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The Magical Stranger

A Son's Journey into His Father's Life

Stephen Rodrick

This book is available for download with iBooks on your Mac or iOS device, and with iTunes on your computer. Books can be read with iBooks on your Mac or iOS device.

Description

On November 28, 1979, squadron commander and Navy pilot Peter Rodrick died when his plane crashed in the Indian Ocean. He was just thirty-six and had been the commanding officer of his squadron for 127 days. Eight thousand miles away on Whidbey Island, near Seattle, he left behind a grief-stricken wife, two daughters, and a thirteenyear-old son who would grow up to be a writer—one who was drawn, perhaps inevitably, to write about his father, his family, and the devastating consequences of military service.

In The Magical Stranger, Stephen Rodrick explores the life and death of the man who indelibly shaped his life, even as he remained a mystery: brilliant but unknowable, sacred but absent—an apparition gone 200 days of the year for much of his young son's life—a born leader who gave his son little direction. Through adolescence and into adulthood, Rodrick struggled to grasp fully the reality of his father's death and its permanence. Peter's picture and memory haunted the family home, but his name was rarely mentioned.

To better understand his father and his own experience growing up without him, Rodrick turned to today's members of his father's former squadron, spending nearly two years with VAQ-135, the "World-Famous Black Ravens." His travels take him around the world, from Okinawa and Hawaii to Bahrain and the Persian Gulf—but always back to Whidbey Island, the setting of his family's own story. As he learns more about his father, he also uncovers the layers of these sailors' lives: their brides and girlfriends, friendships, dreams, disappointments—and the consequences of their choices on those they leave behind.

A penetrating, thoughtful blend of memoir and reportage, The Magical Stranger is a moving reflection on the meaning of service and the power of a father's legacy.

Publishers Weekly Review

Mar 11, 2013 – Rodrick was 13 when his father’s EA-6B airplane crashed into the Indian Ocean. Though the crash was never officially explained by the Navy, Rodrick felt that his father, an accomplished pilot, was ultimately responsible. Driven to understand the man he knew all too briefly, Roderick embarked on a quest to better connect his father and his life in the Navy by spending a year and a half with members of his father’s former squadron aboard the USS Nimitz and ultimately going up in the same model his father flew. The result is an engaging and immersive look at the dynamics of military units and the dual lives servicemen and women lead, from the on-again off-again relationships military families lead between deployments to the intricacies, pranks, and mores of life on a ship, all viewed through a crisp journalistic lens that helps Rodrick separate myth from reality, including the stories told about his father’s death.
The Magical Stranger
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  • $10.99
  • Available on iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, and Mac.
  • Category: Biographies & Memoirs
  • Published: May 14, 2013
  • Publisher: Harper
  • Seller: HarperCollins
  • Print Length: 416 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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