Desertion by Jack Todd
In the Time of Vietnam

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In 1969, Jack Todd was twenty-three and happy beyond his dreams. He had left behind a hardscrabble youth in a small Nebraska town, had an exciting and enviable job as a reporter on the Miami Herald, and was wildly in love with his beautiful Cuban-American girlfriend. As the war in Vietnam drew closer, he assumed that he would fight, as the men in his family had always fought, though he was increasingly troubled by America’s role there. His oldest friend had just returned from Vietnam and was already showing signs of the war-caused trauma that would destroy him; he had seen and done things too terrible to describe. He begged Jack to dodge the draft, to go to Canada. Nevertheless Jack entered the army and completed basic training. On leave before his departure for Vietnam, he agonized over a momentous decision. By now deeply opposed to the war, he crossed the border into Canada, leaving behind his family, the girl he loved — and his beloved homeland.
Now one of Canada’s most successful journalists, Jack Todd is a remarkable writer of great power and vibrancy. It has taken him thirty years to come to terms with the guilt and shame of desertion, to break the silence, to tell this controversial, important, profoundly American story. In a dark century, when many “only obeyed orders,” he chose not to. This is an intensely moving personal story told with passion and literary verve, as well as an eloquent account of a tortured time in American history. It is hard to put down, and impossible to forget.

About Jack Todd

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Jack Todd is one of Canada's most gifted and successful journalists. He lives in Montreal.
Published April 23, 2001 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 256 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, History, War. Non-fiction

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Most of them returned (voluntarily or otherwise) to the US to face punishment, but Todd renounced his citizenship and found himself on a very short list—numbering only 13 individuals—of deserters reckoned to be men without a country.

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Although he had been an antiwar activist in college, he couldn't bear the idea of going into exile to avoid the war and decided that he would serve, against the advice of his mother and his closest friend, Sonny, who had been traumatized by combat duty in Vietnam.

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