Now that John Kerry is the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, some Slate readers may unwisely be wondering if civic duty demands that they wade through Tour of Duty, Douglas Brinkley's account of Kerry's "Vietnam War odyssey." "Even when he was an eleven-year-old boy, there was a feeling that John Forbes Kerry was touched with destiny," Brinkley writes on Page 19. And even on Page 19, the reader has a feeling that this is going to be a long slog.
As a public service, here's all you need to know.
On Kerry's war heroism:
Flip to Page 148 for the first Purple Heart, Page 287 for the second Purple Heart, Pages 290-96 for the Silver Star, and Pages 303-18 for the Bronze Star and the third Purple Heart.
On Kerry and Kennedy:
Brinkley likes Kennedys. Brinkley likes Kerry. And he wants you to know that they share more than just initials—though he points that out, too. Here's a small sampling of the Kerry-Kennedy comparisons:
Page 19: Kerry's father, Richard Kerry, possessed "a fierce family belief, not unlike that which Joseph Kennedy imposed on his four sons, that the Kerry boys—John and Cameron—could accomplish any feat, no matter how difficult."
Page 33: As a prep-school student at St. Paul's School in Concord, N.H., Kerry "was driven like a Kennedy."
Page 35: In 1960, Kerry attends a Kennedy rally, which "heightened" the "natural bond he had felt with Kennedy." The next day, Kerry portrays Kennedy during a mock presidential debate. In the subsequent election at St. Paul's, Kennedy loses.
Page 36-37: As a high-school senior, Kerry dates Janet Auchincloss, Jackie Kennedy's half-sister. He gets to go to the first lady's childhood summer home, where he meets President Kennedy. Later, the 18-year-old Kerry watches the America's Cup with the president and his entourage.