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Blue-Eyed Boy: A Memoir

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Acclaimed journalist Robert Timberg’s extraordinary, long-awaited memoir of his struggle to reclaim his life and find his calling after being severely burned as a young Marine lieutenant in Vietnam In January 1967, Robert Timberg was a short-timer, counting down the days until his combat tour ended. He had thirteen days to go before he got to go back home to his wife in Sou Acclaimed journalist Robert Timberg’s extraordinary, long-awaited memoir of his struggle to reclaim his life and find his calling after being severely burned as a young Marine lieutenant in Vietnam In January 1967, Robert Timberg was a short-timer, counting down the days until his combat tour ended. He had thirteen days to go before he got to go back home to his wife in Southern California. That homecoming would eventually happen, but not in thirteen days, and not as the person he once was. The moment his vehicle struck a Vietcong land mine divided his life into before and after. He survived, barely, with third-degree burns over his face and much of his body.  It would have been easy to give up.  Instead, Robert Timberg began an arduous and uncertain struggle back—not just to physical recovery, but to a life of meaning.  Remarkable as his return to health was—he endured thirty-five operations, one without anesthesia—just as remarkable was his decision to reinvent himself as a journalist and enter one of the most public of professions. Blue-Eyed Boy is a gripping, occasionally comic account of what it took for an ambitious man, aware of his frightful appearance but hungry for meaning and accomplishment, to master a new craft amid the pitying stares and shocked reactions of many he encountered on a daily basis. By the 1980s, Timberg had moved into the upper ranks of his profession, having secured a prestigious Nieman Fellowship at Harvard and a job as White House correspondent for The Baltimore Sun. Suddenly his work brought his life full circle: the Iran-Contra scandal broke. At its heart were three fellow Naval Academy graduates and Vietnam-era veterans, Oliver North, Bud McFarlane, and John Poindexter. Timberg’s coverage of that story resulted in his first book, The Nightingale’s Song, a powerful work of narrative nonfiction that follows these three academy graduates and two others—John McCain and Jim Webb—from Annapolis through Vietnam and into the Reagan years. In Blue-Eyed Boy, Timberg relates how he came to know and develop a deep understanding of these five men, and how their stories helped him understand the ways the Vietnam War and the furor that swirled around it continued to haunt him, and the nation as a whole, as they still do even now, nearly four decades after its dismal conclusion. Like others of his generation, Robert Timberg had to travel an unexpectedly hard and at times bitter road. In facing his own life with the same tools of wisdom, human empathy, and storytelling grit he has always brought to his journalism, he has produced one of the most moving and important memoirs of our time.


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Acclaimed journalist Robert Timberg’s extraordinary, long-awaited memoir of his struggle to reclaim his life and find his calling after being severely burned as a young Marine lieutenant in Vietnam In January 1967, Robert Timberg was a short-timer, counting down the days until his combat tour ended. He had thirteen days to go before he got to go back home to his wife in Sou Acclaimed journalist Robert Timberg’s extraordinary, long-awaited memoir of his struggle to reclaim his life and find his calling after being severely burned as a young Marine lieutenant in Vietnam In January 1967, Robert Timberg was a short-timer, counting down the days until his combat tour ended. He had thirteen days to go before he got to go back home to his wife in Southern California. That homecoming would eventually happen, but not in thirteen days, and not as the person he once was. The moment his vehicle struck a Vietcong land mine divided his life into before and after. He survived, barely, with third-degree burns over his face and much of his body.  It would have been easy to give up.  Instead, Robert Timberg began an arduous and uncertain struggle back—not just to physical recovery, but to a life of meaning.  Remarkable as his return to health was—he endured thirty-five operations, one without anesthesia—just as remarkable was his decision to reinvent himself as a journalist and enter one of the most public of professions. Blue-Eyed Boy is a gripping, occasionally comic account of what it took for an ambitious man, aware of his frightful appearance but hungry for meaning and accomplishment, to master a new craft amid the pitying stares and shocked reactions of many he encountered on a daily basis. By the 1980s, Timberg had moved into the upper ranks of his profession, having secured a prestigious Nieman Fellowship at Harvard and a job as White House correspondent for The Baltimore Sun. Suddenly his work brought his life full circle: the Iran-Contra scandal broke. At its heart were three fellow Naval Academy graduates and Vietnam-era veterans, Oliver North, Bud McFarlane, and John Poindexter. Timberg’s coverage of that story resulted in his first book, The Nightingale’s Song, a powerful work of narrative nonfiction that follows these three academy graduates and two others—John McCain and Jim Webb—from Annapolis through Vietnam and into the Reagan years. In Blue-Eyed Boy, Timberg relates how he came to know and develop a deep understanding of these five men, and how their stories helped him understand the ways the Vietnam War and the furor that swirled around it continued to haunt him, and the nation as a whole, as they still do even now, nearly four decades after its dismal conclusion. Like others of his generation, Robert Timberg had to travel an unexpectedly hard and at times bitter road. In facing his own life with the same tools of wisdom, human empathy, and storytelling grit he has always brought to his journalism, he has produced one of the most moving and important memoirs of our time.

