Saturday, January 14, 2012

Absolution by Miriam Herin

AbsolutionAbsolution by Miriam Herin

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Absolution is the best baby boomer book I've read in a long time. Miriam Herin has captured the internal turmoil our generation went through during the Vietnam war era and still live with all these years later.

The novel opens with the killing of Richard Delaney by Anh Dung “Billy” Nguyen, a Vietnamese immigrant, in what appears to be a botched robbery of a drug store. There is no question about Billy's identity. The case is turned over to Adam Borstein, an assistant district attorney. The prosecution seems straight forward until Ev Quincy, a high profile defense attorney, is brought in.

Maggie Delaney, Richard's wife, learns there are some facts about the killing that don't seem right, especially given what she knew about her husband. She starts her own investigation into Richard's experience in Vietnam. A great deal of the story takes place in flashbacks to the war and protests against the war. There is an especially moving and graphic description of a short time Maggie spent in prison after participating in one of the protests. Maggie and Richard had an unusual marriage because their political beliefs, especially concerning the war, were extreme opposites. Richard was a lieutenant in the special forces while Maggie was active in the anti-war movement.

Herin's picture of the sexual revolution is an accurate telling of what was considered personal empowerment at the time. In one scene Maggie walks into her apartment to find a man who, against her wishes, has been crashing at her place. The man and a woman she's never met before are in her living room. They are naked and have obviously just had sex. The smell of pot is throughout her home. Yet there was also a beautiful scene of Maggie's own first experience.

I was in college from 1968 through 1972, which was the height of the war protests. I opposed the war and still feel that was the right decision. But I based that decision on a limited amount of knowledge. I didn't even know who the Montagnards were until years later. This book was thoroughly researched and presents a complete picture of what was happening at that time. It also presents a good perspective on war in general. It's available in Kindle format for $.99.

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