“Terrifying, heart-breaking and dead-true, Indian Country . . . goes far beyond anything I have encountered in the literature of Vietnam.”
Indian Country is a sweeping, brave and compassionate story from one of our most acclaimed chroniclers of the Vietnam experience. Christian Starkmann follows his boyhood friend, an Ojibwa Indian called Bonny George, from the wilderness of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, where they roamed, hunted and fished in their youths, to the wilderness of Vietnam, where they serve as soldiers in the same platoon. After returning home from the war, his friend buried on the battlefield he left behind, Christian begins to make a life for himself. Yet years later, although he is happily married to June, a good-hearted social worker, and has two daughters, Christian is still fighting—with the searing memories of combat, with the paranoid visions that are clouding his marriage and threatening his career, and most of all with the ghost of Bonny George, who haunts his dreams and presses him to come to terms with a secret so powerful it could destroy everything he has built.
From Publishers Weekly
Caputo, best known as author of the much-admired A Rumor of War, returns to the Vietnam conflict in this powerfully conceived, ambitious novel though this time it is seen as a cataclysm that casts its shadow over a man’s life. He is Christian Starkmann, son of a stern, antiwar pastor in the forested depths of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. As a youth he was bound closely in friendship to a young Indian, Boniface, and determines to go with him to the war. Boniface is killed, Starkmann blames himself, and henceforth he battles for his sanity in a civilian world grown suddenly hostile. His strongest ally in the struggle is his wife June, a sturdy soul whose portrait is Caputo’s triumph: rendered utterly without false sentiment, she is a proud, loving, independent woman. Caputo is after something beyond merely resolving whether June can heal Christian, however. At another level his novel is about Indian and white ways of looking at reality, and in several daring passages he takes us into the mind of an elderly Indian medicine man, Boniface’s grandfather. More than once the book teeters on the edge of pseudo-poetic mumbo-jumbo, and there are some superfluous and overwrought episodes; but the strength and sinew of Caputo’s writing carries his novel through to a truly deserved, deeply felt catharsis.
“A powerful, biting tale of self-discovery.” —Chicago Sun-Times
“Caputo is a fine action writer, controlling the sweep of the narrative with musical skill. . . . The climactic passages have a kind of hallucinatory quality and they stick in the mind.” —The New York Times Book Review
“Caputo tackles all kinds of risky subjects, from men at war to the elasticity of family love, with a hell-for-leather aggressiveness.” —The Plain Dealer