Friendly FireThe true story of Michael Mullen, a soldier killed in Vietnam, and his parents’ quest for the truth from the US government: “Brilliantly done” (The Boston Globe).
Drafted into the US Army, Michael Mullen left his family’s Iowa farm in September 1969 to fight for his country in Vietnam. Six months later, he returned home in a casket. Michael wasn’t killed by the North Vietnamese, but by artillery fire from friendly forces. With the government failing to provide the precise circumstances of his death, Mullen’s devastated parents, Peg and Gene, demanded to know the truth. A year later, Peg Mullen was under FBI surveillance.
In a riveting narrative that moves from the American heartland to the jungles of Vietnam to the Vietnam Veterans Against the War march in Washington, DC, to an interview with Mullen’s battalion commander, Lt. Col. H. Norman Schwarzkopf, author C. D. B. Bryan brings to life with brilliant clarity a military mission gone horrifically wrong, a patriotic family’s explosive confrontation with their government, and the tragedy of a nation at war with itself.
Originally intended to be an interview for the New Yorker, the story Bryan uncovered proved to be bigger than he expected, and it was serialized in three consecutive issues during February and March 1976, and was eventually published as a book that May. In 1979, Friendly Fire was made into an Emmy Award–winning TV movie, starring Carol Burnett, Ned Beatty, and Sam Waterston.
This ebook features an illustrated biography of C. D. B. Bryan, including rare images from the author’s estate.
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“The great war stories do not deal solely with the death of soldiers but with the death of idealism, and Bryan’s handling of that theme is certainly the finest that has come out of the Vietnam War.” —The New York Times Book Review
“Not since Truman Capote’s In Cold Blood . . . has there been as powerful, as emotional a piece of non-fiction.” —The Washington Star
“A gripping tale, a masterpiece . . . Begin this book and you may well not be able to put it down until you have consumed it.” —Cleveland Press
“A triumph . . . Bryan has entered an elusive realm of universal truths related to war. . . . He engages us—in a way that no Vietnam polemic or slogan or documentary or drama yet has.” —Chicago Sun-Times
“C.D.B. Bryan has dramatized the tragedy [of Vietnam] as it has never been dramatized before. . . . Powerful . . . I found myself close to tears of rage and frustration.” —The New York Times
“To read this book is to weep, to despair and ultimately to cheer. . . . It is a work of passionate energy.” —The Washington Post Book World
“Writing so fine, so brilliantly done, that it sometimes seems as if Eugene O’Neill were alive and well and practicing journalism.” —The Boston Globe
“Great visceral power and emotional impact.” —Publishers Weekly
“As close to elemental tragedy as any nonfiction account to come out of the war. Bryan conveys Peg Mullen’s grief and rage with such purity and tact that at times she seems like a Middle Western Antigone.” —Time
“Powerfully affecting . . . A dramatic comment on what the war did to America.” —Saturday Review
“Records the entire spectrum of attitudes and emotions, moral issues and political viewpoints which embroiled America over Vietnam . . . Bryan has documented a situation which details the paradox of war.” —The Christian Science Monitor
About the author
C. D. B. Bryan (1936–2009) is an award-winning author of nonfiction books, novels, and magazine articles. After graduating from Yale University, where he was chairman of the campus humor magazine, and serving in the army in Korea, Bryan wrote for numerous magazines, including the New Yorker, Harper’s, Esquire, Rolling Stone, and the New York Times BookReview, and taught writing at Colorado State University and the University of Iowa Writers’ Workshop. His other works include Close Encounters of the Fourth Kind, an account of his attending an MIT conference on alien abductions and UFOs, and several coffee table books about the National Geographic Society and the National Air and Space Museum, as well as the novels TheGreat Dethriffe and BeautifulWomen, Ugly Scenes.