The Soldier Factory (Hardcover)

A Window

By Ed Salven

George Braziller, 9780807615720, 160pp.

Publication Date: June 1, 2006

List Price: 24.95*
* Individual store prices may vary.


A former soldier's poignant search for meaning in the American military experience.

When Ed Salven returned after thirty years to Fort Ord, where he was stationed in the late 1960s, he found a ghost town. The once bustling Sixth Army Infantry Processing Center in northern California sat in silent decay, and he was overwhelmed by recollections of his time there as a young draftee. Those memories became the basis for The Soldier Factory, a moving collection of meditations on being a part of the U.S. military machine at the height of the Vietnam War and on the essential questions Salven and his fellow soldiers confronted dealing with violence, authority, self-worth, honor, loss, and love.

Salven's reflections are accompanied by a series of paintingsvivid, anonymous portraits of soldiers. Fort Ord, once a community of more than 30,000 soldiers, was closed in the late 1990s; these paintings are now being used as window covers on several abandoned barracks. Also included are color photographs of the fort and the surrounding landscape in its strangely beautiful state today.

Veterans and soldiers alike will find this book particularly meaningful, as will anyone seeking to better understand this important period in U.S. history and its impact on those who lived through it. By turns amusing and heartbreaking, The Soldier Factory has the quiet, reverent quality of a memorial. Color illustrations throughout.