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Blue-Eyed Boy: A Memoir Hardcover – July 24, 2014


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Editorial Reviews

Review

The Washington Post:
“In a crisp, unsentimental style, Timberg … traces his long postwar journey from the hospital ward to the newsroom—or, as he puts it, ‘Remember[ing] how I decided not to die….’ Wisdom resonates throughout Blue-Eyed Boy, a fierce and enthralling memoir….‘I suspect there’s something essentially human about what I fought my way through,’ he writes in the book’s prologue. That only begins to hint at the fullness of his life’s journey. This is vital reading.”

U.S. News & World Report:
“In a clear confiding voice, [Timberg’s] autobiography Blue-Eyed Boy speaks to you like an American Proust, straight from the start: 'Falling asleep is never a problem for me. Waking up always is.' As he approached age 70, he at last let himself look back at the jagged scenery of his life….There’s a hardwon beauty in those crevices…. Timberg’s memoir is a searing loss of innocence tale, one that may address a wider swath of college baby boomers in the 1960s than he thought. Whatever side you were on when it came to the Vietnam War, it ended badly. Nobody won. America suffered a shattering loss of innocence over that war, starting in 1967, the year Timberg—who goes by 'Bob'—lost the man in the mirror. Then comes the best part of his journey: a mordant tale told of adult resurrection.”


The American Conservative:
Blue-Eyed Boy, the just-released memoir by wounded veteran and journalist Robert Timberg, excels with limpid writing and gripping personal travail and triumph, never once hinting at or lamenting what-might-have-been, even as it admirably meets all the requisites of an exemplary memoir….Forcing the reader to seriously ponder obligations and responsibilities to one’s country and society, Blue-Eyed Boy is a welcome tonic, an elixir of life delivered with hard-hitting flesh-and-blood reality. Refreshingly honest in depicting less than admirable personal behavior, Timberg is equally blunt in recounting the arduously difficult and tortuously slow road to mental, psychological, and physical recovery. In spite of numerous setbacks and indignities in the struggle to cope and 'come back,' Timberg thrives as much in his writing as he has in life.”

Bookpage:
“A fascinating look at how tragedy that would make most men crumble instead drove the author to survive, and on many levels to succeed….[A] fast moving, crisply written memoir.”

Kirkus Reviews:
“An empathetic and extremely candid memoir from a man who decided 'to remember how I decided not to die…not let my future die.'"

Booklist:
“This thoroughly absorbing autobiography really begins with the author’s life-altering experience of being badly wounded (and severely and permanently disfigured) as a marine officer in Vietnam..... Timberg will strike many readers as demonstrating the truth of the notion that 'genius is an infinite capacity for taking pains'—although, in Timberg’s case, he first had to demonstrate a large capacity for enduring pain.”

Curled Up with a Good Book:
“This is an extraordinary tale of a remarkable boy with more courage and determination than any ten normal men. It will make you cry and make your own petty problems disappear completely.”

Jim Lehrer:
“If you only have time to read one memoir right now, make it Blue-Eyed Boy. Bob Timberg lived through what an exploding land mine did to him as a young Marine lieutenant in Vietnam. It changed forever most everything about him, including the way he looked. The story he tells superbly and honestly is one of pain and suffering, resilience and recovery that I promise will also stay forever with and within you. I hereby salute this stunning piece of work and invite you to do the same.”

Mark Shields, syndicated columnist, PBS NewsHour:
“If, as the proverb teaches, an honest man fears neither the light nor the dark, Bob Timberg, the author of this unsparingly honest memoir, must be fearless. This is his compelling story of suffering and redemption, of passion and courage, the story of one flawed and fallible, but ultimately admirable man who sustained grievous wounds in combat but managed to rebuild his life and make it matter. This is a gripping and honest book written by an honored journalist who is an honest man. Blue-Eyed Boy, I can almost guarantee, will make you cry, make you laugh, and make you think.”
 
Mark Bowden, New York Times bestselling author of Black Hawk Down:
“To say that war scars a man for life is a cliché, but for Bob Timberg it is a cliché that came excruciatingly true. In one searing moment on a well-traveled trail in Vietnam, a land mine exploded beneath his vehicle and left him hideously scarred. Timberg has lived with that long ago war every day since. His fight to rebuild his face, and to carve out a normal life and admirable career is as real and courageous a war story as you will ever read.”

Nathaniel Fick, New York Times bestselling author of One Bullet Away: The Making of a Marine Officer:
"Bob Timberg's Blue-Eyed Boy is a homecoming story in the tradition of The Odyssey. The road back after combat is long, and Timberg brings his fortunate readers on a deeply personal journey that is also the journey of a generation. It's a special book by a special man, and I am glad to have read it."
 
John S. Carroll, former editor of the Los Angeles Times and the Baltimore Sun:
Blue-Eyed Boy is Robert Timberg’s candid and compelling memoir of courage on the battlefield and sustained heroism over the decades to follow. Terribly wounded as a young Marine officer in Vietnam, he reclaims his life in faltering steps. Eventually finding a calling as an author, he illuminates the deep rift in American public life between those who served and those who did not.”

--This text refers to the Paperback edition.

