The Big Buddha Bicycle Race transports the reader to upcountry Thailand and war-ravaged Laos late in the Vietnam War. On one level a cross-cultural wartime love story, it is also a surreal remembrance of two groups who have been erased from American history—the brash active-duty soldiers who risked prison by taking part in the GI anti-war movement and the gutsy air commandThe Big Buddha Bicycle Race transports the reader to upcountry Thailand and war-ravaged Laos late in the Vietnam War. On one level a cross-cultural wartime love story, it is also a surreal remembrance of two groups who have been erased from American history—the brash active-duty soldiers who risked prison by taking part in the GI anti-war movement and the gutsy air commandos who risked death night after night flying over the Ho Chi Minh Trail. Brendan Leary, assigned to an Air Force photo squadron an hour from L.A., has got it made—until the U.S. invades Cambodia and he joins his buddies (and a few thousand Southern California co-eds) who march in protest. First Sergeant Link ships him off to an obscure air base in upcountry Thailand, but even then Brendan figures he’ll be working in an air-conditioned trailer editing combat footage for the 601st Photo Squadron, a useful detour on his way to Hollywood. He expects to return unscathed from what he knows is a screwed-up war, only Brendan is wrong. The Rat Pack needs cameramen and Leary is soon flying at night over the Ho Chi Minh Trail in a secret air war that turns the mountains of Laos into a napalm-scorched moonscape. He realizes he is trapped, his heart and mind divided between awe at the courage of the warriors he flies with and pity for the convoys of Vietnamese soldiers he sees slaughtered on the ground. As his moral fiber crumbles, he is seduced by a netherworld of drugs, booze…and a strung-out masseuse named Tukada. The Big Buddha Bicycle Race is a last gasp of hope, a project he dreams up that will coincide with Nixon's arrival in China, win hearts and minds in rural Thailand—and make him and his underpaid buddies a pile of money. The start of the race is glorious! Entrants from every Thai and American unit on the base mean big bucks for Leary’s syndicate. Except there’s a problem. Tukada has disappeared and Leary’s sidekick insists her brother is a terrorist... Praise for The Big Buddha Bicycle Race “Postmodern and poetic, heartfelt and compassionate, full of sad longing and dawning awareness.” —Jeanne Rosenberg, screenwriter of The Black Stallion and Natty Gann “The real deal—epic yet personal, filled with cynicism, sorrow, and hopefulness—as Brendan, the narrator, takes the reader with him on an illuminating journey from lost innocence to agonizing self-discovery.” —Susan Craig, senior story analyst at Warner Brothers About the Author Terence Harkin served with the 601st and has returned many times to Thailand and Laos, living in Buddhist monasteries; interviewing Air America crewmen, CIA agents, and Lao soldiers; revisiting old Air Force haunts at Ubon, Udorn, and NKP; and trekking the Ho Chi Minh Trail....
|Title||:||The Big Buddha Bicycle Race|
|Format Type||:||Kindle Edition|
|Number of Pages||:||429 Pages|
|Status||:||Available For Download|
|Last checked||:||21 Minutes ago!|
The Big Buddha Bicycle Race Reviews
‘Cremation was merciful in the jungle.’New Jersey author Terence A. Harkin appears to split his addresses between New Jersey and Thailand, though scouting his biographical information it appears he covers even more territory. He earned his BA in English-American Literature from Brown University while spending weekends touring New England with bands that opened for such luminaries as Jimi Hendrix, he also is a playwright (“Resurrection’), served in the US Air Force with the 601st during the war (writing the 1971 history of the combat photo unit he served with at Ubon Royal Thai Air Force Base, Thailand), earned his MFA at the University of Southern California, and spent 25 years as a Hollywood cameraman (‘Designing Women’, ‘Goodbye Girl’, ‘Seinfeld’, and MASH, etc). He credits his working as a cameraman on MASH and the six-hour mini-series of From Here to Eternity as having a powerful effect--in both style and scope--on the writing of Big Buddha, a wartime love story filled with the possibility of healing and redemption from the traumas of both love and war.Terence understands the permutations of war – on soldiers, victims of the countries at war, and the indelible impact the experience of war has on relationships while also seeing the power of forgiveness and healing and redemption in the aftermath. His prose echoes that sound and senses of battle, as a brief excerpt demonstrates: ‘I didn’t meet Harley until I stood toe to toe with Death. A warrior, an Air Commando, he taught me how to laugh at it and fear it and quash it away and never quite ignore it. Nothing in my Boston childhood had equipped me for the realities of Southeast Asia— the smooth, cool pages of National Geographic magazines stacked in our attic in the outskirts of Boston made Indochina look like Eden. It was Harley who prepared me for combat, accidentally preparing me for monkhood along the way. But in my vision I knew that Tech Sergeant Baker was as doomed as President Kennedy. And I could see my own soul, lost in the void, lost along the sidelines of the Big Buddha Bicycle Race. My mind skids past fading memories I want to recall and lands in catastrophe on days past I have forgotten just as vividly as days I never lived at all. It must have been the whiskey. Or the red-rock heroin. How did we survive the plane crash? It seemed so real when the North