Author Interview: Stan Adams

Posted on Wednesday, August 12, 2020 by Dewey Decimal Diver

Stan Adams is a mid-Missouri author who recently came out with his debut book “Mokane to Mole City.” Adams grew up in the small town of Mokane, Missouri, and was drafted in the Summer of 1968, spending a year as a combat infantryman on the front lines of the Vietnam War. Fifty years later, through a photographic history, this book recounts his journey from rural Missouri to the jungles of Vietnam. Last year he gave a talk about the book at the Callaway County Public Library and also showcased the book at the Local Authors Open House at the Columbia Public Library. I recently emailed some interview questions to him about the book, and he wrote back some answers.

Daniel Boone Regional Library: The book is divided into five parts, with the first half of the book (part one and two) being about you and your tour of duty, while the second half (part three, four, & five) is about reconnecting with the soldiers you served alongside in Vietnam. Which part of the book was most challenging to put together?

Stan Adams: The first half of “Mokane to Mole City” was definitely the most challenging, it took a lot of research making sure the dates and facts were accurate. It was also difficult trying to remember back almost 50 years ago and recreate my month to month service in Vietnam. I started from trying to remember and then document the best I could what happened from the day I was drafted, to landing in Vietnam and serving there from November, 1968-November, 1969. Everyone who was drafted had to serve a year.

But the very hardest part of writing the book was reflecting back on the battles we were in and remembering the men who were killed during my year “in country.” The all night battle at Mole City on Dec. 22, 1968 was the most horrific thing that I and the Manchus of Bravo, Charlie & Echo Companies went through, I had only been “in country” for three weeks. We truly didn’t know if we would live through the night and many didn’t.

My Vietnam memoir basically forced me to come to terms with what I had gone through including reliving the pain and experience all over again, something I’d tried to put out of my mind for 50 years. Most combat veterans think about their war experiences every so often, but to think about it and write about it every day for three years was very stressful, even exhausting, because I started to dream about the war a lot again.

The second part of the book also took a lot of time but my wife Rita worked on it, helping tell the stories of how she searched and found many of the men from Bravo Co. I’d served with. She spent countless hours making phone calls, writing and sending post cards searching for them. Many of us were reunited in early 2003 and we attended our first Manchu reunion in September of that year. What a great feeling that was to see everyone in civilian clothes!

DBRL: Do you have any advice to soldiers who are returning to civilian life from combat situations like you did?

Adams: First of all, I waited too long to be reconnected with the men I served with. My wife Rita encouraged me for 30 years but I just didn’t understand the importance of it. I was too afraid of all the bad memories that would resurface, but there hasn’t been a better gift than for me to be connected to my Manchu comrades. In Vietnam, we didn’t arrive or leave as a group so it was harder to stay connected. Most everyone was a replacement for someone who was injured or killed so we mainly got close to the men in our squad and platoon. As we left the field one by one to fly home, many of us promised to keep in touch, but the war was so painful that most of us tried to put it all out of our mind and to get on with life. It started as soon as we landed back in the States in California, where we were told we shouldn’t wear our uniforms and it would be better to change into street clothes, but I didn’t. Even as much as we thought we didn’t suffer any repercussions from the war, we did — we just didn’t know how much. 

  1. Please contact the families of your friends who died while serving our country. This lets the families know that someone else remembers, cares and feels the loss.
  2. Go to the Veterans Affairs hospital as soon as you get back home, talk to someone about your experience, they are there to help. I waited too long to go to the VA hospital for help. Seeing a counselor there, just talking to someone about what you went through, good or bad, has helped me with my post-traumatic stress disorder nightmares.
  3. Combat veterans especially need to stay in touch with those you served — no one understands more than your comrades! Vietnam veterans weren’t encouraged to register with the VA back in the 1960’s so it wasn’t until after I attended my first Manchu reunion in 2003 that I finally registered for any services, even though I only lived 15 minutes away from the VA Hospital in Columbia, MO. We central Missouri veterans are very lucky to live so close and our local VA is an excellent facility with dedicated and caring staff.
  4. Write down your own experiences in a journal. It doesn’t have to be a book, but it is your history, and later in life you and your family will appreciate knowing what you experienced. And if it does become a book, you might be surprised when it becomes the #1 new best seller on Amazon for Vietnam History, 30 days after it went live on Amazon, like my book did!

