Grooms, Anthony. Bombingham: A Novel. New York, NY: The Free Press, 2001.
The following is from the inside jacket cover of Bombingham: A Novel:
From the war-torn rice fields of Vietnam to the riot-filled streets of Birmingham, Alabama,
Bombingham is the affecting story of a middle-class black family riven by its
personal chaos. When Walter Burke is faced with writing a letter to the parents of a fallen
friend and fellow soldier, he is taken back to his childhood amidst the Civil Rights
Movement. From it, he recalls the segregated city, the fledgling movement, and the
momentous responsibility to act.
Walter reflects on how he and his family were challenged by the swelling resistance to the
horrific realities of segregation in a city where little girls could be bombed in church
and their fathers jailed for just looking at a white person the wrong way. The parents'
sense of security is increasingly threatened, while the children are forced to make moral
decisions that portend grave consequences.
As Walter struggles to make sense of his presence in Vietnam, he wonders if the victory of
the movement meant nothing more than being sent into a battlefield of another kind. Joining
two pivotal periods in the American experience, this beautifully written novel from the
winner of the 1996 Lillian Smith Award for Fiction makes an important contribution to our
understanding of the period.
With wry humor and haunting description, it is a portrait of the wonder and the terror of
childhood in a time when ordinary citizens risked their lives to change America. By turns
both reflective and dramatic, Grooms chronicles the events of the Civil Rights Movement
and the Vietnam War through the heightened perspective of a narrator who struggles to
find the meaning of his role in both events. Bombingham is a moving testament
to the power of responsibility and faith in the face of tragedy.