By way of Velva, North Dakota, a stern Lutheran, Norwegian-American upbringing, a well-indulged yearning for adventure, an exposure to “radicalization” on the University of Minnesota campus, and experiences with most of the horrors and many of the heroics of war, Eric Sevareid came to terms with himself and his times at the early age of thirty-two. Fortunately, he put his experiences to paper while they were still fresh in his mind. When Not So Wild a Dream appeared in 1946, it was acclaimed as a superb book, one that deserved to sit with Vincent Sheean’s Personal History, among other American memoirs. That was praise indeed, all of it deserved.
A different publisher has had the bright idea of reissuing the book thirty years later. It is untouched by the author, save for an introduction in which Sevareid makes good and modest use of the advantage of hindsight. Another generation of Americans, growing up in a time of individual and national “identity crisis,” has an opportunity to read a book that is—oh, rarity among publishing occurrences!—much more than its publisher claims in describing it as “a personal story of youth, war and the American faith.”