30 review for Blue-Eyed Boy: A Memoir

  1. 5 out of 5

    Steven Z.

    As most are aware the Vietnam War has left many scars on those who fought the war and the American people in general. With 58,000 men dead and roughly 270,000 wounded, many like the author, Robert Timberg suffered life changing injuries that affect them psychologically and physically to this day. Mr. Timberg, a graduate of the United States Naval Academy, and a Marine Corps officer suffered second and third degree burns to his face and parts of his body on January 18, 1967 when his armored vehic As most are aware the Vietnam War has left many scars on those who fought the war and the American people in general. With 58,000 men dead and roughly 270,000 wounded, many like the author, Robert Timberg suffered life changing injuries that affect them psychologically and physically to this day. Mr. Timberg, a graduate of the United States Naval Academy, and a Marine Corps officer suffered second and third degree burns to his face and parts of his body on January 18, 1967 when his armored vehicle went over a North Vietnamese land mine in the vicinity of Da Dang, just thirteen days before he was to be cycled out of the war theater as his thirteen month tour was drawing to a close. Mr. Timberg has written a long delayed memoir dealing with his experiences in Vietnam, his recovery, and his career which was a major component in trying to recapture some sort of normality. The book, BLUE-EYED BOY: A MEMOIR is written on multiple levels. It is an emotionally captivating story by an individual who wages a courageous battle to regain some semblance of what he lost on that fateful day when delivering a payroll to another unit his vehicle hit a land mine. The book is also a personal journey that takes him through numerous hospitals and thirty five operations with the support of two wonderful women, his first wife, Janie, who Timberg credits for his level of recovery and the family and career he is most proud of. He readily admits that he was responsible for the end of their marriage and how poorly he treated her. The other woman, his second wife, Kelly, allowed him to continue his recovery and develop a successful journalism career. Unfortunately for Timberg, they too could not keep their marriage together. The last major thread is how Timberg repeatedly lashes out against those individuals that did not go to Vietnam and as he states found, “legal and illegal ways” to avoid doing their duties as Americans. Despite repeated denials that he is past those negative feelings and no matter how much he pushes his bitterness below the surface employing the correct verbiage of an excellent writer, his ill feelings towards a good part of his generation repeatedly bubbles to the surface. This memoir is very timely in light of the type of injuries that American soldiers have sustained in Iraq and Afghanistan for the last twelve years. It brings a message of hope for the future based on Timberg’s remarkable recovery and the success he has enjoyed as a reporter and a writer. Our wounded veterans face a long road to recovery and Timberg’s story could be a wonderful model that they can try to emulate. The first two-thirds of the book for me were the most interesting. Timberg lays his life out for all to see. His emotions which seemed to rise and fall with each sunrise and sunset are heart rendering. His descriptions of his treatment with multiple skin grafts and surgeries are a testament to his perseverance. His tenacity and ability to overcome most of the obstacles that were placed in front of him are truly amazing. We learn a great deal about the Naval Academy and the United States Marine Corps and what they stand for. Timberg takes the reader through many stages of recovery by interspersing his relationships with those who are most responsible for his making him whole, his first wife, Janie, and Dr. Lynn Ketchum, the surgeon who like a sculptor put Timberg’s facial features back together as best he could. Despite his recovery, throughout this period his loss of identity constantly tugged at him, even as he earned the satisfaction of a successful career, but the loss of identity seemed to always be under the surface. Once Timberg reaches the end of his period of recovery, he must leave “the cocoon of the hospital to home cycle” of constantly undergoing surgery and recovery. For Timberg it was very difficult, but finally with Janie’s assistance he is able to overcome his fears and earn a Master’s Degree in Journalism at Stanford University and begin his career as a reporter in Annapolis. That career would lead to a Nieman Fellowship, positions at the Baltimore Evening Standard, and the Baltimore Sun. Timberg became a leading White House correspondent, and the author of three very important books. The one area of the book I have difficulty accepting is the sections that