DBRL: Your book is filled with lots of photos that both you and others took while in Vietnam. How did you go about gathering and organizing photos for the book? Did the photos help you remember details as you were writing?

Adams: I had taken numerous photos while I was there and sent them and the rolls of film home to be developed. And in Vietnam, maybe someone had taken a picture, but when we got the picture developed, we’d have several copies made to give to each other. The pictures were very important in helping me remember an incident. In Vietnam, I tried writing the names on the back of my pictures so that helped identify them for my book. But sometimes I’d only have the first or last name of the person. When we were awarded medals, we received a list of who else was awarded the medal so these were helpful in getting the guy’s name correct.

In the book I tried to put photos of the people I wrote about so the reader would know what that person or persons looked like. I felt the reader would get nearer & closer to the story that way. The photos helped to remind me of a lot of things. It made me remember lots of details. Some were good and some bad.

When I returned from Vietnam I put my photos in an album, along with the medals I received and kept it in a suitcase. My wife & daughters knew the importance of what was in that suitcase but I didn’t really look at it much, I just was not ready to bring them out to show to my family or friends. But my wife Rita was always interested and curious about the men, who they were or where were they from and she persisted in looking for these men. After Rita started finding the Manchus, she created a list of names, addresses, etc., along with a “looking for list” of names gathered from the medal award sheets. When she’d find a Manchu, she’d ask for names of their friends and any important information they knew, where were they from, etc.

At the first couple of reunions we attended, many of us would bring our photo album from Vietnam so we’d make copies of the pictures and share with each other. In my book, I tried to give credit for where I got a picture if it wasn’t originally mine and Rita contacted different Manchus to try to identify as many of the men as we could. The pictures identify some of the base camps, areas where we were doing search and destroy missions and even loading up on helicopters for eagle flights before being dropped off.

DBRL: After you got back to the United States, were there any books or films about the Vietnam War that connected with you or reflected your experience in the army?

Adams: Yes, the movie “Platoon,” directed by Oliver Stone was as close to my experience. Though there at different times, Oliver Stone and I were both attached to the 25th Infantry Division, “Tropic Lightning”, serving in War Zone C. Like the movie, we had good leaders and some not as good. Thankfully, the second company commander I had, Capt. Ron Cabral, was the very best! It was obvious how much he cared for his men and he made sure we had the basic necessities (like new socks, etc.) and he saw that recognition was given to his men when it was warranted. Capt. Cabral served as B Co. commander from May, 1969 until January, 1970. Though he was there for only 6 months, the men who served under him have the highest regard for him. He was truly a Soldier’s Officer. I was reunited with Ron at our first reunion and we stay in touch on a regular basis. Rita and I have visited him in Massachusetts and he has visited our home in Millersburg. We look forward to seeing each other at the reunion each year. He considers our daughters and our grandsons to be his family and we feel the same about his sons and his grandchildren. I have a lot of respect for anyone that went through a year of combat in Vietnam, or any war.

DBRL: Anything else you’d like to add about the book?

Adams: Two interesting things have occurred since my book was published.

First, a few months ago I was contacted by an American Vietnam veteran who is working with families from Vietnam who are trying to locate the remains of their loved ones who were killed during the war. These would have been enemy soldiers. I gave what information I knew to the American veteran who is trying to help locate these mass graves. The Vietnamese people believe that their spirits can’t go to heaven unless they find the remains of their loved one. This is a noble cause to take on and I hope this helps bring some closure to these people as it does to our American families when US remains are found and brought back home.

Second, in late June, we were contacted by Matt Wilcox from Springhill, Florida. Matt decided he wanted to make a documentary about the Manchus who served in Vietnam. During Matt’s research, he found my book and was very interested in hearing my story as well. Matt came the last weekend of June, spending four nights with us. We drove to Mokane because Matt wanted to record some footage of where I grew up. In addition to interviewing me about the battle of Mole City, he also interviewed Fulton resident and fellow Manchu David Hosenfelt, who served with Alpha Company. Matt is trying to interview and record a few more Manchus for the documentary he’s making so we are working to connect him to some of the other men I served with.