About the Author

Robert Timberg is the author of The Nightingale’s Song, John McCain: An American Odyssey, and State of Grace: A Memoir of Twilight Time. A 1964 graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy, he served with the First Marine Division in South Vietnam from March 1966 to January 1967. Timberg worked at The Baltimore Sun for more than three decades as a reporter, an editor, and a White House correspondent.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Press (July 24, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1594205663
  • ISBN-13: 978-1594205668
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1.1 x 9.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (69 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #230,782 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

He is truly a fascinating person, and has wonderful stories to share.
A. Gilliland
I thought the narrative drive of this book dissipated once it begins to focus on The Nightingale's Song rather than the author's personal life.
N. B. Kennedy
The book has very good flow and kept me turning pages wanting to read more.
Wilhelmina Zeitgeist

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

21 of 21 people found the following review helpful By N. B. Kennedy TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on June 2, 2014
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Robert Timberg, a Marine and Naval Academy graduate, was 13 days from finishing his year-long tour in Vietnam and returning home to his bride. On a day when he was supposed to be on R&R, shopping for souvenirs, he instead took the place of a fellow Marine in a convoy bringing paychecks to a company deep in the boonies. On the way, the Amtrac he was riding in rolled over a land mine and exploded in a fireball that charred Mr. Timberg's face, neck and arms.

Mr. Timberg was scarred in a horrible way for life, despite the thirty-five surgeries he endured in the repairing and rebuilding of his features. In this memoir, Mr. Timberg describes his journey through the realities of his disfigurement, his wrecked self, and his search for significance in his new life. Fortunately, he stumbles on the idea of becoming a journalist, though he'd never written anything for publication in his life. His natural curiosity and delight at finding that he is good at the job of reporting help him overcome his reluctance to face the world.

Mr. Timberg's enthusiasm for his work will make great reading for those like me who love the journalistic world. At the scene of his first assignment for a small Annapolis daily -- a bridge suicide -- he finds himself so immersed in his work that, for the first time, he forgets his appearance. "I didn't care how spooked they looked when I first approached them; I just wanted them to tell me what they'd seen and heard," he writes. It was in that moment, he realizes later, that he was transformed "from victim to something else." This one-time victim goes on to become an esteemed reporter and editor for the Baltimore Sun.

Toward the end of the book, the narrative switches from Mr. Timberg's personal story to the writing of his first book.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By R. W. Nilsson on August 2, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I have read some of his work including "The Nightingale’s Song" which gave me a whole new insight into some well known Viet Nam veterans and their successes, careers and miscalculations. I thought that book was great. I've never met Robert, but feel I have after reading this latest book..
As well written as that was, I was not prepared for the depth of insight into a multitude struggles and accomplishments when returning horribly injured from Viet Nam from Blue Eyed Boy by Robert Timberg.
His ability to honestly take you thru the trials and tribulations of his life is remarkable.
He demonstrates the power of good writing.
A must read for anyone who experienced Viet Nam, or War.

USMC, RVN 66/67
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By F. J. West on July 24, 2014
Format: Hardcover
I've known Bob Timberg for a few decades now. He is a superb writer, a sharp editor and dogged in his research. His narrative, The Nightingale's Song, is a classic portrayal of illustrious warriors driven by a strange mixture of ambition, glory, duty and ideology. A fascinating read.

Until I read Blue-Eyed Boy, I had no idea about the severity of Bob's wounds in Vietnam. He writes so well that you feel you have entered into his consciousness - but fortunately not his body! - as by sheer willpower he endures 35 - yes, 35 - operations to reassemble his burnt body, inch by inch, skin graft after skin graft. In one case, complications prevent the administration of any sedatives or pain killers. It's just Bob, the doctor and the scalpel.

The book is riveting because Bob is honest in conveying his feelings. In his modesty, he is unaware that the reader becomes engrossed in trying to grasp the depth of his willpower. Time and again, I thought: I wouldn't have the determination to undergo yet another operation. Bob went on to have a full and enriching career, because he never gave up.

An astonishing saga of human determination to persevere. Bravo Zulu to Bob

Semper Fidelis, Bing West
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Barry Sparks VINE VOICE on June 10, 2014
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Blue-eyed Boy is a memoir that tells how author and former Marine Robert Timberg gained his footing after suffering second and third degree burns on his face, arms and hands after the AmTrac he was riding hit a land mine in Vietnam on Jan. 18, 1967.

Timberg, a first lieutenant, only had 13 days remaining on his tour. The landmine explosion left him horribly disfigured. A doctor told him they were the worst facial burns he had seen. From April 1967 through July 1968, Timberg underwent 25 facial surgeries. He would later undergo another 7 to 10 facial surgeries.

Timberg fell into deep depression and briefly considered suicide. At age 27, he had to figure out what to do with the rest of his life. His wife, who was pregnant with their first child, convinced him to pursue a master's degree in journalism at Stanford. Timberg, however, had never written anything for publication. In graduate school, he had to learn how to overcome the stares and rude remarks of others.

When he landed his first journalism job at the Annapolis Evening Capital (Timberg was a graduate of the Naval Academy), he was 30 years old. Very competitive, he had a long way to go and a short time to get there. Humorously, Timberg didn't know how to type when he took the job at The Capital. He had to fake it for a while so other reporters wouldn't know.

He became a good reporter, and eventually moved on to the Baltimore Evening Sun, covering state politics and the Baltimore Sun, covering the White House. The Iran-Contra affair triggered his idea to write The Nightingale's Song, book tying together five Naval Academy graduates--Bud McFarland, John Poindexter, Oliver North, James Webb and John McCain.
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