deal with the germination of the ideas for the book THE NIGHTENGALE’S SONG, and how the book was finally conceived and reached fruition. It was fascinating how Timberg pulled together such disparate personalities as John McCain, James Webb, John Poindexter, Robert McFarlane, and Oliver North to create narrative dynamic that made sense. What sparked this dynamic was the Iran-Contra scandal that rocked President Reagan’s second term in office. Timberg was able to parlay the scandal and the personalities just mentioned into a coherent and interesting monograph. I remember when the book was published and after reading it I wondered if Timberg had an agenda that called for damning those who were able to avoid serving in Vietnam, and blaming the prosecution of the Iran-Contra scandal on the media and members of Congress who figured out ways to remain out of the military during the war. Timberg’s judgment is deeply flawed in attacking, what seems to be everyone who did not fight in Vietnam for pursuing the Iran-Contra scandal. I understand that he suffered unbelievable horrors as a result of his military service and significant emotional issues remain. However, his inner drive to become the person he was before he was seriously wounded has clouded his judgment to the point where he deeply hurt, Janie, his first wife, the woman who was mostly responsible for making himself whole as he recovered. His comments dealing with the need to find another woman to have sex with aside from his wife to see if he could find another person who was attracted to him is deeply troublesome. It was thoughts like this and leaving her alone with three children for a great deal of time reflects poorly on Timberg no matter how courageous he was. As Timberg researches and writes THE NIGHTENGALE’S SONG, his obsession with those who did not fight in Vietnam comes to the fore completely. Though there are repeated denials in the book his understandable prejudice against “draft dodgers,” etc. is readily apparent, i.e., his convoluted logic of going after people who believe that Iran-Contra was a major crime and resulted in violation of the constitutional and legislative prerogatives of Congress, aside from the cover-up and outright lying the of the Reagan administration with a vengeance. By explaining away the scandal by raising the question; “was Iran-Contra the bill for Vietnam finally coming due?” for me, is a bit much and cannot explain away the illegal acts that North, Poindexter, and McFarlane committed no matter how hard Timberg tries. For the author it seems like everyone who did not go to Vietnam used money and connections to avoid serving. Further, those who did not serve, “much of the rest of that generation came up with novel ways to leave the fighting and dying to others.”(213) Timberg quotes from Lawrence M. Baskir and William A. Srauss’ excellent analysis of the draft, CHANCE AND CIRCUMSTANCE to buttress his arguments, however if he revisits objectively the Pentagon statistics that the authors quote he will find that not all who did not serve in Vietnam committed acts that Timberg finds reprehensible There are millions who were involved in defense related jobs, duty in the United State Army Reserves and the National Guard, had legitimate medical deferments, or were conscientious objectors. I agree a significant numbers did avoid service and Baskir and Strauss put the number of draft offenders at about 570,000, accused draft offenders at 209, 517, with about 3250 actually imprisoned. We must also keep in mind that of the 26,800,000 men of the Vietnam generation, 6,465,000 served but never went to Southeast Asia, and of the 15,980,000 who never served in the military 15,410,000 were deferred, exempted or disqualified -all cannot be painted with the broad brush of being draft dodgers as Timberg seems to strongly intimate.* Overall, Timberg is correct, Vietnam is still a raw nerve for a generation that witnessed men rallying to the flag, and men who felt the war was wrong. As history has borne out the American people were lied to by the Johnson administration and the government in general. I respect Mr. Timberg’s service, the wonderful career he used as a vehicle to become whole again, and I find that he is an exceptional author, who at times goes a bit overboard in his attempt to rationalize why people avoided service in the war. The book is a superb read, deeply emotional and for my generation dredges up a great deal and provokes deep thought concerning how the experience of the Vietnam War still affects American foreign policy and the conduct of combat to this day. *See Lawrence M. Baskir & William A. Strauss CHANCE AND CIRCUMSTANCE. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1978, p. 5 for an excellent chart that is reflected in the figures presented.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Washington Post

