy Award, and many other literary prizes. The
author of Mountains Beyond Mountains, Home Town, Old Friends, Among
Schoolchildren, House, and The Soul of a New Machine, Kidder lives
in Massachusetts and Maine.
From the Hardcover edition.