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Baby Jack: A Novel Paperback

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Da Capo Press (November 9, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0786720212
  • ISBN-13: 978-0786720217
  • Product Dimensions: 8.1 x 5.3 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.5 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,387,457 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Schaeffer, the author of two nonfiction books based on his experience of having a family member on active duty in the Middle East, treats similar themes in his new novel. Self--absorbed painter Todd Ogden and his patrician wife, Sarah, are stunned when their 18-year-old son, Jack, the product of prestigious prep schools, enlists in the marines. Moving from cajolery to cold fury, Todd finally refuses to speak to his son. Meanwhile, Jack finds the camaraderie and dedication of his drill instructors and fellow marines to be a welcome change. The majority of the novel, however, is devoted to how the parents deal with their guilt and grief when Jack is deployed to the Middle East and killed one week later. In reductive fashion, Schaeffer contrasts the full-blown patriotism of the enlisted with the selfishness of the upper classes. An irreverent God makes an appearance, as does the ghost of the dead marine. In the end, too many broad strokes and the wide variance in tone weaken the novel's effect, although the vivid portrayal of the appeal of the military sets the story apart from much war fiction. Given the subject, expect some off-the-book-page interest. Joanne Wilkinson
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


"Schaeffer makes this concise chorus of social conviction moving and memorable by emphasizing emotion..." -- USA Today

"Tour de force... Baby Jack is a triumph and a modern masterpiece. Read it and be moved." -- Ward Carroll, --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

More About the Author

New York Times best selling author of more than a dozen books Frank Schaeffer is a survivor of both polio and an evangelical/fundamentalist childhood, an acclaimed writer who overcame severe dyslexia, a home-schooled and self-taught documentary movie director, a feature film director and producer of four low budget Hollywood features Frank has described as "pretty terrible," and a best selling author of both fiction and nonfiction. Frank is the author of "And God Said, 'Billy!'" and many other books. Frank's three semi-biographical novels about growing up in a fundamentalist mission: "Portofino," "Zermatt" and "Saving Grandma" have a worldwide following and have been translated into nine languages. Jane Smiley writing in the Washington Post (7/10/11) says this of Frank's memoirs "Crazy For God" and "Sex, Mom and God": "[Schaeffer's] memoirs have a way of winning a reader's friendship...Schaeffer is a good memoirist, smart and often laugh-out-loud funny...Frank seems to have been born irreverent, but his memoirs have a serious purpose, and that is to expose the insanity and the corruption of what has become a powerful and frightening force in American politics... Frank has been straightforward and entertaining in his campaign to right the political wrongs he regrets committing in the 1970s and '80s...As someone who has made redemption his work, he has, in fact, shown amazing grace."

Customer Reviews

4.9 out of 5 stars
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See all 22 customer reviews
It's about the Corps, yes, but more importantly about service, grief and love.
Robert A. Hall
He cycles from view to view of multiple characters, fully examining the situations and events throughout the book.
A. Trites
I'm so glad he has awakened our country to the issue of "respect for the military"...very "un-PC"!
Avid Reader

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

34 of 34 people found the following review helpful By John Schaeffer on September 2, 2006
Format: Hardcover
Frank Schaeffer is my father, and as such you might expect me to be biased (which I won't deny), but if you look at any of the other reviews on any of his other books on this site (which I encourage you to do) you will see that I have written nothing about them. I never even put a plug in for Keeping Faith-A Father-Son Story About Love and the United States Marine Corps, which we wrote together. I have read and liked them all, and I hope you also will read them, but never before has one of his books affected me as this one has. I see how the life of a family very like my own might have played out if things had been just a little different, if someone like me had never returned from a war zone. The experience of reading BABY JACK was akin to George Bailey's in It's a Wonderful Life, watching the life of everyone around him play out as if he had never existed. Reading BABY JACK was both a surreal and wonderful experience at the same time and I hope that you will read Dad's book and glimpse how the life of a family can be forever changed by a single choice or a single event.
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20 of 20 people found the following review helpful By James L. Kring on September 6, 2006
Format: Hardcover
Great war stories are not about combat. They are about the fractured lives and wounded souls of the combatants -- in and out of uniform. In BABY JACK, Frank Schaeffer captures the raw humanity of Jack Ogden's story as no other other war novel I have read. He also offers the hope that understanding, reconciliation, and spiritual renewal will unfold in each life that humbly seeks it.

