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November 03 , 2009

Wandering Souls

Journeys With the Dead and the Living in Viet Nam


On March 19, 1969, First Lieutenant Homer R. Steedly, Jr., shot and killed a North Vietnamese soldier, Dam, when they met on a jungle trail. Steedly took a diary-filled with beautiful line drawings-from the body of the dead soldier, which he subsequently sent to his mother for safekeeping. Thirty-five years later, Steedly rediscovers the forgotten dairy and begins to confront his suppressed memories of the war that defined his life, deciding to return to Viet Nam and meet the family of the man he killed to seek their forgiveness.

Fellow veteran and award-winning author Wayne Karlin accompanied Steedly on his remarkable journey. In Wandering Souls he recounts Homer’s movement towards a recovery that could only come about through a confrontation with the ghosts of his past-and the need of Dam’s family to bring their child’s “wandering soul” to his own peace.

Wandering Souls limns the terrible price of war on soldiers and their loved ones, and reveals that we heal not by forgetting war’s hard lessons, but by remembering its costs.

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