Rites of Passage
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Rites of Passage
by Robert "Bullet" Peterson
Thirty years ago, Robert "Bullet" Peterson and thousands of other young American men were sent to the jungles of Vietnam to fight one of the most frustrating wars in our history. At home, other young people protested the war. In Vietnam, their counterparts were most concerned about returning home safely.
Robert Peterson died in his wife's arms in 1994. A paraplegic as a result of his war wounds, Peterson's death culminated a quarter century of remarkable successes and disheartening struggle as he tried to cope with unshakable combat experiences.
He served a decade as village president of a place appropriately called Soldier's Grove, Wis. At the same time, he found addiction to prescription medicine and the haunting effects of post-traumatic stress disorder.
Many books have been written about the Vietnam experience, but none approaches the intensity and vivid description of Rites of Passage. For those who were there, the book is likely to trigger memories both painful and pleasurable. For those who didn't go, we stand alongside Peterson as he dodges sniper fire or suffers the loss of a treasured comrade.
Like Stephen Crane's classic Red Badge of Courage, Rites of Passage captures the horror of battle as well as the uncertainty of young men on the front lines in an unpopular war, facing death daily as word filtered back to them that many people at home weren't supportive.
Here's what Michael E. Stevens, editor of Voices from Vietnam, says about Rites of Passage:
"Of the many memoirs to emerge from the Vietnam War, Rites of Passage is one of the best. Bob Peterson's powerful account of his year in-country makes vivid the smells, sounds, textures and feelings he encountered while fighting a war he had grown to hate. This frank, emotionally charged book should be required reading for anyone who wants to understand America's longest war."