Customer Reviews: An American Requiem: God, My Father, and the War That Came Between Us
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on October 4, 2000
As a reader in my early twenties, until I read this memoir it was difficult for me to understand the enormity that was the Vietnam War to American consciousness. The power of the book is two-fold. The first is the picture Carroll paints of his family -- a distinctly American creation with which most readers can identify, especially those like myself who had a military upbringing. The second is the historic moment in which Carroll's emotional story unfolds. Until this book, I never truly felt what a blow the Vietnam War was to many Americans' faith in their country. The pathos in the story lies in the fact that while Carroll finds himself politically and ideologically in the tumultuous era of the 70's, he simultaneously alienates himself from his beloved father and the values the older man embodies. Some readers may think that the memoir is overly sentimental, yet the sincerity and introspection with which Carroll writes makes the emotions in the book more evocative than the more tired tear-jerkers out there. The complex emotions of love and regret are expressed beautifully by the close of the book. One of the most emotionally evocative books I've read in a long time and also an informative glimpse into a period of American history.
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on May 1, 2001
This is an honest, soul-searching book about a man who questions his faith and his father's role in the Vietnam War. Rather than taking a "moral high ground," like one of the earlier reviewers claimed, I found Carroll's writing to be very humble and self-effacing. He readily admits to "standing in the background" on many of the early protests.
Although Carroll's questioning of religious AND military apologists will no doubt raise the ire of dyed-in-the-wool conservatives, his perspective is a breath of fresh air to those of us with moral questions of our own.
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on July 11, 2004
I was so surprised by reading the few negative reviews of this book that I felt obligated to comment. Yes, his story is one-sided, and no, he doesn't explore his father's perspective much, or what the proponents of war were really thinking. And yes, he obviously feels that he was in the right to protest the war.
But this isn't a book about his father, the Catholic Church, and especially not about the Vietnam war. This is simply the story of his life, as he presents it. Like the best of books, you root for the protagonist, you sympathize with him, and sometimes you wish he had done things differently. It is a fascinating, absorbing read and a good glimpse into the spirit of a time that I am too young to know myself. It's also an odd juxtaposition with the current events of our nation at war.
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VINE VOICEon May 28, 2006
In this book we see Jim Carroll right of passage to manhood. It takes place during the same years of Vietnam. And his families like many others were placed in conflict by it; it split two generations apart like no other war. Father and son were being at odds with one another. And the author uses this book to support his position that he took in protesting the war.

Though his famous father, Ex-FBI Agent and Lt. Gen. Carroll in command of the DIA is the subject of some of his consternation. The book is not about him. It is about Jim Carroll and his relationship with his father who seemed to never be able to fill a void he made in himself by not becoming a Priest himself. And it seems to me this is the large reason for the conflict between them...Jim felt his father expected to be redeemed by his works as a Priest. Though his father never says this.

So when you pick up this book to read, remember it is about Jim Carroll's life and his struggle with his faith and his father. And it does show the spirit of those times. Worth the read.
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on December 12, 2000
Jim Carroll has written a remarkable book. Contrary to the reviewers on this site, Carroll is not a moral coward. To stand up for what you believe in the face of family and friends is the opposite of cowardice. And Carroll is not Anti-Catholic at all, if you read carefully, you would understand that, while he has differences with his religion, that he still holds the church in respect. Read this book...and you will understand how the negative reviewers have completely missed the boat and have let their own ideological agendas cloud their judgment.
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A heart wrenching memoir of Mr. Carroll's journey through catholism, politics and the family structure. As one who stood in those crowds pleading the injustices of a war many miles away not only in distance but purpose, I found James Carroll's life story inspiring. Many times through this novel I would find myself saying "I didn't know that." A major announcement from one who thought she knew just about all there was to know about the Vietnam war and the lies, senseless deaths and minipulative politics (is that an oxymoron) that surrounded this dark time in American history. I found the chapter "Holy Wars" most intriguing. It never ceases to amaze me how the Catholic church seems to find itself in the middle of some of the most important conflicts of the past two centuries.
"American Requiem" should be required reading for any 20th century history course and it might not be a bad read for a catholicism course. Since I was raised catholic and still practice in my own way, I could sympathize with the agony Mr. Carroll and his father experienced when it came to their faith. Fortunately, James Carroll was able to vocalize the conflict surrounding his love of God and a church that gives him spiritual balance and the problems with that same church's power and its decisions that appear to be made sometimes more for political gain rather than spiritual enrichment. The real tragedy falls in Mr. Carroll's father's story. Although the senior Carroll's professional life is nothing short of fascinating, his personal life reminds us how empty it all can be if we do not acknowledge the things that are truly important.
This was the first "history" based novel that I was unable to put down. Go get it now.
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on July 16, 2014
June 21, 2014
A Review by Anthony T. Riggio of James Carroll’s book “An American Requiem, (God, My Father and the War that came between us).
This book was originally published in 1996 and it was obtained through an Amazon, reseller as a used book. I was interested in this book because the author was known to me indirectly through his brother Brian Carroll and having read “Prince of Peace” and the “Sword of Constantine” I enjoyed the author’s style of writing and since this book appeared to me to be a memoir or auto biographical work of his experiences as the son of an Air Force Lieutenant General. A General who was also former FBI Agent and was a close associate of J. Edgar Hoover, I believed it was a story I could relate with, especially since I worked with his brother Brian while we were both FBI Agents. In fact, Brian was very proud of his brother James when he gave me a copy of his “Prince of Peace” novel about spiritual and political conflicts during the period of the Vietnam War.
