(Semi)Local boy does good
All right, I may be stretching it a bit to call a writer from Escanaba, Michigan (in the UP) a "local" boy. He may not be a Wisconsinite, but he is from the Midwest. Close enough.
The author is question is Tom Bissell, who is rapidly becoming a rising star in both fiction and nonfiction. But the important thing to know here is that his new memoir, The Father of All Things: A Marine, His Son, and the Legacy of Vietnam, is one of the best books I've ever had the pleasure of reading.
Which is not to say it's a happy book. It is, in one volume, a brief history of the Vietnam War, most particularly the fall of Saigon in 1975; it is a travelogue of a Vietnam War veteran who returns to Vietnam in 2004 with his son; and it is a memoir of a son who is trying very hard to understand what the war did to his father, as well as to all of his father's subsequent relationships.
It's a beautiful book, and it is a thoughtful book. The line that stays with me is actually from the preface: "What any war’s igniters rarely admit are the small, terrible truths that have held firm for every war ever fought, no matter how necessary or avoidable: This will be horrible, and whatever happens will scar us for decades to come."