The Faith Middleton Show
10:39 am
Mon July 1, 2013

Authors of Tokyo Vice and Wandering Souls

Jake Adelstein is the only American journalist ever to have been admitted to the insular Tokyo Metropolitan Police Press Club, where for twelve years he covered the dark side of Japan: extortion, murder, human trafficking, fiscal corruption, and of course, the yakuza. But when his final scoop exposed a scandal that reverberated all the way from the neon soaked streets of Tokyo to the polished Halls of the FBI and resulted in a death threat for him and his family, Adelstein decided to step down. Then, he fought back. In Tokyo Vice he delivers an unprecedented look at Japanese culture and searing memoir about his rise from cub reporter to seasoned journalist with a price on his head.

On March 19, 1969, First Lieutenant Homer Steedly, Jr. turned a bend in a trail in the Pleiku Province and came face to face with a North Vietnamese soldier, his weapon slung over his shoulder. The two stared at each other for an instant: a split-second later, Homer’s bullets smashed into the chest of a young medic named Hoang Ngoc Dam.

In the dead man's pockets, Homer found a notebook filled with beautiful line drawings, which he sent back to his mother. Thirty-five years later, Homer opened the book and discovered the drawings of the man who had wanted to become a healer. He made a vow to return the book to the dead man's family if they could be found, and in seeking their forgiveness perhaps to find some release from the war that had defined his life.

Wandering Souls is the story of his return to Vietnam. Award-winning author and fellow veteran Wayne Karlin accompanied Homer on this journey, one that awoke, and brought to rest Homer's painful memories of the war. With eloquence and deep understanding, Karlin reveals the startling similarities between the parallel lives of Homer and Dam; recounts Homer’s years of trauma and his slow movement towards a recovery that could only come about through confrontation with the ghosts of his past—and the need of Dam's family to bring their brother's "wandering soul" to peace. Karlin entwines their lives with the stories of Vietnamese and American writers, families, exiles and veterans met along the way, all of whom need to capture, contemplate and decipher meaning from their war.

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