Today’s Michigan notable book is The Father of All Things: A Marine, His Son, and the Legacy of Vietnam by Tom Bissell. Published by Pantheon Books, it is the tale of a son’s struggle to understand his father’s experiences in Vietnam. In the book, Bissell, native of Escanaba, documents his travels with his father John back to Vietnam. The book offers a fresh perspective on the war there and the impact it made on the children of Vietnam veterans and illustrates that wars never really end for soldiers or their children.
The book seems to have enjoyed considerable critical acclaim (Joe Klein’s New York Times review) with an appeal beyond what you might expect for a “war book.” On a site with a name that will probably get me banned in schools across Michigan, Sarah Statz writes:
One of my reading habits is to bookmark any page that contains beautiful writing, or that I want to re-read later, or which seems to me to sum up all that is glorious (or, in sadder cases, all that is lousy) about the book I’m reading. After reading Tom Bissell’s memoir/history/travelogue The Father of All Things: A Marine, His Son, and the Legacy of Vietnam, I found I had stuffed the book so full of these temporary markers that they proved almost as useful as a textbook in which an undergraduate has highlighted every sentence. It would, in fact, have been easier to mark pages I didn’t want to re-read later.
The Michigan Notable Books program annually selects 20 of the most notable books published in the year. The selections are reflective of Michigan’s diverse ethnic, historical, literary, and cultural experience. You can click to view more Notable Books featured on Absolute Michigan and learn more about the program at www.michigan.gov/notablebooks.