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Book review: 'Dust to Dust' is a moving memoir about the fleeting existence of childhood, peace and war

By Steve Larson

For the Deseret News

Published: Saturday, May 19 2012 3:00 p.m. MDT

"DUST TO DUST," by Benjamin Busch, Ecco, $26.99, 305 pages (nf)

"Dust to Dust," a memoir written by actor and author Benjamin Busch, tells the story of his life growing up in a small town in upstate New York. Busch describes how he spent his early years building and defending forts in the area around his boyhood home.

He says his defense of these forts was hampered by his inability to play with guns. His parents had been involved in Vietnam War protests and refused to allow him to have anything to do with toy guns.

This ban on toy guns did not curb Busch's fascination with war. Without owning a single toy gun he was soon organizing war games and melting crayons for bullets. He describes a childhood filled with battles and focused on defending his land and property.

Years later while attending Vassar College, Busch joined the Marines and in 1992 accepted a commission as a second lieutenant in the U.S. Marine Corps.

His memoir describes his two tours of duty in Iraq and his military training around the world, linking his stories with metal, blood, soil and stone. This style of writing can make the stories difficult to follow but helps reader understand how Busch sees his experiences.

The book at times is gritty and shocking, detailing how war impacts the lives of those involved. Busch does a fine job of mixing stories of his childhood and life in rural New York with descriptions of combat and life in Iraq.

His book also is deeply moving and sensitive at times. At its heart is an examination of the relationship between Busch and his parents. It is Busch's attempt to understand his father, Frederick Busch, who is a novelist.

"Dust to Dust" is an interesting look at life on many levels. It does contain harsh language and descriptions of combat.

If you go

What: Benjamin Busch book signing

When: Wednesday, May 23, 7 p.m.

Where: The King's English, 1511 S. 1500 East, Salt Lake City

Web: kingsenglish.com

Steve Larson is one of the founders of Information Alliance, a Utah-based data collection company.

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