Late yesterday afternoon UPS delivered my copy of BABY JACK. Last night, mesmerized by Frank Schaeffer's brilliantly voiced characters, I read the story through in one sitting. I relived my experiences as a young Marine through Jack; I fell in love with Jessica; and, I hated everything I saw of myself in Todd.

Many years ago I, like Jack Ogden, chose the Marines over college. I was squad leader and "honor Marine" in boot camp. Like Jack, my father did not come to my graduation. I had seen him only two times as a young child.

In DaNang, our perimeter was overrun by North Vietnamese Army regulars. I was blown off the road by an explosion from a rocket propelled grenade while taking a wounded Marine to an aid station. I spent the night trapped in deep grass clutching a grenade and waiting to die. My sister worked for Robert McNamara. Every day she checked the Pentagon "Casualty List" searching for my name.

Like Jack, I volunteered to serve but my family was drafted into the war. Through BABY JACK I relived my experiences as a combat Marine and a was given the opportunity to experience how my family suffered in untold ways as have countless others.

Great literary novels are character driven -- and this is one for our time.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By N. J. Poklitar on September 4, 2006
Format: Hardcover
Through BABY JACK Frank Schaeffer has created characters that although fiction are real. You might know some of the characters yourself, I do. Schaeffer is an intelligent, witty writer - he can make you laugh through your sobs and believe me, you will experience both emotions as you read BABY JACK. Through a special cadence of writing from different points of view, we see a young man who could be anything in the world he wanted to, become just that, a United States Marine, we see how others in his life respond because, as Schaeffer writes at one point, "Jack entlisted, the rest of us were drafted." There are some powerful emotions at play in this book - read it and give thanks that there are real men/women in this country willing to become a Marine. I strongly suggest you also read Keeping Faith and Faith of Our Sons also written by Frank Schaeffer - these books should be required reading for all Americans. Do I hear movie????
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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Andrew Lubin on August 30, 2006
Format: Hardcover
This might well be Frank Schaeffer's finest book.

Altho a well-written novel in it's own right, "Baby Jack" takes on the important topic of the huge and growing chasm in America today between those who've served in the military and those who do not. With the fictional Ogden family as the setting, with the liberal father vs. the Marine-recuit son, the book discusses the value today of service to the country, why it's so important in today's society, and perhaps why the fabric of America is being threatened by the casual and "you do it" attitude so prevalent today.

And the novel itself is simply brilliant ! God hanging out at Parris Island ? God as a D.I. ? OOH-RAH, Mr. Schaeffer, for a job well done !
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Mary Woods on September 8, 2006
Format: Hardcover
I have been an avid reader for 50 years and no novel has affected me like BABY JACK. I am not as articulate as the reviewers before me, I can only try to express what it meant to me in some way. My grandson is a Marine, injured in Iraq on his second tour. The book expressed what I felt when he was in Iraq, as most people were so involved in their next Botox injection, the next football game, etc. while those of us with family in Iraq or Afganistan watched the news each day, not wanting to see what was happening over there, but unable to tear ourselves away, then waiting for the phone to ring or a knock on the door. This book describes in raw detail the disconnect between those who serve and those who do not and the final realization that yes, there is something more important in life than one's own comfort and desires, such as honor, bravery, sacrifice, commitment. The irreverance caught me off guard at first but some of it was so humorous I laughed out loud, and I believe God does have a sense of humor. God bless Frank Schaeffer for "getting it" and for pressing on with his mission to try to get those disinvested Americans to "get it" so the few won't have to carry the real burden of most Americans. Even though this is fiction, it is also factual in the most important ways. When read as fiction BABY JACK holds the reader's attention to the point of not being able to put it down. When read as more truth than fiction, breaks are needed in order to relieve the intense feelings it generates.
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