Vietnamese took us prisoner. Why do I still dream of fire and fear a candle burning in the night? Who was Tukada? Baker survived two crashes, but didn’t he kill himself shooting up speed? Why aren’t I certain? What has happened to my mind?’As one synopsis of this huge story distills, ‘ Brendan Leary, assigned to an Air Force photo squadron an hour from L.A., had it made—until the U.S. invades Cambodia and he is shipped off to an obscure air base in upcountry Thailand, but even then Brendan figures he’ll be working in an air-conditioned trailer editing film for the 601st Photo Flight, a useful detour on his way to Hollywood. Only Brendan is wrong. He soon finds himself flying at night over the Ho Chi Minh Trail in a secret air war that turns the mountains of Laos into a napalm-scorched moonscape. He realizes he is trapped, his heart and mind divided between awe at the courage of the warriors he flies with and pity for the convoys of Vietnamese soldiers he sees slaughtered on the ground. As his moral fiber crumbles, he is seduced by a netherworld of drugs, booze…and a strung-out masseuse named Tukada. The Big Buddha Bicycle Race is a last gasp of hope, a project he dreams up timed to match Nixon's arrival in China that can win over hearts and minds in rural Thailand—and make him and his underpaid buddies a pile of money. It is both cross-cultural wartime love story and a surreal remembrance of two groups who have been erased from American history—the brash active-duty soldiers who risked prison by taking part in the GI anti-war movement and the gutsy air commandos who risked death night after night flying over the Ho Chi Minh Trail.Fine as THE BIG BUDDHA BICYCLE RACE is as a novel, it is a journey that will shake all veterans of all wars – especially that echo of Vietnam that remains a glimmer in the flares of the chaos of the various wars in the Middle East that continue to confuse the world. There is a lot of memoir flavor to this tome, a fact that makes it even more pungent. But what Terence has managed to do is to extend the hand of redemption for all the agony of war – and that fact adds to the importance of this very fine book. Highly Recommended.
Another interesting read for me. I purchased this book because it was written by an acquaintance of mine from high school. Having been of the pacifist persuasion in the late 60s and early 70s, this book really struck a chord with me. It was well written and transported me back emotionally to that time in my life. Recommended for anyone who wants (or not) to remember a glorious and devastating time in American history. Well done, Terry.
A moving and beautifully written account of a soldier's journey through the Viet Nam war. Thinking he'd sit out the war at a desk job in the States, Brendan Leary finds himself on an air force base in Thailand. Assigned to a photo squadron, he spends his days editing footage of burning villages at a time when Nixon was telling America we were no longer bombing Viet Nam. Bored and disgusted, he is slowly drawn off base into an underworld of drugs, nightclubs, and pretty Thai women looking for American men. Poetic and raw. A must read for anyone who loves historical fiction.
Absorbing ChronicleIt starts slow, took me some time to get into it, but that’s because I don’t normally read chronicles. This one set in 1971 Thailand gets interesting the longer you keep with it. Written in straightforward English, it is articulate and mildly introspective. As a war photographer the protagonist, narrating in first person, seems to underplay it a lot until you get to the end and the ugliness is exposed. A sweet and engrossing tale.
A wonderful read..In-depth knowledge and experiences. I felt like I was there. He explores Vietnam and other areas.A must read...
a little long and rambling but fun read, 3.3?
When I was a young teenager the Vietnam War was going on and I really didn't understand what was REALLY going on. I remember the Peace marches going on protesting Vietnam War and how our soldiers shouldn't be fighting there. After reading this book I now have a better understanding what was happening and why there was so much dissension about the Vietnam War. In this story, the author, Terence Harkin, takes you to the heart of this war in this work of fiction. The main character in this book, Branden Leary, is drafted and assigned to an Air Force photo squadron near L.A. where he edits combat footage, thinking he has a great assignment until the U.S. invades Cambodia. Brendan and his buddies decide as conscientious objectors to march in a protest with a few thousand others over the U.S. invasion of Cambodia which gets Brendan and his buddies in big trouble with the Air Force. This gets Brandan shipped off to a remote airbase in Thailand. With this assignment, he figures he will still be safe and not anywhere near where the fighting and bombing are going on, but he soon finds out the Air Force has other ideas from him. Now they want him to fly at night over the Ho Chi Minh Trail as a cameraman with The Rat Pack as he photographs the missions they go out on. The killing and fighting he sees drive Brendan to drugs and booze as he tries to hold on to his sanity. With President Nixon coming to China Brendan plans to film the race which coincides with his arrival. But with any great plans, problems arise for Brendan as he his cohorts tries to film his race, will he come of this alive and get his life back on track and return to the woman he loves?
A really interesting journey through SE Asia in the 70s. A great read for anyone travelling to Vietnam, or those interested in the history of the area.