A Bloodied Tapestry

The American War In Vietnam From A Civilian War Veteran's Perspective

Non-Fiction - Autobiography
134 Pages
Reviewed on 02/02/2023
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Author Biography

JanStephen Cavanaugh, Ph.D. was born in Canada to a large, very religious family. His dream of priesthood let him to the US, but after being “turned away” from this role he turned his attention to volunteering and found himself stationed in South Vietnam, right in the middle of the Vietnam War 1967-1969. He experienced the hell of war first-hand as a civilian. A Bloodied Tapestry is the story of how JanStephen became a peace warrior. In February 2003, he wrote: “Some years ago I acknowledged to myself that I am a Civilian Vietnam War Veteran. This was the beginning of my being able to tell the story of my time in war. I find it of great concern, now some 34 years later, that America has been drawn into another guerrilla war. There is something about that war - now so long ago - that feels strangely like George W. Bush's war on terrorism. It is a sense of deja vu, or repeating old errors in war and peace that compels me to write about the Age of Terrorism that is upon us.”
He wonders if he survived to author this story in the hopes of an Age of Peace.

    Book Review

Reviewed by Maria Victoria Beltran for Readers' Favorite

A Bloodied Tapestry: The American War in Vietnam from a Civilian War Veteran's Perspective by JanStephen James Cavanaugh, Ph.D. is a moving autobiographical account of a civilian volunteer during the Vietnam War. His story was reconstructed from personal journals written during his time in South Vietnam from 1967 to 1969. As a young boy growing up in a farmhouse in Ontario, Canada, JanStephen, the oldest son in an Irish/French Catholic family, was supposed to be a farmer. However, his desire to become a priest brought him to Illinois, USA where he enrolled in undergraduate studies for the priesthood in the Catholic Foreign Mission Society of America-Maryknoll. On graduation, he experienced a crisis of faith and was asked to take some time out to reflect on his vocation. He then joined the IVS and was sent to Vietnam. This is his story.

JanStephen James Cavanaugh’s A Bloodied Tapestry is a poignant memoir that gives readers a different perspective on the Vietnam War. Anyone interested to know what went on behind the scenes during the war should not miss this book. His reminiscences are not typical war stories but honest recollections of daily life and events of a civilian volunteer living in a village in South Vietnam at the height of the hostilities. It is also a social commentary on the horrors of war and a call to end the inhumanity of these armed conflicts and usher in the anticipated age of peace. This is a first-person account of what it was like to be in a war zone in Vietnam and is a heart-wrenching tale. Well-written and realistic, it is a highly recommended read.

Luwi Nyakansaila

A Bloodied Tapestry by JanStephen James Cavanaugh, Ph.D. is a memoir of the author's experience during the Vietnam War. He begins the story by narrating his childhood experiences and the calling he received in a dream from the Lord to serve in the Catholic Church. His vast experience as a farmer and being the firstborn in his family guided most of his life decisions. The author narrates how he found himself in the Philippines, then later Vietnam. He goes through a culture shock that he gradually fits into and grapples with his faith. Jan realizes his true calling is to help preserve the lives and culture of the people affected by the unnecessary war. The son of a farmer, called by God to go to war but not to fight as a soldier, Cavanaugh perfectly refers to himself as a civilian war veteran.

A Bloodied Tapestry is an amazing story with many life-changing lessons. JanStephen James Cavanaugh writes about his memories as if they are happening in real-time. He continuously talks about his war journal and the letters he wrote to his love, Luisa. The author honestly discusses his battles with love, faith, alcohol, and morality. He talks about the gruesome effect the war had on Vietnam and how the people did not give up, no matter how the odds were against them. It is fascinating to read how Cavanaugh was able to survive in such a dangerous place, yet he lived a fairly routine life. The miraculous events that occurred when he was diagnosed with murine typhus are proof of divine innervation in his life. Reading this book will take you on an adventure, and a roller coaster of emotions. I recommend reading this story to experience living in a war-torn country. Brilliant story.