    “Blue-Eyed Boy” is a fierce and enthralling memoir by Vietnam veteran and career journalist Robert Timberg. It recounts his recovery from severe injuries, sustained when his truck hit a Viet Cong land mine. Third-degree burns covered much of his face, and “what remained looked like steak before you throw it on the grill,” he writes. At its core “Blue-Eyed Boy” is the story of a man who fought, fought like hell — first for survival, then for a life. Read our review here:

  3. 5 out of 5

    Ed

    Memoirs are somewhat of a diversion for me but Robert Timberg occupies a special author category for me. Lt. Robert Timberg, a 23 year old Annapolis graduate and Marine officer, was 13 days away from concluding his 13th month tour in Viet Nam when the Am Trac he was riding on hit a VC land mine. He survived but suffered hideously disfiguring burns. This book is the story of the courage and determination he endured both physically and physiologically to just survive and the people in his life tha Memoirs are somewhat of a diversion for me but Robert Timberg occupies a special author category for me. Lt. Robert Timberg, a 23 year old Annapolis graduate and Marine officer, was 13 days away from concluding his 13th month tour in Viet Nam when the Am Trac he was riding on hit a VC land mine. He survived but suffered hideously disfiguring burns. This book is the story of the courage and determination he endured both physically and physiologically to just survive and the people in his life that guided him through his incredibly painful days, months and years of plastic surgical operations to follow. His bride of only 6 months when he shipped to Viet Nam actually followed him to the VA hospital in Japan to help provide support with his hospital care and later advised him to salvage his young life by going to graduate school at Stanford to study Journalism. He subsequently enjoyed a long and productive career writing for the Baltimore Sun while winning the prestigious Nieman fellowship for Journalism at Harvard along the way. I first became interested in Robert Timberg when I read his ground breaking book "The Nightingale's Song" about the roles of John Poindexter, Bud McFarland, Oliver North, Jim Webb and John McCain as they related to Ronald Reagan's Iran-Contra "arms for hostage" controversy. It occurred to Timberg that there was a lynch mob mentality by using these honorable Annapolis grads, who stepped up and defended their country in time of war, to attack a popular president. "The Nightingale's Song" addressed those questions and used the five aforementioned Annapolis grads as a metaphor for all Viet Nam veteran so often viciously maligned by the liberal media at that time. As a Marine Viet Nam veteran myself (1969-70), I can very personally relate to what Robert Timberg so brilliantly expressed in "The Nightingale's Song". Being a Marine was the best decision I ever made and the people I served with in Viet Nam were some of the finest people I've ever known before or since. I hold those men in my highest regard for how they acquitted themselves in the combat zone and the subsequent reintegration difficulties experienced coming home. Home, the dreamed about destination for all American troops in Viet Nam until rudely welcomed by an ungrateful, sometimes hostile reception by those of our peers who avoided military service with bogus deferments, relocation's to Canada, etc. But....I digress. Approaching age 70, Robert Timberg has lead an honorable and courageous life well worth reading about. I highly recommend it.........Ed

  4. 4 out of 5

    Jane Thayer

    - This is truly a book that I chose because of the cover and title. It is excellent. Because his jeep ran over a land mine in Vietnam, Bob Timberg sustained extreme wounds and permanent scarring on his face. He is accepted into Stanford University and earns a master's degree in journalism. He becomes a very successful reporter, journalist, and author. The appearance of his disfigured face haunts him his entire life. This is an excellent book. - This is truly a book that I chose because of the cover and title. It is excellent. Because his jeep ran over a land mine in Vietnam, Bob Timberg sustained extreme wounds and permanent scarring on his face. He is accepted into Stanford University and earns a master's degree in journalism. He becomes a very successful reporter, journalist, and author. The appearance of his disfigured face haunts him his entire life. This is an excellent book.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Tony Taylor

    Bob Timberg is just one of those writers who never misses... whatever he writes about is captivating and superbly written. For anyone who knows his name, he will always be remembered for his first book, a masterpiece: "The Nightingale's Song," a nationally acclaimed story of the Iran-Contra scandal that happened during his tenure as the White House correspondent for the Baltimore Sun during the Reagan years. I have the privilege of knowing Bob as a Naval Academy classmate... we often shared clas Bob Timberg is just one of those writers who never misses... whatever he writes about is captivating and superbly written. For anyone who knows his name, he will always be remembered for his first book, a masterpiece: "The Nightingale's Song," a nationally acclaimed story of the Iran-Contra scandal that happened during his tenure as the White House correspondent for the Baltimore Sun during the Reagan years. I have the privilege of knowing Bob as a Naval Academy classmate... we often shared classes together. After graduation Bob became a Marine and I went Navy, but even though we never ran into one another during our service, we both served in Vietnam at the same time both in Danang and Chu Lai. There the similarity ends. At a time when I most likely was on patrol on my Swift Boat, Bob was on a tracked amphibious vehicle heading up a road just south of Danang when his vehicle hit a roadside mine and he was seriously burned with third-degree burns over his face. In the intervening years Bob and I have met from time to time, mostly at reunions or other Naval Academy functions, but as anyone knows who saw Bob during those years after Vietnam, he was not recognizable as the classmate we knew at Annapolis. We all pretty much knew what had happened to Bob when he was injured in Vietnam, but until now we did not really know the story behind his tragic injuries. With his latest book, "Blue-Eyed Boy," Bob has written a masterly memoir about what happened that fateful day in January 1967, and the story of his recovery, including 35 operations, one without anesthesia. But as is so often the case, the recovery included more than years of plastic surgery, but also months and years of emotional and psychological recovery with the support of his young wife who became a mainstay in his life as he struggled to figure out what he was going to do in the years to come. Fortunately Bob, with the encouragement of his bride, chose a path to become a newspaper writer of renown. He had a lot to learn about being a reporter as well as learning how to deal with his self consciousness regarding the burn scars on his face. But Bob is tough, he is smart, he is resourceful, and he became an outstanding writer not only as a reporter, but also as the author of four books. As I posted on Bob's Facebook page, nothing got done for two days while I read and absorbed this tale of utmost honesty, determination, and personal bravery. To Bob, I salute you in life and in the service. "Blue-Eyed Boy" is an exceptional read as Bob Timberg opens up the book of his life in a manner that few of us have the guts to do. Read his memoir and you may find yourself exploring the footlocker of your own life.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Nancy Kennedy

