A Marine's searing and intimate story—"A passionate, fascinating, and deeply humane memoir of both war and of the hard work of citizenship and healing in war’s aftermath. A superb addition to our understanding of the Vietnam War, and of its lessons” (Phil Klay, author of Redeployment).
John Musgrave had a small-town midwestern childhood that embodied the idealized postwar America. Service, patriotism, faith, and civic pride were the values that guided his family and community, and like nearly all the boys he knew, Musgrave grew up looking forward to the day when he could enlist to serve his country as his father had done. There was no question in Musgrave’s mind: He was going to join the legendary Marine Corps as soon as he was eligible. In February of 1966, at age seventeen, during his senior year in high school, and with the Vietnam War already raging, he walked down to the local recruiting station, signed up, and set off for three years that would permanently reshape his life.
In this electrifying memoir, he renders his wartime experience with a powerful intimacy and immediacy: from the rude awakening of boot camp, to daily life in the Vietnam jungle, to a chest injury that very nearly killed him. Musgrave also vividly describes the difficulty of returning home to a society rife with antiwar sentiment, his own survivor's guilt, and the slow realization that he and his fellow veterans had been betrayed by the government they served. And he recounts how, ultimately, he found peace among his fellow veterans working to end the war. Musgrave writes honestly about his struggle to balance his deep love for the Marine Corps against his responsibility as a citizen to protect the very troops asked to protect America at all costs. Fiercely perceptive and candid, The Education of Corporal John Musgrave is one of the most powerful memoirs to emerge from the war.