4 July 2019
Today we publish our new Canons edition of Ron Kovic’s classic memoir Born on the Fourth of July. Written after his return from the Vietnam war, Kovic’s book became a bestseller and then an Oscar-winning film, and even now remains an indelibly powerful work of art and anti-war statement. This edition includes a foreword from Bruce Springsteen on the lasting effect the book has had on him...
IN 1978 I was on a cross-country drive with a friend when we stopped at a small-town drugstore. There, in a book rack, I found Ron Kovic’s Born on the Fourth of July. I devoured it on the way to Los Angeles, caught in its unrelenting power, and was still under its spell when we pulled into the Sunset Marquis hotel, a rocker’s hideaway on Alta Loma Road.
Over the next few days I noticed a young man in a wheelchair sitting poolside. One afternoon he approached me and said, “Hi, I’m Ron Kovic. I wrote a book called Born on the Fourth of July.” I couldn’t believe it. I told him I’d just finished his book and felt it was one of the most powerful I’d ever read. We talked about the plight of Vietnam vets who’d returned stateside and he offered to take me to the Venice vet center.
A few days later we made the trip and I was introduced to many young men who were struggling with their own difficulties coming home. It was unforgettable and sparked my interest in veterans’ affairs that led to our concert in support of Vietnam veterans at the Memorial Sports Arena in Los Angeles in August 1981. Ron’s book, his passion, and his friendship have stayed with me to this day.
Here’s Born on the Fourth of July. Read it and rejoice. Read it and weep.
– Bruce Springsteen