The Staffords are a classic American clan--brave, stubborn, ambitious, idealistic--bound by a fierce love for one another and for the country whose seas they are sworn to protect. From American shores during the Civil War, through World War II, Vietnam, and beyond, generation after generation of this remarkable family endures hardship, tragedy, triumph, and passion in a gripping, impeccably researched story.
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Harvard: mention the name and you'll hear about academic excellence and overweening arrogance, about high-minded ambition and Harvard indifference, about pathways to power and people who think that power should be theirs simply because of where they went to college, about "the fellowship of scholars and educated men and women" and "the typical Harvard snob." And if this was a multiple choice test, I'd check all of the above, because Harvard is a place of great contradictions, which create conflict, which creates drama. That's why I decided to write about the place. And I went there, too. And my son goes there now. When he applied, I gave him this bit of advice, drawn from experience: "Some guys never get over the fact that they didn't get into Harvard. And some guys never get over the fact that they did. I don't want you to be either kind." But back when I was a senior at a Catholic high school in Boston, there was nowhere else that I wanted to go, because, quite simply, Harvard was the best you could ask for. That's what we'd heard, anyway. I arrived at Harvard in the fall of 1968. I had been assigned to Thayer Hall, a century-old dormitory in the Yard. It was my introduction to that world of history, tradition, and excellence. I stepped into my room and was greeted by? a three-foot pile of trash. Of all the rooms in all the dormitories in Harvard Yard, mine was the one that they had forgotten to clean. Or so I thought. That evening, my freshman education in the imperfections of even such an august institution as Harvard had begun. It would culminate on an April morning when I stood on the steps of that freshman dormitory and watched phalanxes of police eject student demonstrators from University Hall. It wasn't a tranquil time to go to college, but it wasn't boring, either. And for someone who knew that he wanted to pursue the business of story telling (in my application essay, I had written that I wanted to be like David Lean, the director of Lawrence of Arabia and other Hollywood epics), there was much to be learned of human drama as I watched disputes between students and administration spiral into outright conflict. But it wasn't all politics. Those of us who were not part of the rebellion developed a healthy cynicism about the rebels, the administration, the whole thing. Then we got on with out lives. When my son started at Harvard, I told him that after four years there, he should feel many emotions, and one of them should be exhaustion? from trying to partake of as much as he could at Harvard. The advice was drawn from experience. I majored in English, a good major for someone with my tastes. I directed plays, including "The Taming of the Shrew." I took courses from the so-called "great men" of the faculty like John Kenneth Galbraith, and from future greats like Stephen Jay Gould. I was tear-gassed, through no fault of my own. I worked as a research assistant for visiting history professors. I got food poisoning from an infamous tray of scalloped potatoes in the freshman union. I interviewed movie stars like James Stewart when they came to the Hasty Pudding, then wrote about them in the Harvard Independent. I tutored local kids in the Harvard Upward Bound program. I worked dorm crew and cleaned hundreds of toilets, including the one in Franklin D. Roosevelt's suite. I wrote an honors thesis in English about John Ford, a movie director. And I benefited from Harvard's generous financial aid policies. In the summers, I worked in the Boston construction industry, and I used to say that I learned more about life on a two-foot plank thirteen stories above Boston than I ever did at Harvard, but I don't think that's true. Harvard was more fun, and the place was good to me?. so good, in fact, that when I got married a year after graduation, my wife and I decided to have our reception in the courtyard of Kirkland House, the undergraduate residence where I'd lived. Then my wife and I headed west, tFrom Kirkus Reviews:
A big beach book is on the way with this sturdy, generation- spanning chronicle from Martin (Cape Cod, 1991, etc.), now telling the story of an archetypally American family bound to the US Navy and to its Maryland roots from colonial times to the present. From the start, the Staffords (who arrived in the New World in 1634) went down to the sea in ships and did business in great waters. Settling in both the Patuxent River Valley (to raise tobacco) and Annapolis, the tidewater family prospered. After the US gained independence, scions of the clan were blooded in the nascent Navy's campaign against Barbary Coast pirates and in action against British ships of the line during the War of 1812. Midshipman Jason Stafford survived these close encounters (as well as an idyllic stopover in the South Pacific's Marquesas Islands) to achieve high rank. During the Civil War, his sons served on Union gunboats and on Confederate raiders. Their largely male descendants went on to play supporting roles in the Spanish-American War, the founding of the Naval Academy, the Battle of Midway, and other turning-point events that marked America's emergence as a dominant naval power. Staffords also fought valiantly in the riverine jungles of Vietnam and, flying carrier-based attack planes, in the unfriendly skies over the Persian Gulf. Martin's long story is artfully kept within comprehensible limits by the latter-day activities of a maverick Stafford, liberal journalist Jack, who's writing a painfully detailed account of his family's odyssey, and by a distant cousin assigned to produce a PBS-TV special on the family. Their colloquies and inquiries provide continuity and perspective in a narrative whose serial protagonists are steeped in the tradition of doing violence with honor. A lively, engrossing saga that brings epic chapters of US history out of the archival hold into the bracing air of the quarterdeck. (Literary Guild and Doubleday alternate selection; author tour) -- Copyright ©1996, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.
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Book Description Vision, 1997. Mass Market Paperback. Book Condition: New. Bookseller Inventory # P110446604208
Book Description Vision, 1997. Mass Market Paperback. Book Condition: New. Bookseller Inventory # DADAX0446604208
Book Description Vision, 1997. Mass Market Paperback. Book Condition: New. book. Bookseller Inventory # 0446604208