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Jerry Collins was emotionally scarred by “the good war” and failed to live up to the standards set for the men of his era. He found unlikely solace: Collins began confiding in his daughter about the war before she turned five. Drawing on her recollections and a suitcase of her father’s old letters and photographs, Julia Collins pieces together his experience during the war, his return home, and his subsequent descent — offering a new perspective on the men of “the greatest generation.” Photographs are included in this Book Sense 76 pick.
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Julia Collins has written for various magazines and newspapers, including the BOSTON GLOBE and the NEW YORK TIMES. She lives in Massachusetts.From Publishers Weekly:
Freelance writer Collins has written a poetic, haunting account of her father's experiences in WWII and their devastating impact on his family. In 1943, Jerry Collins, confident, idealistic and ambitious, left Yale's accelerated wartime program to serve in the elite Marine Corps. Stationed in Okinawa, he witnessed the burning of homes and villages, the pain of dying children and indiscriminate bombings by both sides. When he returned home three years later, wracked by survivor's guilt and nightmares, he had lost his dreams of becoming a chemist. He instead pursued the American dream by becoming a salesman, and failed wretchedly at it. His wife, distraught by her husband's limitations and infidelities, plunged into self-destructive bouts of alcoholism. Only the writer was privy to her father's private burdens; when she was still young, he began to share with her the psychic scars he carried as a survivor of war ("He had brought the war home, where it grew inside him, usurping part of his soul"). While Collins seems convinced that the family's travails can be traced back to her father's three years overseas, her supposition may be a bit simplistic. Jerry's wife emerges from the text as a disturbed, shallow ingrate who craves Coach handbags and Shalimar perfume. Would she have been all that different had her husband been a successful chemist? Nevertheless, the book is a powerful, moving and timely story of one family touched by "the good war's" collateral damage.
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.
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