The Ballad of Roy Benavidez

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Author: William Sturkey

Category: Humanities

Book Format: Hardback

Publisher: Basic Books

ISBN: 9781541600263

RRP: $65.00

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The dramatic life of Vietnam War hero Roy Benavidez, a Mexican American Green Beret from a working-class family with deep roots in Texas, revealing how Hispanic Americans have long shaped US history

In May 1968, while serving in Vietnam, Master Sergeant Roy Benavidez led the rescue of a reconnaissance team surrounded by hundreds of enemy soldiers. He saved the lives of at least eight of his comrades that day in a remarkable act of valor that left him permanently disabled. Awarded the Medal of Honor after a yearslong campaign, Benavidez became a highly sought-after public speaker, a living symbol of military heroism, and one of the country’s most prominent Latinos. ?

Now, historian William Sturkey tells Benavidez’s life story in full for the first time. Growing up in Jim Crow-era Texas, Benavidez was scorned as “Mexican” despite his family’s deep roots in the state. He escaped poverty by enlisting in a desegregating military and was first deployed amid the global upheavals of the 1950s. Even after receiving the Medal of Honor, Benavidez was forced to fight for disability benefits amid Reagan-era cutbacks.

An unwavering patriot alternately celebrated and snubbed by the country he loved, Benavidez embodied many of the contradictions inherent in twentieth-century Latino life. The Ballad of Roy Benavidez places that experience firmly at the heart of the American story.?

William Sturkey is an associate professor of history at the University of Pennsylvania. He is the author of Hattiesburg, a finalist for the Benjamin L. Hooks National Book Award and winner of the 2020 Zocalo Book Prize, and the coeditor of To Write in the Light of Freedom. He lives in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.?

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