Dover, Ohio - Author and Vietnam veteran Dave Lange will share stories of his childhood and military service when he appears at the Dover Library on February 16th at 2 pm as part of the library's Visiting Author Series.
Lange is the author of "Virginity Lost in Vietnam," a coming-of-age memoir that includes an account of his first visit to Dover in 1959. Lange says the visit not only had an impact on his boyhood, but it also might have saved his life 10 years later in a Vietnamese river.
Now a retired newspaper editor, Lange has been a resident of Malvern in Carroll County for the past 10 years. Working out of his home there, the award-winning journalist completed his autobiographical account in 2018.
"Virginity Lost in Vietnam" is a story about war, but it's not packed with eye-popping accounts of flying bullets and mangled limbs in jungles and rice paddies. Instead, the stories explore the hearts and minds of the men who went to war in Vietnam.
The son of a decorated World War II veteran and a war refugee, much of Lange's early story is set in the family's working-class neighborhood of Cuyahoga Falls. His youthful exploits on baseball diamonds and in competitive swimming pools gradually were overtaken by less reputable juvenile escapades.
For everyone who grew up in the 1960s, the expanding war loomed as a backdrop to their lives. Lange relates his life to the world-shaking events of that period.
His book recalls the adventures and frustrations of male pubescence during high school. They transcend to the distractions of extracurricular activities during his freshman year at Kent State University and then to the anxiety of losing his student draft deferment.
"Virginity Lost in Vietnam" unveils the travails of boot camp. It reveals secrets of Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape training, which has been exposed as the origin of post-9/11 torture techniques.
Lange brings readers up close and personal to the flesh-scorching consequences of the chemical weapon napalm. He takes them for a bumpy ride with Agent Orange, flies them over the Cambodian border, plunges them into the murky depths of infested rivers and huddles them undercover from a clandestine enemy night raid. The author anguished over American boys killed in action, commiserated with battle-weary teenagers and looked into hollowed souls long before post-traumatic stress was called a disorder.
After the ill-fated culmination of his military service, Lange's story follows an adventurous hitchhiking journey around the country, his time as a union construction worker and union auto worker before finally earning a journalism degree at Kent State.
No true story about the 1960s and Vietnam would be complete without the ingredients of drugs and rock 'n' roll. This book also is about a white kid from an all-white neighborhood who, through his military experience, came to know the brotherhood of all races.
Of course, this book is about politics. War is always about politics. War and politics always are overshadowed by lies, about power and privilege and about contempt for the powerless and underprivileged. Finally, it is about unlearned lessons that disconnect the present from the past.
A book signing will follow the program, which is free and open to the community. For more information or to register, contact the Dover Public Library at 330-343-6123. The Dover Public Library is located at 525 N. Walnut Street, directly across the street from Dover High School.
DOVER PUBLIC LIBRARY