    Robert Timberg, a Marine and Naval Academy graduate, was 13 days from finishing his year-long tour in Vietnam and returning home to his bride. On a day when he was supposed to be on R&R shopping for souvenirs, he instead took the place of a fellow Marine in a convoy bringing paychecks to a company deep in the boonies. On the way, the Amtrac he was riding in rolled over a land mine and exploded in a fireball that charred Mr. Timberg's face, neck and arms. Mr. Timberg was scarred in a horrible way Robert Timberg, a Marine and Naval Academy graduate, was 13 days from finishing his year-long tour in Vietnam and returning home to his bride. On a day when he was supposed to be on R&R shopping for souvenirs, he instead took the place of a fellow Marine in a convoy bringing paychecks to a company deep in the boonies. On the way, the Amtrac he was riding in rolled over a land mine and exploded in a fireball that charred Mr. Timberg's face, neck and arms. Mr. Timberg was scarred in a horrible way for life, despite the thirty-five surgeries he endured in the aftermath. In this memoir, Mr. Timberg describes his journey through the realities of his disfigurement, his wrecked self, and his search for significance in his new life. Fortunately, he stumbles on the idea of becoming a journalist, though he'd never written anything for publication in his life. His natural curiosity and delight at finding that he is good at the job of reporting help him overcome his reluctance to face the world. Mr. Timberg's enthusiasm for his work makes great reading for those like me who love the journalistic world. At the scene of his first assignment for a small Annapolis daily -- a bridge suicide -- he finds himself so immersed in his work that for the first time he forgets his appearance. "I didn't care how spooked they looked when I first approached them; I just wanted them to tell me what they'd seen and heard," he writes. It was in that moment, he realizes later, that he was transformed "from victim to something else." This one-time victim becomes an esteemed reporter and editor for the Baltimore Sun. As I began to reach the end of the book, when the narrative switches from Mr. Timberg's personal story to the writing of his first book, The Nightingale's Song, I thought the narrative drive of this book dissipated somewhat. Otherwise, this is a riveting book that avoids the cliche of "good war" vs. "bad war" by focusing on one man's experience.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Jeanette

    Good read. The honest tale of his wartime service and his years of surgeries to repair his face from his Vietnam burn was 4 star. And I appreciate all the details of his journalistic and D.C. gigs. He loses a star in his ego rants (although coming from that exact era myself and a military spouse at that once upon a time) which set the second half of the book off toward a tenser angle than it needed to take. But that's a jarhead- just like my brother. And he does seem honest about the temperament Good read. The honest tale of his wartime service and his years of surgeries to repair his face from his Vietnam burn was 4 star. And I appreciate all the details of his journalistic and D.C. gigs. He loses a star in his ego rants (although coming from that exact era myself and a military spouse at that once upon a time) which set the second half of the book off toward a tenser angle than it needed to take. But that's a jarhead- just like my brother. And he does seem honest about the temperament. Sempre fi. The writing itself is clear and direct, easy read. One of my pet peeves is an overabundance of name dropping. This lost the other star for me in that name being McCain's so often. It's probably not fair, because he was so involved within the process of this book writing. Just don't like an author writing about the book writing. Just write the book already. And mentioning your mentor once or twice without gushing is sufficient. Glad he had that ego though, because he needs it. Admirable to be able to do his job and have his contact with his terrible physical disability. It didn't stop him.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Chris

    I enjoyed Timberg's book, "The Nightengale's Song," and this memoir doesn't disappoint either. I have some things in common with him: USNA graduate and Marine officer and perhaps a desire to be journalistic-like. But that's where it ends. He was only 13 days away from completing his tour in Vietnam when on a simple admin errand to pay the troops his vehicle struck a mine and his life was forever changed. This is candid and confessional up to a point. Timberg sounds like a difficult man to live w I enjoyed Timberg's book, "The Nightengale's Song," and this memoir doesn't disappoint either. I have some things in common with him: USNA graduate and Marine officer and perhaps a desire to be journalistic-like. But that's where it ends. He was only 13 days away from completing his tour in Vietnam when on a simple admin errand to pay the troops his vehicle struck a mine and his life was forever changed. This is candid and confessional up to a point. Timberg sounds like a difficult man to live with as he fought his demons. He owns up to bad behavior and bears his soul throughout while still keeping some secrets to himself. He is now twice divorced and gets along fabuously with his ex-wives and his children. I wish him the best and hope he has some more books to produce as he is objective while being passionate.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Janie Anderson

