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‘Operation Homecoming’ editor, best-selling author to speak March 25 at IU Northwest


Preserving wartime correspondence is Carroll’s legacy; day’s events delve into region connections to military experience

Wednesday Mar 16, 2016


On Friday, March 25, Indiana University Northwest is proud to welcome Andrew Carroll as the much-anticipated highlight of a year-long exploration of America’s military experience as part of its 2015-16 One Book … One Campus … One Community … reading initiative.

Carroll is the editor of this year’s campus read, “Operation Homecoming: Iraq, Afghanistan, and the Home Front, in the Words of U.S. Troops and Their Families.” The highly acclaimed book, written as a series of shared stories, letters and experiences, is the story of America’s military ... through their eyes.

Carroll will speak at 4 p.m., introduced by Sharon D. Allen, a veteran and one of the contributors to the book. Preceding Carroll’s talk will be other activities in the campus’s Savannah Center, including a panel discussion on the future of American’s military at 1 p.m., video narratives by Northwest Indiana veterans at 2 p.m., and theatrical readings from the book by Theatre Northwest at 3 p.m. Concluding the day’s events will be a reception and book signing featuring Carroll.

When Carroll visits IU Northwest, he will have with him original war letters that are extremely rare, including an original from the American Revolution, a letter written from inside a ship at Pearl Harbor as the bombs are falling, the letter written by a young U.S. soldier on Adolf Hitler's private stationery, and other remarkable correspondences.

The journey that eventually led Carroll to the publication of “Operation Homecoming,” and his other achievements, including his New York Times bestsellers, “Behind the Lines and War Letters,” began on Veterans Day 1998, with his founding of a national initiative that honors veterans and active-duty troops by preserving their wartime correspondence. Over the past 17 years, Americans have shared with Carroll an estimated 100,000 previously unpublished letters (and emails) from every war in U.S. history.

Both “War Letters” and “Operation Homecoming” inspired documentaries of the same name and “Operation Homecoming” was nominated for an Oscar and won an Emmy in 2007 for being one of the year's best documentaries.

The first book of its kind, “Operation Homecoming” is the result of a major initiative launched by the National Endowment for the Arts to bring distinguished writers to military bases and inspire U.S. Marines, soldiers, sailors, and airmen and their families to record their wartime experiences.

With Carroll’s guidance, American military personnel and their loved ones wrote candidly about what they saw, heard, and felt while in Afghanistan and Iraq, as well as on the home front. Taken together, these almost 100 never-before-published eyewitness accounts, private journals, short stories, letters, and other personal writings become a dramatic narrative that shows the human side of warfare.

"I think for so many veterans — and I've gotten to talk to troops going back to World War II and to Korea and Vietnam — it takes them years, decades even, to go back and look at their old letters and to confront what they've been through because the memories are so painful for some of them,” Carroll said, “but I think that they realize the cathartic value of getting these emotions out, putting them on paper, sharing them with others. And that's what encouraged so many troops to share these materials."

Major themes of the book include:  The fear of battle; Heading into the unknown; Interactions with foreign communities … both as enemies and as friends; day-to-day life as servicemen and women; violence of war; and coming home.

Carroll’s efforts have been profiled on NBC’s Nightly News, CNN, FOX, PBS, The History Channel, NPR, CBS Sunday Morning, the Today Show, Meet the Press, and Good Morning America, and he was featured as a “Person of the Week” on ABC’s World News Tonight. He has also been a contributing editor to numerous publications, including the New Yorker and TIME, and his op-eds and articles have appeared in the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, American History, USA Today, the Washington Post, Details, AARP’s “Bulletin,” and National Geographic.

Andrew lives in Washington, D.C., and Orange, California, where he serves as the director of the Center for American War Letters at Chapman University (www.WarLetters.us ).

More on Carroll can be found at http://www.chapman.edu/our-faculty/andrew-carroll and from this Memorial Day news clip: http://abcnews.go.com/ThisWeek/video/war-letters-american-history-31273090.

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