Of Uncommon Birth
Dakota Sons in Vietnam
Published by: University of Oklahoma Press
Imprint: University of Oklahoma Press
320 Pages | 6 x 9 | 7 b&w illus., 1 line drawing, 1 map
A work of creative nonfiction inspired by the true story of two South Dakota teenagers, Mark St. Pierre’s Of Uncommon Birth draws upon extensive interviews and exhaustive research in military archives to present a harrowing story of two young men—one white, one Indian—caught in the vortex of the Vietnam War.
Dale, a young middle-class white American from South Dakota, joins the army during the Vietnam War and dreams of serving his country. Frank, a young Lakota Indian, joins the army in an effort to flee the seemingly inescapable circumstances of his life and to follow his people’s warrior tradition. Mark St. Pierre intimately weaves together the lives of these two men from different worlds, as each struggles with issues of loyalty, responsibility, sacrifice, and personal identity through his experiences in Vietnam.
Of Uncommon Birth presents the ironic story of an American Indian soldier who lets himself become stereotyped as the Native “good luck charm,” even if the brave Indian scout stereotype carries with it the smell of death.
“A moving and powerful novel of the Vietnam War. . . . St. Pierre knows the reservation well, and his descriptions of combat have an unforgettable authenticity.”—Ian Frazier, author of On the Rez
“So compelling in its humanity that it leaves the reader with a composite of emotions—anger, remorse, sorrow, awe.”—Robert Sanderson (Micmac), American Native Press Archives, University of Arkansas, Little Rock
“A detailed and poetic expression of Vietnam. . . . Portrays the folly of the whys and wherefores of a Native man fighting the white man’s war.”—Robert M. Owens, Lakota storyteller