    Well written memoir from a man who saw the side of the Vietnam War I was too young (and female) to be involved with. While I marched in the war protests, Mr Timberg was serving his country and as a result had his life permanently changed. Reading this book today, as an older and wiser woman, I can see that my view of our soldiers serving in Vietnam was pretty accurate. For the most part, they were where they wanted to be, serving our country. For the record, I was never against the men who chose Well written memoir from a man who saw the side of the Vietnam War I was too young (and female) to be involved with. While I marched in the war protests, Mr Timberg was serving his country and as a result had his life permanently changed. Reading this book today, as an older and wiser woman, I can see that my view of our soldiers serving in Vietnam was pretty accurate. For the most part, they were where they wanted to be, serving our country. For the record, I was never against the men who chose to or who were chosen to serve in Vietnam. My opinion of our government and how they handled this “conflict” is a topic for another time and place. If you want to know what it’s like to put your life on the line, read this book where a life is almost lost and where nothing after the war is the same. But then, life is usually never the same for any of these that have been in a war.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Susan

    I met Robert Timberg when I was a little girl about 6-8 years old, sitting in my father's insurance office playing secretary. It was after he had returned from Vietnam but before his many surgeries were completed. I had no idea who he was or that dad had told him to drop by. I'm glad that I was raised so that I greeted him warmly, but looking back I'm sure my eyes betrayed me as I'd never seen anyone with such deep and complete scarring. His calm and outward dignity made quite an impression on m I met Robert Timberg when I was a little girl about 6-8 years old, sitting in my father's insurance office playing secretary. It was after he had returned from Vietnam but before his many surgeries were completed. I had no idea who he was or that dad had told him to drop by. I'm glad that I was raised so that I greeted him warmly, but looking back I'm sure my eyes betrayed me as I'd never seen anyone with such deep and complete scarring. His calm and outward dignity made quite an impression on me. I am grateful for his service, and I admire his courage in going forward and making a life after the tragedy that was his war experience. When I saw he'd written a memoir I had to get it and read it.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Geneva Benoit

    Well written -- as anything by Timberg is. But I think it's an example of why David Halberstam said historians should not write autobiographies. I learned too much. One of my lifetime favorite books is The Nightingale's Song by Timberg. I learned that the title (which is also the thesis) was suggested by his second wife. I didn't need to know it wasn't his original thought or that he had a second wife. Still, his has been an extraordinary life, changed suddenly by his disfiguring injury in Vietn Well written -- as anything by Timberg is. But I think it's an example of why David Halberstam said historians should not write autobiographies. I learned too much. One of my lifetime favorite books is The Nightingale's Song by Timberg. I learned that the title (which is also the thesis) was suggested by his second wife. I didn't need to know it wasn't his original thought or that he had a second wife. Still, his has been an extraordinary life, changed suddenly by his disfiguring injury in Vietnam.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Chandra Boulden

    The beginning was a slow roll, somewhere in the middle when he was speaking about his time in Vietnam and his recovery was very intriguing. The last third about writing his other book was writing about what I'm going to write about. I don't enjoy reading summaries, lots of name dropping. The beginning was a slow roll, somewhere in the middle when he was speaking about his time in Vietnam and his recovery was very intriguing. The last third about writing his other book was writing about what I'm going to write about. I don't enjoy reading summaries, lots of name dropping.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Kimberly

    Gained an appreciation of the struggles and successes of the author, an injured veteran and burn victim, the latter a subject about which I knew little beforehand. Honest in his approach.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Kathy ONeill

    Loved!

