I read the book before seeing the movie. Based on a true story, the movie captures the essence of the book. A very fallible, but talented young man is influenced by the events of his time and does what most of us would consider the right thing by signing up to serve his country. Unfortunately, what he was told and the "ground truth" turn out to be two different things and his ideals are shattered by a series of agonizing events that leave his body and psyche ruined and almost hopelessly broken. The homecoming scene is possibly my all time favorite movie scene. Difficult and painful to watch, it is a scene that was repeated in thousands of households across the country in the late 60s and early 70s as thousands of traumatized GIs returned home to a nation that had somehow changed, grown, a nation in confusion, a nation of shattered ideals, less innocent. The homecoming scene captures every aspect of this new, alien world, from the confused, sympathetic looks of the neighbors to the new clothing styles, new hair cuts. The country was experiencing Woodstock and Altamount, Watergate, the moon landing, Charles Manson, the fall of Saigon, protesters burning flags. America had changed and Kovac must find his place in this new, foreign, less idealistic world. Incredibly, Kovac triumphs against all odds, growing stronger, deeper from a prolonged agony that most of us can't even begin to fathom. His spirit triumphs over his devastated body to become an elected politician. His amazing transformation is completed in the final scene as he goes from an innocent young boy to a wheel-chaired politician speaking to millions of people. Truly one of the greatest movies ever made.