[Ed Beakley is a retired Naval Aviator with 170 combat missions in the A-7 Corsair during the war in Vietnam; all total, he has over 3000 hours in 20 different military aircraft. In his last military tour he was Test Director and Lead Project Test Pilot for the Tomahawk Cruise Missile Program.
Ed is a 1968 NROTC graduate from Vanderbilt University with a degree in Electrical Engineering, a graduate of the Naval Post Graduate School with a Masters in Aeronautical Engineering, and a graduate of the Flight Research Inc. Test Pilot and Flight Test Engineer Course. He is a member of the International Test and Evaluation Association, Naval Institute, the Association of Naval Aviation, and the Society of Experimental Test Pilots.
He founded and manages Project White Horse, exploring leadership in the post 9/11 world.]
Recommendation for my Nashville, Litton HS, Vandy, and generally below the Mason Dixon long time friends:
Don’t know if you’re familiar with author Robert Coram out of Atlanta. Fiction writer but his last four books prior to Gully Dirt were biographies of military folks — all of which I highly recommend, not because of military or war connection, but because of the story telling of some really great, brave, and unique Americans. See: http://robertcoram.com/portfolio/#
His newest book, Gully Dirt, is about his growing up in very rural Georgia, and I can’t recommend it more highly. It may not reflect exactly the way you and I grew up, but parts will reflect spot on. I’m no book critic but I know good story-telling when I read it. Do yourself a favor and read. Available on Kindle. Here is the write-up I did on Amazon:
I just finished Gully Dirt over the weekend, and wanted to reflect how much I liked it. As such, this is not so much a book review as a sharing of the pertinence of story from one who grew up in the South but under different circumstances.
As a southern guy born in ’46, it seems like almost every page had a thread I could relate to. While I grew up in a suburb of Nashville, most unlike Edison, and certainly a different aspect of the South, my parents both grew up in the farm environment of Middle Tennessee, and their families still included farmers, so I had the “Sunday visits” with my uncles, aunts and cousins. My mother’s Gunn family goes back to the earliest days of middle Tennessee with James Robertson and Andrew Jackson. The environment Coram describes in my mind goes deep into the history of the South and thus provides a seemingly unalterable attribute of being born there – at least through the 60’s.
While my Dad was not harsh like Robert’s, he was born in July 1900 to poor farm environment — he was 46 when I was born — so there were some threads pulled while reading. I have a picture of his father, and I’m sure Robert would immediately recognize the look.
At a writer’s core, Robert Coram is a great storyteller. Once begun, I suspect most readers will have trouble putting the book down. This is particularly true if you grew up in the southern U.S. in the 40s, 50s or 60’s. Also, this will most likely resonate with those who either grew up in farm country or had family closely tied to farming anywhere in America. Your experiences may not be Robert’s but you’ll find many memories only a country road away. Also, If you’re a reader of Pat Conroy’s life played out over his many books such as The Great Santini or My Losing Season, or if you can identify with Jim Webb’s Born Fighting about the Scots Irish in America, this book will resonate deeply.