The Education of Corporal John Musgrave

Knopf. Nov. 2021. 288p. ISBN 9780451493569. $26.95. MEMOIR
Musgrave (Notes to the Man Who Shot Me) says that he fulfilled his childhood dream when he enlisted in the Marine Corps at age 17, in 1966. Here he offers a moving account of his deployment in Vietnam, where he miraculously survived a service-ending chest wound at Con Thien in 1967. He returned home to a United States torn by war protests and eventually became a spokesman for Vietnam Veterans Against the War (VVAW). With VVAW, he opposed the Nixon administration for using often-teenaged U.S. troops as cannon fodder and for killing and brutalizing millions of Vietnamese civilians and calling it “collateral damage.” Musgrave’s memoir has detailed chapters about his childhood in Independence, MO; boot camp and infantry training; his year in Vietnam as a “grunt” (infantryman); making the rough adjustment to college life in Kansas as a Vietnam veteran; his bouts of drinking brought on by physical pain and post-traumatic stress; and his still ongoing healing process. Since 2007, Musgrave has devoted himself to counseling veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
VERDICT This often-engrossing memoir might offer comfort to families of people serving in the armed forces and will also appeal to Vietnam Warera readers. See Gerald Nicosia’s classic Home to War for an in-depth narrative of the VVAW.
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