Round Trip, Looneyville/Tokyo Second Edition

Miller put the book together, but the real story is told by the ordinary people who were the cogs that made the big wheels of the United States government grind through poverty, peacetime, and war. The first part of Miller's narrative is a brief history of the early part of the 20th century and the great depression. The book depicts who the lively and hilarious young people were who went off to World War II, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, and other military actions, and where they came from. A large portion of the book then follows the ups and downs of the common man's experience from the opening offensive military campaign to regain control of the Pacific from the Japanese until the end of that war, the Korean War, and Vietnam War.

Miller inserts vivid descriptions about the adventures of many coastguardsmen, marine, sailors, soldiers, and US Navy Seabees in going to sea in wartime on an amphibious ship. The veterans tell of their awesome loneliness and fear; they speak of the plain hard work and a life filled with uncertainties for those who had to go overseas and the ones left behind. There are some vivid descriptions about how wartime changed the lives of the children of the great depression and how enormous spans of time can never be recovered.

There seems to be a feeling among the wartime veterans that coming home from a military clash is liberation from hardship, not necessarily a celebration. There is a bit of scorn directed at the civilian establishment's position in some of the military skirmishes in the latter part of the twentieth century. In particular, Jake Miller points out the verbal abuse wrongly directed at the veterans returning overseas from unpopular military operations. However, unlike so many veterans, Miller leaves us with the notion that after the last good war, a gracious United States government kept their promise to the men who were supposed to "whip hell out of the Japs and be home in ninety days." In short order, Miller explains Uncle Sam's promise was free education, sufficient job opportunities, and plenty of food. He claims that no other nation in the history of warfare did as much for their warriors. There is some scolding of the Japanese hierarchy. But Jake Miller writes that the ordinary Japanese fighting man performed his duties consciously and bravely. Who was wrong--Japan or the United States? Miller opines that both sides did what had to be done in the field of battle and there is little reason for either side to be offering apologies to each other.

The conclusion of this book attests to a shared sense of accomplishment among the United States veterans: They have done the duty set before them--the triumph of survival and achievement.

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