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In the Lake of the Woods: A Novel Kindle Edition
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Vietnam veteran John Wade is running for senate when long-hidden secrets about his involvement in wartime atrocities come to light. But the loss of his political fortunes is only the beginning of John’s downfall. A retreat with his wife, Kathy, to a lakeside cabin in northern Minnesota only exacerbates the tensions rising between them. Then, within days of their arrival, Kathy mysteriously vanishes into the watery wilderness.
When a police search fails to locate her, suspicion falls on the disgraced politician with a violent past. But when John himself disappears, the questions mount—with no answers in sight. In this contemplative thriller, acclaimed author Tim O’Brien examines America’s legacy of violence and warfare and its lasting impact both at home and abroad.
About the Author
TIM O’BRIEN received the 1979 National Book Award for Going After Cacciato. Among his other books are The Things They Carried, Pulitzer Finalist and a New York Times Book of the Century, and In the Lake of the Woods, winner of the James Fenimore Cooper Prize. He was awarded the Pritzker Literature Award for lifetime achievement in military writing in 2013.
From Kirkus Reviews
- ASIN : B00860Z1BY
- Publisher : Mariner Books; 1st edition (September 1, 2006)
- Publication date : September 1, 2006
- Language : English
- File size : 1711 KB
- Text-to-Speech : Enabled
- Screen Reader : Supported
- Enhanced typesetting : Enabled
- X-Ray : Enabled
- Word Wise : Enabled
- Print length : 322 pages
- Lending : Enabled
- Best Sellers Rank: #132,251 in Kindle Store (See Top 100 in Kindle Store)
- Customer Reviews:
About the author
Reviews with images
Top reviews from the United States
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If you want an unvarnished, well-written, completely readable testimony to the on-the-ground trials and tribulations of being a ground-pounder soldier in a ground war in Asia, read these books. It might help you understand why those are not good battles in which to engage.
Wade took some part in the murders but re-enlists to make up for his involvement & out of loyalty to his company. Yet, an evil war only draws the participant further into evil. Getting a desk job, Wade expunges his record in the massacre & gives himself a new military identity. After his service, he goes to law school & marries his college sweetheart. He sees politics a way to redeem himself through public service for the common good. When investigative journalist, Seymour Hersh, exposed the army's cover-up of its My Lai massacre, Wade, although he covered up his involvement, is eventually ferreted out & his run for U. S. Senate from Minnesota crashes. He avoids psychiatric treatment for PSTD. His behavior becomes more erratic & furtive. His wife is relieved not to be a politician's wife anymore, but her reaction to his war record, about which she had previously shown no interest, is ambiguous. Awaking one morning to find that while she slept, he had poured boiling water on all of their house plants, she apparently takes the small boat & small motor onto the big lake to think things over. It appears that O'Brien is being omniscient here & relating her thoughts & actions, but later, when she has disappeared, that version seems only speculative. The reader is left wondering what happened to her & various characters advance several theories, none of which feels satisfactory. O'Brien is said to have worked for 6 years on the book & it ends with the Sorcerer seemingly performing another magic trick & Wade's metaphor for perfect marriage of two snakes swallowing each other suggests the plot as a snake swallowing its tail.
Top reviews from other countries
In The Lake of the Woods, first published in 1994, and therefore written some twenty years after active USA involvement in that war, has as its meta-theme, war, and the thin layers of reasoned, tender humanity which we build over - not our animal nature, but something which arises from our consciousness and the complexity of rationality itself.
O' Brien was a vet, and that experience - and, he suggests, the experience of that entire generation is now buried deep, and therefore, not always clearly seen, in the psyche of modern American. What is deep-denied cannot be engaged with, worked with, used and transformed.
John Wade, a rising Democrat politician suddenly, crushingly defeated in primaries, following the revelation of forged military history which hid his involvement in Charlie-1 platoon (the My Lai massacre), escapes the media circus by holing up in Lake Of The Woods, an isolated part of Minnesota, with his beloved wife, Kathy. Then Kathy disappears.
This can indeed be read on one level as a mystery or thriller. But it is also a portrait of not just a nation with festering wounds, but of this tendency to darkness within collective and individual psyche.
The interesting structure of the book weaves `the facts' of the story of John and Kathy, (fictional characters) with police and procedural enquiries. Some of these are fictional - but interwoven with these, as the character of Wade and his background in Charlie-1 emerges, are real reports from enquiries into My Lai, and what happened. And lest anyone thinks the atrocities were particular only to that time and place, other writings, other reports are cited, into the whole history of young America and How The West Was Won - and early British settlers, too, when this side of the pond thought America was ours.
"There is a line that a man dare not cross, deeds he dare not commit, regardless of orders and the hopelessness of the situation, for such deeds would destroy something in him that he values more than life itself" J. Glenn Gray, The Warriors : Reflections On Men In Battle, quoted in this book.
O' Brien is a subtle, complex writer, delving deeply into nuances of collective and individual psychology - he postulates many versions for what `might have happened' to Kathy, in chapters of Hypothesis, and refuses, and explains why he refuses, to give the reader the easy fictional, tied-up, wrapped up end.
Partly a clearly argued, unfolding look at what is unresolved, at skeletons in cupboards, partly a beautifully chilling thriller, it is also a darker exploration into something which does not sit well with a society which tries to rationally categorise, weigh and measure everything, - the possibility of more ancient forces - does sin itself exist, does evil?. The Ancient Greeks may well have found stories like these easier to understand than a society which believes darkness can always be banished by fluorescent strip lights. The brighter the light, the darker the shadow.
What resonates for me in O' Brien's writing, is his ability, as writer, to sneak up into the face of the reader, and address him/her directly, to remind us this is story, but where story comes from, to make the reader take a long, cool, gravely thoughtful look at themselves in the mirror. What lies beneath the surface you recognise? Whose is the face beneath the practiced mask? And dare you even look? This is a fine writer indeed, who can entertain whilst extending, instructing, and maybe even fulfilling the role of shaman, rending the veil between the seen and the unimagined.
"This could not have happened. Therefore it did not
Already he felt better"
I held off from that final star as I felt many of the quoted sources were repeating information, re-iterating points already made, so some of these sources could have been cut, making the book tighter, and with even more deadly punch
Most of Tim O'Brien's work seems to be related more or less closely to the Vietnam war, of which he is a veteran. Here it forms but a background to the failed political career of John Wade, the protagonist. The book begins as Wade retires to the seclusion of a northern lakeside cottage with his wife Kathy. Wade's secrets reach farther back than his two-year stint in the south Asian jungle. But as Kathy leaves without warning, the plot comes to revolve around her disappearance. O'Brien makes a convincingly intricate rendering of the relationship between the Wades, itself at the heart of Kathy's vanishing trick. The onion is slowly peeled and the story well paced. Both entertaining and interesting.