An American Requiem

An American Requiem : God, My Father, and the War That Came Between Us

3.93 (597 ratings by Goodreads)
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An American Requiem is the story of one man's coming of age. But more than that, it is a coming to terms with the conflicts that disrupted many families, inflicting personal wounds that were also social, political, and religious. Carroll grew up in a Catholic family that seemed blessed. His father had abandoned his own dream of becoming a priest to rise through the ranks of Hoover's FBI and then become one of the most powerful men in the Pentagon, the founder of the Defense Intelligence Agency. Young Jim lived the privileged life of a general's son, dating the daughter of a vice president and meeting the pope, all in the shadow of nuclear war, waiting for the red telephone to ring in his parents' house. He worshiped his father until Martin Luther King, Jr., the civil rights movement, turmoil in the Catholic Church, and then Vietnam combined to outweigh the bond between father and son. These were issues on which they would never agree. Only after Carroll left the priesthood to become a writer and husband with children of his own did he come to understand fully the struggles his father had faced. In this work of nonfiction, the best-selling novelist draws on the skills he honed with nine much-admired novels to tell the story he was, literally, born to tell. AN AMERICAN REQUIEM is a benediction on his father's lief, his family's struggles, adn teh legacies of an entire generation.
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Product details

  • Hardback | 288 pages
  • 147.32 x 210.82 x 27.94mm | 453.59g
  • Houghton Mifflin (Trade)
  • Boston, United States
  • English
  • 039577926X
  • 9780395779262

Review Text

An ex-priest's confessional attempt to make peace with his dead father. For nearly 20 years, novelist Carroll (The City Below, 1994; Memorial Bridge, 1991; etc.) barely talked to his father, the late lieutenant general Joseph F. Carroll, founding director of the Defense Intelligence Agency. They fell out over the war in Vietnam; over the way the younger Carroll conducted himself as a priest; and over the son's finally opting out of the priesthood, just as his father had done. Carroll confronts the demons left by his troubled relationship with his father and his church by telling his family's story, focusing especially on the political and religious turmoil that tore them apart in the 1960s. The book is sometimes embarrassingly heartfelt in a '60s bare-your-soul style that seemed fresh then but now sounds like the everyday kitsch of touchy-feely, tell-all television. Also, Carroll's lack of communication with his father, always a man of few words, forces him to speculate about the older man's emotions, just as he must speculate about what advice his father gave presidents on the war in Vietnam. But Carroll's honesty and sincerity, and the fascination of his stow, triumph over any temptation to mock him as waxing too sentimental about his gloW days as a radical campus priest counseling war resisters. Carroll argues persuasively that he is still that priest, albeit in a different role, and with a wife and children. And despite his falling out with both his father and his church, he thanks them for giving him the courage of his convictions and for making him a priest, even as they broke his heart. A fresh retelling of old stories about a son's struggles with his father and his God, and a memoir that may help put more demons to rest for others of the '60s generation. (Kirkus Reviews)
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Rating details

597 ratings
3.93 out of 5 stars
5 33% (199)
4 36% (214)
3 24% (141)
2 5% (30)
1 2% (13)
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