  15. 4 out of 5

    Celia Crotteau

    I didn't particularly enjoy this book, but it gripped me for personal reasons. First, I served as a Navy nurse for six years, from 1985 through 1991, after Vietnam, yes, but not so long after that I didn't hear grisly anecdotes from nurses who had served in Nam or treat patients suffering from physical and psychic wounds from their time in-country. Second, I married a Naval Academy grad from the class of 1968 who served twenty-four years active duty and have met some of the men mentioned in this I didn't particularly enjoy this book, but it gripped me for personal reasons. First, I served as a Navy nurse for six years, from 1985 through 1991, after Vietnam, yes, but not so long after that I didn't hear grisly anecdotes from nurses who had served in Nam or treat patients suffering from physical and psychic wounds from their time in-country. Second, I married a Naval Academy grad from the class of 1968 who served twenty-four years active duty and have met some of the men mentioned in this haunting memoir. Basically, this memoir echoes what Timberg, who graduated from the Naval Academy in 1968 and served as a marine until a land mine ended his military career and disfigured his handsome face, calls the thesis of his award-winning book "The Nightingale's Song": "You can't march a generation, or a portion of a generation, off to war, have its members suffer the pain and anguish that accompanies all wars, then tell them that it was all a big mistake, without sooner or later paying a price. Especially when much of the rest of that generation came up with novel ways to leave the fighting and dying to others." Undoubtedly Vietnam radically altered Timberg's appearance and life, sending him careening off into an entirely unimagined albeit ultimately rewarding trajectory. But does Vietnam's legacy extend beyond the Baby Boomer generation to our involvement in the Middle East today? And who bears responsibility for the disfigured and dead among today's military, American politicians, or the apathetic public, or the Middle Eastern nations and their leaders and/or squabbles which have gone on for thousands of years? I shuddered when I read a section in the book where the recently wounded Timberg heard a nurse refer to The Burn and realized that she was talking about him. "With two short words, the nurse stripped me both my identity and my humanity, revealing me as a piece of meat, and charred meat at that." Yes, yes, she spoke wrongly, with gross insensitivity, but understand what she, and all other medical personnel, saw in those terrible times, and how they tried to cope - by distancing themselves so they could function. I'm not excusing, just explaining. Obviously, this memoir plumbed depths I would not necessarily choose to explore. But I did. Enough, though, from me. For those of a certain age, and definitely for those of a certain age with a military background, this memoir by the "blue-eyed boy" will resonate.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Robin

    In this book, Timberg chronicles his life post Vietnam War; he's an Annapolis grad Marine who, just days from his going-home date, gets horrifically burned when the vehicle he's on explodes a mine. This story is at its best when Timberg is describing the procedures he endured and the people and experiences that motivated him to return to life, despite being physically disfigured. His bravery and intelligence, and those of his first wife, are pretty incredible. There's a lot to think about -- How In this book, Timberg chronicles his life post Vietnam War; he's an Annapolis grad Marine who, just days from his going-home date, gets horrifically burned when the vehicle he's on explodes a mine. This story is at its best when Timberg is describing the procedures he endured and the people and experiences that motivated him to return to life, despite being physically disfigured. His bravery and intelligence, and those of his first wife, are pretty incredible. There's a lot to think about -- How much can a marriage bear? Which of your personal characteristics make you you, and what can you do without and still be you? What do you do when medicine has reached it limit of how much it can improve your condition? Three stars because the book gets weird at the end. Timberg became a journalist and covered Washington. He spends many of the last chapters talking about the book he wrote on Iran Contra (Nightingale's Song), and his wish to prove that North, Pointdexter, and MacFarlane were just swell guys who didn't really do anything wrong. It seemed completely out of place in this book.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Linda Robertson

    The beginning of the book is excellent, but the last quarter is anything but. I heard Timberg being interviewed on NPR and wanted to read the book. He sounded very interesting. The Viet Nam portion and his recovery were gut wrenching. But later he comes across as rather self involved. His excuses for MacFarlane, North and others involved in the Iran Contra, because they were ex Marines, made me doubt what sort of people the service academies are turning out. They were adult men and he expects oth The beginning of the book is excellent, but the last quarter is anything but. I heard Timberg being interviewed on NPR and wanted to read the book. He sounded very interesting. The Viet Nam portion and his recovery were gut wrenching. But later he comes across as rather self involved. His excuses for MacFarlane, North and others involved in the Iran Contra, because they were ex Marines, made me doubt what sort of people the service academies are turning out. They were adult men and he expects others to watch out for them.... It smacked of just following orders. He hates the men who avoided the draft during Viet Nam, but admits he doesn't really know why the US was there. Probably this book is a good example of our generation's conflicted feelings towards Viet Nam and the aftermath that have led to funding the Contra's, Iraq and Afghanistan. Timberg keeps saying that he wrote the book because his son asked him to. It shows.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Su

    The first half of this memoir details the life of Robert Timberg, when he was serving as a U.S. marine in Vietnam. With his countdown to going home down to a meager 13 days, he suffers horrendous injuries from a land mine. The story of the pain and suffering and multiple surgeries he endured almost brought me to tears. But, in the second half of the book, it seems his ego took over and ran wild. He was a man of contradictions. He despises young men of his generation who avoided the draft by any The first half of this memoir details the life of Robert Timberg, when he was serving as a U.S. marine in Vietnam. With his countdown to going home down to a meager 13 days, he suffers horrendous injuries from a land mine. The story of the pain and suffering and multiple surgeries he endured almost brought me to tears. But, in the second half of the book, it seems his ego took over and ran wild. He was a man of contradictions. He despises young men of his generation who avoided the draft by any means possible, but at the same time he mentions his own uncertainty as to why the war was fought. He writes of the IranContra Affair and seems to lose his perspective as a reporter. He excuses the actions of those brought down by the affair because they were good Marines and Annapolis graduates. As was he. I just couldn't get very invested in him once he turned the book into, what seemed to me, a vendetta against those who protested the war. And a blank check for those who didn't.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Georgia

