This was an extremely powerful book. Ron Kovic is very able to get his point across
to the reader. He brings you throughout his life showing you, no. . . showing cannot describe the feeling adequately enough. He puts you into his life, when he goes through the trenches, you go with him. When he hits a home run for little league you can experience, not the joy it brought him at the time, but the pain in remembering that joy now that he can no longer do those things. When he makes love with a woman in mexico you can completely understand how stirring, meaningful and frightening the experience is for him.
This is a book about self discovery. From beginning to end, you see him struggling to survive life. He is constantly trying to be the best at everything. From the very start he was working out his arms trying to make himself bigger that way to make up for being to short. He joined the cub scouts with his friends and marched in the memorial day parade. He hit a home run his first time at bat in little league. When he grew he joined the wrestling team and constantly won first place in competition. When he lost, it was so emotional that he would cry. He would do anything to be first, even if it meant incredible agony.
The coaches made us do sit-ups, push-ups, and spinning drills until sweat poured down our faces and we were sure we'd pass out. "Wanting to win and wanting to be first, that's whatÔs important," the coaches told us. "Play fair, but play to win," they said. They worked us harder and harder until we thought we couldn't take it anymore and then they would yell and shout for us to keep going and drive past all the physical pain and discomfort. "More! More!" they screamed. "If you want to win, then you[Ôre going to have to work! You're going to have to drive your bodies far beyond what you think you can do. You've got to pay the price for victory! You can always go further than you think you can."
Kovic wanted so much to be a hero, to be all of his heroes rolled up in one. He would do anything to achieve that goal.
The way that Kovic writes this book makes it even more incredible. He jumps around in his life, telling you things in, what I believe is, their order of importance to him. He begins by describing to you the feeling of being shot and what is going on around him. You follow him through the sequence of being carried off the field, moved to a hospital, moved to another hospital. You can see him winning a medal of honor. He describes to you the other wounded soldiers around him, and while you feel for him, by taking a look around the room through his eyes you get a fuller picture of just how terrible this war was.
He then skip[s around through his childhood, his birthday on the fourth of July, playing with his friends. You can see just how good his life was. It was perfect, what most kids would dream of, but he never felt that he was good enough. He always thought he could do more and he could never talk to girls. So on his graduation from high school, still trying to be the big hero he joined the marines because they were the best.
You are in my platoon and if you people want to
be marines, y'all gonna
hafta work harder than you have ever worked before in your lives and you are gonna have to listen to me and you are gonna do everything I tell you to do if you want to get your asses off this island alive and become marines you better listen to me.
You can see the comparison with drill camp and the wrestling coach. He gives a whole chapter to the drill sergeant yelling at them. It is an incredible chapter, filled with do this and do that and grow up, be a man, mixed thoughts, confused feelings and fear. It's one of the most moving chapters in the book.
In everything he is confused about what to do next. While in the marines he could never decide if he wanted to go back home or stay. He...