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Cover for Snake's Daughter

Snake's Daughter

The Roads in and out of War (Singular Lives)

Gail Hosking Gilberg, Albert E. Stone (Foreword by)


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Gail Hosking Gilberg's father was a hero, a valiant soldier decorated posthumously with the Medal of Honor, a man who served his country throughout his entire adult life. But Charles Hosking was a mystery to his daughter. He was killed in Vietnam a week after her seventeenth birthday. She buried the war, the protests, the medal, and her military upbringing along with her father, so much so that she felt cut off from herself. It took more than twenty years for her to recognize the stirrings of a father and a daughter not yet at peace.

Gilberg began a journey—two journeys really—to find out who her father was and in the process to find herself. She explored her buried rage, shame, and silence, and examined how war had shaped her life. In studying the photo albums that her father had left behind, Gilberg found that the photographs demanded that she give voice to her feelings, then release her silent words, words that had no meaning in war for her father yet had all the meaning in the world for her. The result was an epiphany. The photographs became the roads she took in and out of war, and her words brought her father home. Snake's Daughter reveals the crossroads where a soldier father's life and a daughter's life connect.

Snake's Daughter is an arresting and anguished narrative that gives voice to an experience Gail Hosking Gilberg shares with thousands of Americans, including military “brats” whose parents served their country and often gave their lives in the process.

Praise For Snake's Daughter: The Roads in and out of War (Singular Lives)

“Gilberg's eye for detail, her patient and informed study of her father's photographs, reward the reader, allowing him or her to enter into the most personal of Gilberg's musings and thereby to feel like a participant, not an eavesdropper. The fundamental damage done to Gilberg's life was her father's death in 1967; he died a hero, but in many ways was no such thing to his wife and daughters. A mother now herself, Gilberg wrestles with the implications of her father's choice: of country over family, duty over responsibility. What makes Snake's Daughter so worthwhile is the degree to which Gilberg focuses on the largest possible questions, spinning out from her cocoon of personal drama to include not only all war babies but all who have suffered from a missing parent, regardless of circumstances…This is artfully and indelibly written, and in it are posed the fundamental questions of Snake's Daughter. This is not a book merely about Vietnam or a Vietnam daughter; this is a testament to how loss permeates the fabric of everyday living, tattooing us with questions we can never rub off…a strong and thoughtful journey into the power of what we remember, and what we need to remember.”—Joe Bonomo, Georgia Review

“Destiny assigns the daughters of fallen soldiers the most painful duty, to transform the eternally accumulating sorrows of war into a healing sense of peace, recovery, and reunion. After these many years of America's half-hearted reconciliations, public and private, Gail Gilberg closes the circle on the Vietnam era and our fragmented culture's long convalescence, providing in once and for all with terminal punctuation. I can't imagine any reader not being profoundly moved by Snake's Daughter.”—Bob Shacochis

University Of Iowa Press, 9780877455868, 224pp.

Publication Date: May 1, 1997