    Like many others stated before me, I was totally enmeshed in the story for the first half of the book. Bob's Vietnam experiences, terrible injuries, and developing angst over what the war in Vietnam really meant to those young people serving and those 'others' who avoided service was riveting. Then he began telling his 'work' story, which started out strong but finally ended up being an 'I did this, and I did that' saga over and over and over again. By the end of the book, I mostly didn't care w Like many others stated before me, I was totally enmeshed in the story for the first half of the book. Bob's Vietnam experiences, terrible injuries, and developing angst over what the war in Vietnam really meant to those young people serving and those 'others' who avoided service was riveting. Then he began telling his 'work' story, which started out strong but finally ended up being an 'I did this, and I did that' saga over and over and over again. By the end of the book, I mostly didn't care what he was doing or where he is now, career wise. I read this on Kindle and didn't see the photos of Bob's injured face until the very end. He certainly was a brave, young man serving his country honorably in a time of terrible turmoil; for that I'd give Bob the man five stars. But the book, not so many.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Nicole

    Timberg's book begins with his time at the naval academy, then quickly moves to Vietnam, where he suffers incredible injuries two weeks before he's supposed to return home. He provides an unflinching narrative of his recovery, both physical and mental. The book delves into his career trajectory as a reporter and how he ultimately came to be the author of several highly regarded books. In my opinion, the book was a little light on the details of the close, personal relationships that comprise a p Timberg's book begins with his time at the naval academy, then quickly moves to Vietnam, where he suffers incredible injuries two weeks before he's supposed to return home. He provides an unflinching narrative of his recovery, both physical and mental. The book delves into his career trajectory as a reporter and how he ultimately came to be the author of several highly regarded books. In my opinion, the book was a little light on the details of the close, personal relationships that comprise a person's life. If more had been provided, I believe I would have given this book 5 stars. As it is though, I enjoyed it very much.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Judy

    The first three-fourths of this book is excellent -- well-written with a fast pace. Timberg builds an air of suspense as we anticipate his severe injury and wonder how well he will recover. His struggle to create a new life has a strong emotional impact and the successes he achieves are very impressive. Towards the end of the book, his focus waivers and he emphasizes the politics of the Vietnam War, especially his anger towards those who opposed the war, rather than his personal experiences. Sti The first three-fourths of this book is excellent -- well-written with a fast pace. Timberg builds an air of suspense as we anticipate his severe injury and wonder how well he will recover. His struggle to create a new life has a strong emotional impact and the successes he achieves are very impressive. Towards the end of the book, his focus waivers and he emphasizes the politics of the Vietnam War, especially his anger towards those who opposed the war, rather than his personal experiences. Still, a worthwhile read. I received this book free as a Goodreads "First Reads" Giveaway.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Mike Clay

    A top journalist from the Baltimore Sun (and Evening Sun) writes an autobiographical account of his experience in Vietnam, his marriage and recovery, his experience as a journalist and with the Washington press corp covering Iran Contra and other events. An uplifting book and well recommended.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Lynn

    This is a gripping account of how a badly injured combat vet worked to find his way in the civilian world. He doesn't pull any punches and he provides a lot of food for thought regarding society and the place of combat in the world. This is a gripping account of how a badly injured combat vet worked to find his way in the civilian world. He doesn't pull any punches and he provides a lot of food for thought regarding society and the place of combat in the world.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Jeff

    Maybe my favorite book of the year: a true-life tale of both military and journalistic heroism.

  25. 5 out of 5

    harpsicle

    It talks about a career oriented guy!!Very interesting!!Thumbs up !!

  26. 5 out of 5

    Kim

    Really enjoyed the first 2/3 of the book but then it went downhill.

  27. 5 out of 5

    lo6

    one of the good one's one of the good one's

  28. 4 out of 5

    Beth Hines

    An amazing memoir of a man who overcame great injury in Vietnam and became a distinguished journalist. This story is told with honesty and integrity, horror and humor.

  29. 4 out of 5

    benny1

    “Blue-Eyed Boy” is the story of a man who fought, fought like hell — first for survival, then for a life.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Judy

    As the wife of a wounded Vietnam vet, all I can say is that this book moved me to tears. Those that didn't go to Vietnam should read this for sure. As the wife of a wounded Vietnam vet, all I can say is that this book moved me to tears. Those that didn't go to Vietnam should read this for sure.

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