The fact that these men I served with have been reunited and continue being together to this day, even being there as we’re now burying each other, we feel makes “Mokane to Mole City” even more than a war story — it’s the unique full circle story that God is blessing along the way.

DBRL: Where can readers get a copy of your book?

Adams: Autographed copies are available exclusively on our daughter Kim Force’s website Lucky Snipe. The book is also available on Amazon. Businesses who carry it locally are, Columbia: Skylark Bookshop, Yellow Dog Bookshop, and the United States Exercise Tiger Foundation; Millersburg: JONES Farm, Home, Auto and M&L Gun Works; Fulton: The Kingdom of Callaway Historical Society; Williamsburg: Crane’s Museum & Shoppes/Marlene’s Restaurant. For in person deliveries to Columbia or Fulton, please contact us by e-mail: theadamsfamily@socket.net. For local deliveries, the books are $30/cash/carry.

In addition to receiving an autographed copy on Lucky Snipe, we encourage people to order from there because without Kim’s intellect, skill, talent and patience, the book wouldn’t be a reality. She did the editing and formatting and the self-publishing. It truly was a family endeavor to get my story told and published and it’s been a good bonding experience for us.

Reader Review: The Ocean at the End of the Lane

Posted on Tuesday, August 11, 2020 by patron reviewer

Ocean at the end of the lane book coverThe Ocean at the End of the Lane” is a modern fairy tale in the way that only Neil Gaiman can write. The protagonist returns to his rural hometown for a funeral, and finds himself recovering strange memories of events that happened when he was seven years old. Could they have really happened? Could he really have befriended an eleven year old girl who was actually as old as time itself? Could he have brought an ill-tempered spirit home with him from the edges of reality? Could he have died and come back to life? How is it possible that memories could be ripped out and new ones stitched together?

I love the way Gaiman weaves a story, and this one leaves just enough to the imagination of the reader, while being set in a fully-imagined world. It was a quick read—I did it in one sitting on a sick day in bed — and a wonderful escape from what’s going on in the real world. The characters are well-drawn; the “scenery” is at turns idyllic and horrifying.

Three words that describe this book: Magical, quick, fantasy

You might want to pick this book up if: You loved fairy tales as a child, and still love them as an adult.

-Jenn

Debut Author Spotlight: August 2020

Posted on Monday, August 10, 2020 by Katherine

Here’s a look at just a few of the many highly praised debut novels coming to shelves near you in August. As always, for a more complete list, please visit our catalog.

Space Between Worlds book coverThe Space Between Worlds” by Micaiah Johnson

Multiverse travel is finally possible, but there’s just one catch: No one can visit a world where their counterpart is still alive. Enter Cara, whose parallel selves happen to be exceptionally good at dying — from disease, turf wars, or vendettas they couldn’t outrun. Cara’s life has been cut short on 372 worlds in total.

On this dystopian Earth, however, Cara has survived. Identified as an outlier and therefore a perfect candidate for multiverse travel, Cara is plucked from the dirt of the wastelands. Now what once made her marginalized has finally become an unexpected source of power. She has a nice apartment on the lower levels of the wealthy and walled-off Wiley City. She works — and shamelessly flirts — with her enticing yet aloof handler, Dell, as the two women collect off-world data for the Eldridge Institute. She even occasionally leaves the city to visit her family in the wastes, though she struggles to feel at home in either place. So long as she can keep her head down and avoid trouble, Cara is on a sure path to citizenship and security.

But trouble finds Cara when one of her eight remaining doppelgängers dies under mysterious circumstances, plunging her into a new world with an old secret. What she discovers will connect her past and her future in ways she could have never imagined — and reveal her own role in a plot that endangers not just her world, but the entire multiverse.

