Required Reading

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Monday, June 21, 2010

Lay Down My Sword And Shield by James Lee Burke

This book details the rebirth of Hackberry Holland. He returned from the Korean War, rebuilt his life and now he is recreating himself. The hard panned setting and historic family background contribute to his reassessment of his identity.
Describing the book doesn’t really do justice to the story or it’s fluidity. The author reminds me of Pat Conroy and his poetry like prose. The descriptions of the countryside and people are thorough and beautiful. Hack’s experiences as a POW in Korea are horrific. His sublimation of both experience and emotions would fit quite well with PTSD victims in today’s conflicts. His drinking appears to be fuel by displaced anger. Hack’s reactions to his environment and his refusal to be what his family expects him to be as opposed to what he wants to be is a thumbnail of the book’s plot.

We tend to forget how recent equal rights are. There are parts of the book that seem practically fantastic that are supported by facts and recollection of the times. I suspect younger readers may even find some of the incidents hard to believe. Burke’s book was extraordinarily done.

I highly recommend the book.

Body of work of James Lee Burke

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