3 out of 4 stars
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Life on a ranch is exciting, albeit a dangerous one. In The Thundering Herd, John E. Peltier takes us on a beautiful journey of how growing up on a farm was really like. He begins with the story of his family from his father’s side, his French ancestor Pierre Pelletier (born in 1634) and goes on to narrate how his family migrated to America in 1833. The name changed to Peltier and they began farming. His mother’s side was the Scottish Keillor and he narrates from the time of his maternal grandfather.
I do not wish to bore you with all the dates and details (as I was a couple of times), but the meeting of his parents and the family is elaborated from that time on. His mother would call her children fondly as “The Thundering Herd” and hence the title of the book. John is the fifth of twelve children. He tells us about his brothers and sisters and how there was usually always a baby at some point of time in his childhood. He tells about how his father started the farm and how there was always work to do on the farm. The author describes life on the farm in a beautiful way, detailing each fun experience he had with his brothers and the satisfaction of eating food they grew on their farm.
There is a parallel story the author develops about his life serving as a Medical Corpsman during the Vietnam War. He tells about the highlights of being in the army as well as the gloomy parts of the war. He compares life on the farm with life on the army. After coming back home, he describes life working in the construction business.
As any memoir, I believe that The Thundering Herd would be a fun recollection for the family. It was boring at first with all the dates and the names of the ancestors, but the pace picked up a bit while reading about the Vietnam War. I had read Fort Nowhere, Vietnam, but this had less about the war and more about life at the army camp. I learned a lot about farming, being in the army and the construction business. The underlying theme is that family is the most important part of life and I was happy to read about the love and affection portrayed by John’s family throughout the book. They are their own safety net, braving through poverty, storms, war and other tragedies. I do believe family is the most important but this is a beautiful portrayal and an inspiring read for those going through struggling relationships with their family.
Due to the many spelling mistakes and since it was boring at some points, I award this book 3 out of 4 stars. The author has narrated his life in the best way possible. One learns a lot of things from this book. I am so eager to even start a farm! I feel that this book is suitable for all age groups. Except for a few war scenes, I believe even young kids would be able to read this and live a good life. I hope the author writes more books, which can be more inspirational and help us through these difficult times.
The Thundering Herd
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