Continue reading “Debut Author Spotlight: August 2020”

Literary Links: One Read 2020

Posted on Sunday, August 9, 2020 by Eric

Our 2020 One Read selection, “A Gentleman in Moscow” by Amor Towles, was picked before the pandemic hit, but it shares an uncanny connection with what many of us have experienced — the theme of confinement. The book is about Count Alexander Rostov, who is sentenced to house arrest in the luxurious Hotel Metropol in Moscow by the Bolsheviks (later known as the Communist Party). Count Rostov experiences a tumultuous 30 years of Russian history from the limited perspective of his attic room with news of the world filtered through the hotel guests and employees that he encounters. It is remarkable how much The Count still witnesses, despite his confinement, and how much subject matter the author covers. Life continues, and, sometimes, we can have a wide range of experiences within a limited space. So, here are some other novels that explore a diverse array of human experience within very limited settings.

"One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich" book coverOne Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich” by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, is also about a Russian prisoner, but here the conditions are far worse than the Hotel Metropol. Ivan Desinovich is a Russian soldier serving a 10-year sentence in a Siberian labor camp after being falsely accused of treason. The book chronicles a single routine, dehumanizing day in the camp, from when Ivan gets up to when he goes to sleep. His struggle to maintain dignity throughout the day is the heart of this story.

The Mayakovsky Tapes” by Robert Littell, takes us back to the famous Hotel Metropol, specifically room 408, in"The Mayakovsky Tapes" book cover 1953. There, four women have gathered to reminisce about Vladimir Mayakovsky, a poet who became a national idol of Soviet Russia after his death. Each woman was a muse of the poet, and through their reminiscence a complex character emerges. Mayakovsky’s history reflects Russian history, from his time as a leader of the Futurist movement to his work as a propagandist for the Revolution and later censorship battles that turned him against the state.

"The accusation" book coverSome borders are more confining than others. The one that separates North Korea from the rest of the world is so confining that life behind it is a mystery to most of the world. “The Accusation” by Bandi is a collection of short stories that offers a glimpse behind the border. Published by an anonymous writer, and snuck into South Korea for publication, the book contains seven stories set during the period of Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il’s leadership. These stories provide a vivid depiction of life in a dictatorship and a rare look at the people living in that very isolated nation.

The Lady Matador’s Hotel” by Cristina Garcia takes place in an unnamed Central American capital in the midst of political "The Lady Matador's Hotel" book coverturmoil. It follows six men and women, residents of the eponymous hotel, during a week when their lives become entangled and conflicts erupt. The intertwining stories form a caustic social critique of the horrors of oppression and violence.

"The Mezzanine" book coverThe Mezzanine” by Nicholson Baker, takes place during a one-story escalator ride. While embarking on this simple task, the narrator contemplates some of the mundane objects in our lives and activities we engage in. This defamiliarizes the familiar, and becomes an exploration of the importance of everyday human experiences and the things around us.

The setting for “Cosmopolis” by Don DeLillo is the interior of a white stretch limousine. Inside rides a "Cosmopolis" book cover28-year-old billionaire asset manager on his way across town to get a haircut. During this journey, he is in the middle of a risky bet against the yen and has many visitors and detours. The result is a perceptive, surreal and surprisingly epic story about a limo ride.

"My Year of Rest and Relaxation"In “My Year of Rest and Relaxation” by Ottessa Moshfegh, the unnamed narrator wants to spend a year in the confines of her bed. After inheriting a large sum of money, she quits her job at an art gallery and somehow finds a doctor willing to supply her with the right combination of drugs to sleep a year away. Despite the absurd conceit, the book is about very real concerns, like alienation and loneliness. Will this long nap heal the narrator?

I hope that you’ve been able to read “A Gentleman in Moscow,” and that it has helped expand your experience of the world, as many books can, during this time of social distancing. Perhaps some of these other titles can do the same. In September, you will be able to explore the topics and themes of the book online through discussions, an art exhibit and other programs, culminating with an author’s talk live via Zoom on September 22. For more information, visit the One Read website at www.oneread.org.