I was aware that James was a former Paulist priest who had left both his Order and the Priesthood. I was hoping that this book would give me greater insight as to the reasons he gave up his calling as a Priest.
This book did give me tremendous insight into the inner struggles one goes through in abandoning a calling from the priesthood or as Catholic knows this as Holy Orders, a very sacred sacrament.
The story is a very familiar story of the struggles between a son and his father. Carroll’s father was your classic over achiever who fought his way out of the neighborhoods of Chicago and the Seminary. This is a central theme between his son James and the father. After completing Law School Joe Carroll (the father of James), he joins the FBI and becomes a close confidant of J. Edgar Hoover. When the President of the United States wants an FBI Agent to head the new AOSI (Air Force Office of Security Investigations), Hoover volunteers Joe Carroll. Often the sons of fathers who are dedicated to their jobs feel both the admiration and the absence of their hard working fathers.
Because of the experiences James Carroll had as a child growing up in the Air Force; his travels and his experiences were probably atypical for a boy at that time. Having grown up in the Bronx, living in a small apartment, I would have given my “eye” teeth to have had half the experiences James Carroll had. Still, there were some experiences that imprinted on his character development. I believe it was mostly his Mother’s devotion that led James to the priesthood notwithstanding his own father, Joe Carroll’s, experience of leaving the seminary when he was a young man.
James Carroll was a sort of rebel early on in his growing up but when he commenced his studies at the seminary, he branched off both politically and socially which were indeed the antitheses of his Father’s driving ambitions. He was even arrested as a result of his participations in demonstrations. He was also a friend of the Berrigen brothers who were also priests though much more rebellious during the Vietnam War than James Carroll. I suspect his Father approval was always a factor in many of his life decisions.
I rated this book very high (5 stars) because I truly enjoyed Carroll's writing style and the raw emotion felt while feel while reading this book. I gave it five stars and had bought this book through an Amazon.
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on January 3, 2015
This was quite interesting...good history of the 1960's and the interaction of those who protested vocally and learned the very value of human kind while gaining the truth of their beliefs in religious/human values, respect, . Many lost those whom they had once loved and respected... who covered up ethics, morality, their own selves and loss of their human and religious values...while profit. false values, self-estate became their goals.. With much struggle, insight, deep soul searching and ethics came to the forefront in those who protested and voiced their truth and beliefs, those who were not afraid to do so. They gave up much but came to stronger beliefs in Chrisitanity/God and the very value of human life. Great insight was written by author, James Carroll with much pain leading to truth and wisdom. The truth will set one free but first it can make one miserable leading to thanksgiving...if one pursues toward TRUTH.
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on July 1, 2014
James Carroll writes from his heart about deep religious philosophy. He sheds light on scripture in a way that many priests, preachers, deacons and pastors are not able to. His teachings and thoughts I believe are a result of his many years in the seminary and more importantly lessons learned from his father who also studied to be a priest. He digresses quite a bit concerning the war in Viet Nam. Of course many of us served, but not as chaplains. Some of were in the Infantry struggling for survival day to day. For us it is better to forget that war because we were drafted and had nothing to do with the politics of it. James attempts to make moral judgments about those who served when he should focus more on his own experiences. The insights he shares about his relationship with his mother is very revealing. Many of us recall life with our stay at home mothers and various aspects of our childhood. Overall, based on his religious insights and exposure of family dynamics, I would highly recommend this book. Forget his political orientation and his attempts to be a pacifist. Just respect his opinions there. A great read.
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on July 29, 2001
So far as I can remember, this is the first book of James Carrol's I read, though certainly not the last one. I already placed a review of Constantins Sword on amazon, and have enjoyed again today, reading the many vicious and vitriolic "reviews" of his work in this book and "the Sword", as I have in the past. I find it amazing, and more than a little amusing, that some of those giving Carrol's works here, in "the Sword" and for his new book, House of War, have the intelligence to place a series of readable letters together. However, it is obvious that most have neither read the books nor have any idea how to respond other than with an endless series of "Swift-Boating" attacks on the author. When I read this work, sometime before I was even aware of, and its reviews, I found it a compelling and poignent history of a family conflicted and torn apart by a generational divide of seemingly overwhelming distance and differences - differences of experience, of methods of thought and speaking and commitment to seemingly unresolvable moral struggles. I think of all the truly anguishing stories in this book, for me, the most painful is the son's march on and arrest in front of his father's workplace, the Pentagon, and the attempts by him and his family to reconcile this seemingly unforgivable betrayal with they obviously still strong love for one another. This is a strong and well written story of strong and faithfilled people, whose strengths and eventual faith differences tear at the foundation of their love and the fabric of their lives. I intend to read Carrol's new book, House of War, and will place a review of it on line as soon as I receive it from amazon. I saw Carrol reading, discussing and answering intelligent questions about his newest book on CSpan2 yesterday, and can hardly wait to read it myself. And I look forward to seeing how the poor, deluded, and terribly misinformed "Swift-Boat warriors" of this country's far right who are constantly at work, try to tear and rend this newest work by a great author. wfh
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