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Our Fathers' War

Growing Up in the Shadow of the Greatest Generation

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A powerful and unique portrait of generational strife and changing styles of masculinity as seen through the stories of ten World War II veterans and their baby boomer sons.

It is fair to say that Tom Mathews’s relations with his father, a veteran of World War II’s fabled 10th Mountain Division, were terrible. He came back from the war to a young son he’d barely met and proceeded to bully and browbeat him—for his own good, he thought. In the course of puzzling out almost fifty years of intermittent conflict, Mathews came to understand that their problems were not simply personal, they were generational—and widely shared by millions of other baby boomer sons. And so, to write this powerful book, which traces the kinetic effect of the war on the men who fought it, their sons, and their grandsons, Mathews has uncovered nine other dramatic and telling father-son tales of veterans in some ways missing in action and how internal war wounds shaped their lives as fathers. These include a combat infantryman whose life was saved by the fabled Audie Murphy, and a black member of the storied Tuskegee Airmen corps. In a moving final chapter, he and his father return together to Italy to revisit scenes from the war—and attempt, at long last, to forge their own separate peace.
In a very real sense, Our Fathers’ War tells the secret history of World War II and its echoes down the years and generations. In the course of doing so, it offers a portrait of evolving styles of American manhood that many, many fathers and sons have been needing and awaiting.

Publishers Weekly Review

Apr 25, 2005 – After more than 30 years at Newsweek, where he served as New York bureau chief among other roles, Mathews (Hazardous Duty) turned to writing books, often centering his fiction and nonfiction around the military. His latest project finds him, at "a ridiculously old age," sorting through "steamer trunks" of baggage from an American childhood spent in the shadow of WWII and its aftermath. After an opening chapter that briskly and episodically tells the story of his childhood and struggles with a Greatest Generation father now in his 80s, Mathews, following the advice of an old song, musters nine other father-son dyads and devotes a chapter to each, telling their stories and using them to reflect and refract his relationship with his father, rekindled after years of dormancy. It's a conceit that works terrifically; Mathews avoids mawkishness by delving into his and his friends' unpredictable reactions to unexpected revelations, as the fathers upload material that has been waiting for an audience for decades. Anyone with an opaque-seeming father will find compelling the emotive core of this book—in which seeming tough guys manage to find and repair (though not without difficulty) a great deal of damage—and those who collect Greatest Generation lore will not be disappointed, either.
Our Fathers' War
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  • $12.99
  • Available on iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, and Mac.
  • Category: United States
  • Published: May 10, 2005
  • Publisher: Crown/Archetype
  • Seller: Random House, LLC
  • Print Length: 304 Pages
  • Language: English
  • Requirements: To view this book, you must have an iOS device with iBooks 1.3.1 or later and iOS 4.3.3 or later, or a Mac with iBooks 1.0 or later and OS X 10.9 or later.

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