A Novel of an American Family's Cold War Years
About the Book
Century's Child is the saga of the Richards family, whose protagonist describes the interaction of his family, typical of tens of thousands like it, with the military and political history of this country, from 1900 to 1998, with a single flashback to November, 1864 (Sherman's March to the Sea), and a flash-over to the Somme, July 1, 1916.
The setting is principally a Midwestern city, but over half the action takes place at multiple scattered Army posts, in South Vietnam, and in Arabia.
The first-person protagonist is determined to break out of the blue-collar world, to break the mold of generations of skilled labor, and feels driven to see just how far he can rise. He wants to do something to make the world better, and perhaps to make a difference in its history. And it is not in him to say "die."
Medical school is the logical first choice; in 1954 he begins pre-med, the first of the Richards clan to do so.
His weaknesses are almost overwhelming in the 1950s; no money (no student loans then), no family endorsement ("maybe we should keep to our place"), a disastrous failed engagement to the love of his life, minimal skills to cope with adversity, and probably most importantly, he is not as intelligent as he believes that he is.
The antagonist is the established order, which is fuelled by the sweat of the blue-collar class. The fewer of the establishment that there are, the more fuel is available to each of them. The Establishment is easy to identify; you can tell by the way that its members treat anyone who cannot retaliate. And its great strength lies principally in its incumbency.
The conflict is not in whether the protagonist will succeed in breaking away into upward mobility; that becomes obvious early in the narrative, but in demonstrating how, first with the help of intensive military training, and then with a year in Vietnam, which makes up half the book, he does it.
About the Author
Walter D. Rodgers is the pseudonym of a retired family physician who lives across the Narrows from Tacoma, Washington.
Dr. Rodgers is a life member of the American Academy of Family Physicians, who practiced in the American Southwest for 33 years. He has been board-certified in family practice since 1975.
He has served as a hospital chief of staff, vice-chief of staff, and as chairman of numerous hospital staff committees and departments. He was elected president of his home district's division of the American Medical Association in 1987 for a two-year term. He was an adjunct professor of family medicine from 1980 to 1994, and an assistant professor in the same department from 1995 till his retirement in 1998.
Dr. Rodgers represents the generation born in to the Great Depression, which grew up during World War II, and who were the active members of the force-in-being that, over forty-five years, won the Cold War.
Dr. Rodgers served as an enlisted man in the peacetime Army of the 1950s, and was commissioned after completion of Field Artillery Officer Candidate School in 1961. He changed his branch assignment to Medical Corps upon graduation from the Kansas City College of Osteopathy and Surgery in 1966.
The author has also been awarded the Combat Medical Badge, the Bronze Star Medal, the Army Meritorious Service Medal, five Army Commendation Medals, the Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry with bronze star device, plus seven other lesser decorations and is entitled to wear the ribbons of three unit citations. He is a qualified military parachutist. In 1985 he was named a Distinguished member of the 502d Infantry Regiment (Airborne) based on his combat service in Vietnam.
Dr. Rodgers is a life member of the American Academy of Family Physicians, the Association Military Surgeons on the United States, of the Veterans of Foreign Wars, and of the Disabled American Veterans.
The author is also a graduate of the National Defense University, Class of 1990. His thesis was a comparative study of ethical behavior in the military and in civilian society.
Dr. Rodgers served for one year in Vietnam and for six months during Operation Desert Shield.
Additionally, he served 42 years in the Army Reserve's Active Troop Unit Program, retiring as a full colonel in 1996.
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