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What We Inherit

What We Inherit

A Secret War and a Family's Search for Answers

by Jessica Pearce Rotondi
Publication Date: 21/04/2020
In the wake of her mother's death, journalist Jessica Pearce Rotondi uncovered boxes of letters, declassified CIA reports, and newspaper clippings. The trove of archival materials brought to light a decades-long search by her mother and grandparents for the truth about what happened to her Uncle Jack--a search that Rotondi had never known about, and one whose secrets she would spend the next several years unraveling. It begins in 1943 with her grandfather Ed Pearce, who was just 19 years old when he jumped out of a burning B-17 bomber. Missing in action for months, his parents finally learned he was a prisoner of war in Stalag 17. Ed survived nearly three years in prison camp and a march across the Alps before he would be able to return home.Ed's eldest son and namesake, Edwin "Jack," followed his father into the Air Force but on the night of March 29th, 1972 Jack's plane vanished over the mountains bordering Vietnam, and Ed's past came roaring back.What We Inherit is Rotondi's story of her own hunt for answers, as she retraces her grandfather's 1973 path across Laos in search of his son. Despite conflicting reports and unearthed evidence, the United States government relinquishes all responsibility, leaving the family feeling abandoned. But they never gave up, and after reading about her grandmother's confrontations with the Air Force and her mother's clandestine trip to the Laotian embassy, Rotondi feels compelled to find out what really happened to Jack. An excavation of inherited trauma, on both personal and national scales, Rotondi grows closer to understanding the mystery that has haunted her family for decades and the destructive impacts of a war held in secret.
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