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REVIEW: Class of ’68 by Michael Murphy

Dear Mr Murphy,

big_murphy-c68.jpgI didn’t graduate from high school until long after 1968 but I remember a little of what was going on then. I’ve found myself reading more and more about Vietnam though it’s usually accounts written by military personnel who served there. Your book shows me a little more of what was going on in this country and how it impacted the lives of the generation ahead of me.

Kevin Cooper’s high school senior year plans of sex, drugs and rock and roll are shattered by the arrival of his brother Tim’s first letter from Vietnam. In Vietnam, Tim struggles to survive and to forget his love for anti-war activist Sarah Johnson. The three people’s lives, and the lives of their families are forever changed by war, student unrest and political assassination.

First let me say the sections from Vietnam are riveting, intense and well done (even if understandly very violent). Those parts of the book made me think of and go back and watch a fantastic DVD called “Dear America: Letters Home from Vietnam.” The way Tim wouldn’t tell his parents the full horror of what he was dealing with while at the same time trying to let his brother know how combat was affecting him sounded straight out of some of the letters featured in it. How Tim slowly sunk into the 1000 mile stare Kevin saw in the one picture Tim sent home and how Tim and Jesse came to depend on each other is perfectly captured.

The parts featuring Kevin, Byron and Billie are good, especially about high school and Kevin and Billie’s budding relationship. I felt the “guy” kidding between Byron and Kevin is great. You handled Billie’s maturation into a young woman quite well and I had to laugh at Kevin suddenly changing from just Byron’s friend into a suitor who has to pass her father’s inspection before being allowd to take her out on dates.

The bits with Sarah initially felt awkward but smoothed out later on or maybe I just got used to your style. And the information about dodging the draft was fascinating. Sarah comes across as a bit of a naive do-gooder but maybe this is just me looking back with post-Watergate cynicism. I guess it’s just hard for me today to get excited about any politician and that’s a sad thing for America.

Though I’m too young to remember much about the events of 1968, I do remember the nightly counts delivered by Walter Cronkite and Roger Mudd on the CBS Evening News and the growing unease in the country. Thanks for showing me more of what was going on then and how it affected the whole country.

~Jayne

This book can be purchased at Fictionwise.com.

Another long time reader who read romance novels in her teens, then took a long break before started back again about 15 years ago. She enjoys historical romance/fiction best, likes contemporaries, action- adventure and mysteries, will read suspense if there's no TSTL characters and is currently reading very few paranormals.

7 Comments

  1. Keishon
    Sep 19, 2007 @ 18:53:18

    I must say that I appreciate you reviewing books that are under the radar. This does sound interesting with not a vampire in sight.

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  2. Ayalyn
    Sep 19, 2007 @ 18:54:50

    To bad the so called anti-war folks had to treat our troops like crap.
    Being called baby killers and spitting on them was a complete shame.

    These guys were drafted, to me the anti-war protesters were picking on the wrong people! Where was all the peace and love?

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  3. Jayne
    Sep 19, 2007 @ 19:16:11

    Keishon, gotta do my part to provide people with vampire free reviews!

    Ayalyn, I totally agree with you. To have survived the jungles for a year then come home to what they did was shameful.

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  4. Kay Webb Harrison
    Sep 19, 2007 @ 20:53:40

    I DID graduate from high school in 1968. I remember when an 11th grade classmate left school to go into the service; I never understood how a high school junior could be drafted.
    Attending the local commuter college in a military city, we didn’t have many war protests. We felt fortunate when our friends and relatives returned from Vietnam more or less in one piece. I DO remember the national newscasts and the casualty figures, in the thousands.
    The book sounds fine, but I don’t know if I want to read about what I lived through. I think that seeing a version in “Across the Universe” may be as much as I can handle.
    Kay

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  5. Donna
    Sep 20, 2007 @ 07:49:52

    I graduated in 1970, my brother in 1967… needless to say he went to Vietnam. Fortunately he also came home alive and well but so many didn’t.

    A few years ago there was a TV series about that area I can't remember the name of it. Trying to watch it I found out that I cannot go back. It was a time to live through, I cannot relive it. I was anti war, anti Vietnam, but NOT anti American soldiers. Both the soldiers and the protesters were put into a place that no one wants to go again. It is hard to explain to anyone who has not lived through it. Seeing metal boxes coming off of planes knowing they were our boys in them… the memories still brings tears to my eyes. There were so many of them…

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  6. Jayne
    Sep 20, 2007 @ 08:04:02

    Donna are you thinking of “China Beach” or “Tour of Duty,” or “The Wonder Years?”” This era and this war still seem to cause such pain that I can understand not wanting to relive it. I’m glad your brother made it home.

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  7. Donna
    Sep 20, 2007 @ 08:14:03

    Jayne,

    Found it… the show was called “American Dreams”. It wasn’t so much about the war as about the whole time period. I was surprised that I could not watch it.

    ReplyReply

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