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Acclaimed journalist Robert Timberg's extraordinary, long-awaited memoir of his struggle to reclaim his life and find his calling after being severely burned as a young Marine lieutenant in Vietnam In January 1967, Robert Timberg was a short-timer, counting down the days until his combat tour ended. He had thirteen days to go before he got to go back home to his wife in Southern California. That homecoming would eventually happen, but not in thirteen days, and not as the person he once was. The moment his vehicle struck a Vietcong land mine divided his life into before and after. He survived, barely, with third-degree burns over his face and much of his body. It would have been easy to give up. Instead, Robert Timberg began an arduous and uncertain struggle back--not just to physical recovery, but to a life of meaning. Remarkable as his return to health was--he endured thirty-five operations, one without anesthesia--just as remarkable was his decision to reinvent himself as a journalist and enter one of the most public of professions. Blue-Eyed Boy is a gripping, occasionally comic account of what it took for an ambitious man, aware of his frightful appearance but hungry for meaning and accomplishment, to master a new craft amid the pitying stares and shocked reactions of many he encountered on a daily basis. By the 1980s, Timberg had moved into the upper ranks of his profession, having secured a prestigious Nieman Fellowship at Harvard and a job as White House correspondent for The Baltimore Sun. Suddenly his work brought his life full circle: the Iran-Contra scandal broke. At its heart were three fellow Naval Academy graduates and Vietnam-era veterans, Oliver North, Bud McFarlane, and John Poindexter. Timberg's coverage of that story resulted in his first book, The Nightingale's Song, a powerful work of narrative nonfiction that follows these three academy graduates and two others--John McCain and Jim Webb--from Annapolis through Vietnam and into the Reagan years. In Blue-Eyed Boy, Timberg relates how he came to know and develop a deep understanding of these five men, and how their stories helped him understand the ways the Vietnam War and the furor that swirled around it continued to haunt him, and the nation as a whole, as they still do even now, nearly four decades after its dismal conclusion. Like others of his generation, Robert Timberg had to travel an unexpectedly hard and at times bitter road. In facing his own life with the same tools of wisdom, human empathy, and storytelling grit he has always brought to his journalism, he has produced one of the most moving and important memoirs of our time.
Robert Timberg, an award-winning Washington journalist, is a 1964 U. S. Naval Academy graduate and a Marine veteran of the Vietnam war. He was The Baltimore Sun's White House correspondent during the Reagan presidency.
A terrific book about courage and cowardice, honor and betrayal, suffering and death, and the indomitability of the human spirit.
In his unflinching and riveting The Nightingale's Song, Timberg chronicled a nation haunted by the war and its corrosive aftermath. Now, in State of Grace, the author rediscovers an earlier time and an America now largely lost. Using the New York City sandlot football team he played for after high school as a rich metaphor for what was best about that bygone era, Timberg evokes the period in fine detail and vivid color. It was a world of girls, beer and the proverbial Big Game, but it also was defined by faith in tradition and institutions, including a still unsullied Catholic Church. State of Grace captures life on the threshold of Kennedy's Camelot, before the Beatles, before the Pill, but in the ever-expanding shadow of Vietnam, "a time when the path to an honorable future seemed as straightforward as playing hard, hitting clean, and not fumbling the ball." The tale is told through Timberg's own eyes as he moves from troubled youth to man, from running back on a team called the Lynvets to Naval Academy plebe to Marine officer. The story is also told through a collection of other characters, including a genius of a coach overmatched when off the field, a driven quarterback sidetracked by booze and an angry loner fresh from the army stockade who reclaims his life on the gridiron. As Timberg writes, the team was where he and his fellow Lynvets "found a toe-hold on our better selves during a troubled time in our lives. Those snatches of pride and courage and strength we shared...eventually grew within us, becoming the core of a decent manhood that might have easily eluded any one of us in other circumstances. There were times, for each of us, when it was all we had."
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