Born on the Fourth of July (Magill's Literary Annual 1977)
Both the intensity and the personal view of life presented in Born on the Fourth of July are the book’s essential characteristics. Kovic holds definite views about the war in Vietnam, but the book is not one more in the list of anti-war arguments. Nor is it simply a narration of experiences—the experiences are felt, not just recorded. Other people are there, but they are seen through Kovic’s eyes, related to him.
Vietnam itself is the scene of only a few sections of the story. More of it concerns Kovic’s treatment in veterans’ hospitals, and his return to civilian, if not normal, life. A portion of the book essential to its understanding is composed of flashbacks to his growing up in Massapequa, Long Island, N.Y. These flashbacks are nostalgic and frequently poetic, in contrast to the sections dealing with the war and the recovery, which are grim and harsh. The language, as the movie ads say, is explicit, and may offend some readers.
Kovic really was born on July 4, 1946. He grew up in a suburban housing development, with happy memories of friends. Little League, games in the street and woods; school seems unimportant. His heroes were Mickey Mantle and John Wayne, especially Wayne in the role of a Marine. High school sports were important to young Kovic, and the death and funeral of President Kennedy traumatic. At eighteen, after high school, he joined the Marines.
If the picture seems ordinary, even banal, that...
(The entire section is 1891 words.)
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Bibliography (Magill's Literary Annual 1977)
America. CXXXV, September 25, 1976, p. 173.
Best Sellers. XXXVI, November, 1976, p. 257.
Commonweal. CIII, October 8, 1976, p. 663.
Harper’s Magazine. CCLIII, September, 1976, p. 80.
Los Angeles Times. August 1, 1976, Books, p. 9.
Newsweek. LXXXVIII, September 20, 1976, p. 8.
(The entire section is 29 words.)