New DVD List: Saint Frances, Looking For Alaska & More

Posted on Friday, August 7, 2020 by Dewey Decimal Diver

Here is a new DVD list highlighting various titles recently added to the library’s collection.


Website / Reviews
Playing earlier this year through Ragtag Cinema’s Virtual Cinema, this film follows flailing 34-year-old Bridget, who finally catches a break when she meets a nice guy and lands a much-needed job nannying six-year-old Frances. But an unwanted pregnancy introduces an unexpected complication. To make matters worse, she clashes with the obstinate Frances and struggles to navigate a growing tension between Frances’s moms.


Miniseries
Website / Reviews
This is an 8-episode limited series based on the John Green novel of the same name. It centers around teenager Miles “Pudge” Halter, as he enrolls in boarding school, falls in love with Alaska Young, and finds a group of loyal friends. But after an unexpected tragedy, Miles and his close friends attempt to make sense of what they’ve been through.


Website / Reviews
The iconic Merce Cunningham and the last generation of his dance company are stunningly profiled in Alla Kovgan’s documentary, through recreations of his landmark works and archival footage of Cunningham, John Cage, and Robert Rauschenberg. A breathtaking explosion of dance, music, and never-before-seen archival material, this film is a timely tribute to one of the world’s greatest modern dance artists.

Other notable releases:

Evil” – Season 1Website / Reviews 
” – Season 2Website / Reviews 

Reader Review: Nothing More Dangerous

Posted on Thursday, August 6, 2020 by patron reviewer

Set in 1976 in the fictional Missouri towns of Jessup and Dry Creek somewhere south of Jefferson City, “Nothing More Dangerous” is a coming of age novel of race, crime and the meaning of family. The writing is excellent, and the story, as told through the eyes of the fifteen year-old narrator, is compelling and often poignant. It’s a gritty crime tale told against a backdrop of cultural issues that remain relevant today. Added bonus: the author is a former criminal defense attorney who grew up in Jefferson City, and locals will appreciate the Central Missouri setting and references to Columbia.

Three words that describe this book: moving, engrossing, perceptive

You might want to pick this book up if: You enjoy coming of age novels, crime novels, novels that address racism, or novels set in Central Missouri. If you check any of these boxes, you will appreciate “Nothing More Dangerous.”

-Jeff

Read Harder 2020: Historical Fiction NOT Set in WWII

Posted on Thursday, August 6, 2020 by Reading Addict

Hopefully you’re cruising right along with the Read Harder Challenge, but if you’re not don’t worry. There’s still time to join us in this year’s challenge!

Task #6 is for a historical fiction novel not set in WWII. It seems like almost every historical fiction book is about World War II. It’s not your imagination — there really are a lot. But there are also a lot of historical fiction books covering EVERY OTHER TIME FRAME IN HISTORY. Continue reading “Read Harder 2020: Historical Fiction NOT Set in WWII”

The Gentleman Recommends: Lydia Millet

Posted on Friday, July 31, 2020 by Chris

Imagine being born into a world whose habitable lifespan your parents and grandparents have allowed to be dramatically curtailed so that a few people could make more money than they otherwise would. Now imagine your parents have forced you to spend your summer vacation in a large house shared with your parents’ friends from college and their respective kids. Now you are in the headspace of Evie, the sardonically hilarious teenage narrator of “A Children’s Bible” by Lydia Millet, a novel I recommend with delirious arm-flailing gusto. Continue reading “The Gentleman Recommends: Lydia Millet”

Reader Review: Between The World And Me

Posted on Thursday, July 30, 2020 by patron reviewer

Between the World and Me book coverBetween the World and Me” is written by the author as a letter to his teenage son. It describes his life growing up and living as a Black man in America. He speaks frankly and bluntly about the way systemic racism has shaped his behaviors and self-perception in today’s world. This was a great book and I really liked it. It gave me a small taste of what it is like to live in America as a Black man, something I can never experience. It also was a personal call to action against the deeply ingrained policies and systems put in place in our country.

Three words that describe this book: Powerful, Moving, Vivid

You might want to pick this book up if: you are seeking to understand the world from another perspective and to learn more about the systemic racism in our country.

-Rachel