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The Taste of Metal: A Deserter’s Story

“Jack Todd made a fateful decision in 1969. A farm boy from a time and place where the obligation to serve in the military was taken for granted, Todd had just completed basic training at an army post near Seattle when he opted to take a Vietnam-veteran friend’s advice and slip across the border into British Columbia rather than risk his life fighting in an unpopular war. His life in Canada was by no means easy; he spent time on Skid Row among fellow deserters and draft evaders, many of them parasitical criminals, and, although he was a veteran journalist, he had to start from scratch at a Vancouver paper, slowly winning the acceptance of his colleagues.rnrn”Todd renounced his American citizenship, which made him one of a handful of Vietnam-era deserters to have been ineligible for the general amnesty offered during Jimmy Carter’s presidency–he could not even return to the United States for his mother’s funeral. In this graceful memoir, Todd revisits what he calls his “absurd decision” to leave his country. Absurd, in part, because he later discovered he would not have been sent to Vietnam at all, but was instead slated to serve as a military journalist in Germany. For that decision he has many regrets, although he has clearly made a good life for himself in his adopted country. The cost was perhaps too great, though: “The effect of forced exile is felt not in any sudden tearing away but in the corrosive loss, over a period of time, of too many of the things that make you who you are.”” – Gregory McNamee

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