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Military Brats: Legacies of Childhood Inside the Fortress

4.2 out of 5 stars 114 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0963926036
ISBN-10: 0963926039
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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Wertsch explores the common childhood experiences of military offspring, revealing much about the fragility of the family and the dark side of human nature.
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

Operation Desert Storm will increase interest in all things military, so the topic of the services' children is timely. Journalist Wertsch, daughter of an Army colonel, inspired by Pat Conroy's The Great Santini (LJ 6/1/76--Conroy contributes an introduction here), interviewed 80 adult "brats" to record their childhood recollections. Longer and more analytical than Mary Truscott's Brats (LJ 11/15/89), and with greater attention paid to dark themes, Wertsch describes a mixed legacy of alcoholism, abuse, rootlessness, and rigidity; yet also loyalty, achievement, resilience, and idealism. Had her account of growing up "inside the Fortress," as Wertsch somewhat tiresomely puts it throughout, focused more upon concrete detail and less upon her subjects' psyches and her own psychological outpourings, the book would have been of wider interest to readers raised civilian. Still, this is a good choice for many public libraries and for any library serving a military population.
- Robert F. Nardini, North Chichester, N.H.
Copyright 1991 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 478 pages
  • Publisher: Aletheia Pubns Inc (June 1, 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0963926039
  • ISBN-13: 978-0963926036
  • Product Dimensions: 1.2 x 5 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (114 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,627,375 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
I also found this book to be incredibly insightful. Those 'brats' who criticize the book are apparently ignoring the fact that Mary Edward Wertch is merely reporting what she learned from interviewing real people.
I think it especially struck home for me since I'm a 2nd generation army brat, my mother having been brought up by an army lifer. My parents met in post-occupation Germany, where my grandfather was CO of a US base and my father was a young officer. They married on base there and I was born two years later in New Orleans. The roller coaster ride didn't stop till I left home at 18, but still I never lived anywhere more than three years at a time till I reached the age of 30. I'm still a perpetual traveler, having chosen a career (guidebook writing) that has kept me on the road -- still great at saying hello and goodbye, not so great at the stuff in between.
I certainly have experienced many of the same ups and downs outlined in Military Brats, and like others I found it very therapeutic reading. I generally loathe self-help or pop pysch books, but this one's different - at least for me. My mother and father both refused to read it and I still haven't got my sister to read it. That says something right there ...
Being a writer myself, I know what kind of effort it takes to put together a book like this. Congratulations to Wertch.
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Format: Paperback
A great read, although as many readers point out, it does have a rather negative viewpoint. It may be because I was a brat in the eighties, I don't know. Perhaps because my parents were well aware of the dangers of alcohol and instilled that healthy respect in me. I only spent eight years as a brat, but continued to move at least every two years until I graduated from high school. Fortunately my dad was a terrific father, a peaceful warrior. My parents were strict, and expectations were high, but our family is so much closer than most of my civilian friends'. We brats learn and live by respect, a concept alien to many civilians. This book sent chills of recognition up my spine. It explains so much about who I am, about my terrific people skills and yet the ability to leave best friends behind without a backward glance. It speaks of my unfailing patriotism, that no matter what the President and the government does, I reamain absolutely loyal to my country and the blood of the patriots that built this land. But most of all this novel gives me the hometown I never had. Now when people ask where I am from (that dreaded question for every brat) I simply say I'm an Army brat. A good book, I would recommend it for all brats. For every kid who's ever served (brat or soldier) and those still inside the fortress, a salute.
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Format: Paperback
As a military brat (OK, a Navy Junior) I have found Ms. Wertsch's observations and analysis applicable in part to my own life or applicable in other parts to my fellow brats. What I recall most of her book is that so many of us choose to serve our country, not necessarily in the military. Many of us are in the social service or caring professions. It is a sense of duty drilled into us from the beginnings. Another significant cultural description she observes is how the "Brats" take on the values of their lead warrior, even if those values and resultant behaviors would be dysfunctional in a civilian society. Those values enculturated by the different branches of the services still influence us in our adulthoods, even though we may have joined civilian life., As a cultural anthropologist I believe she did an excellent job of describing a culture in the ethnographic present. She may not be explicative, but she definitely is descriptive of how we lived and the our parents and our acceptance of the reasons for the rules. Sometimes, I believe that only we, Brats, our peers from other cultures, and the diplomatic corp offspring can really understand what our lives were like and what the lives of our successors are like, even in light of such an excellent ethnography.
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Format: Paperback
This book changed the way I view myself as a military brat. I've recently begun to research topics related to military families, and military brats. Being an Air Force brat, I have a lot of questions and issues that I'm trying to get through as a result of my childhood. Reading this book was an emotional roller-coaster for me. It made me realize that I'm not the only military brat with the feelings and issues I have.

However, this book is targeted to an older generation. I'm 20 and my father never served in either of the World Wars, he barely served in the mess in the Middle-East. Many of the military brats interviewed for this book had fathers that were wounded (or killed) in WW2. But I've found that most of the information out there for military brats revolvs around that time-frame.

I would recommend this book to any military-brat, especially those that are trying to deal with the effects of their childhood.
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Format: Paperback
It's been over 10 years since I originally bought this book. Mary Edwards Wertsch did not reach her own conclusions about life as a brat, but instead brought together through interviews, scores of of us to share their life experiences. Even at age 53, I still cannot answer a simple question, "Where are you from?" It also clearly documents that life in the military is not a job, but a career experience for an entire family.
This book illustrates the challenges many of us faced growing up and the similarities we have had in adulthood. It also helps brats, like myself, understand some of the public service values we inherited from years of family public service.
I have bought five copies to share with other friends who are brats. The stories in this book served as a unifying experience for all of us.
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