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Hollywood, Los Angeles, CA
The Avant Garde of Western Civ
WINNER OF PRIZE AMERICANA
6 x 9
After being hauled out of a Vietnamese rice paddy in 1969 and then spending months in various neuropsychiatric wards in the United States, David Holdridge evolved to become a stalwart in the promotion of the American narrative overseas. As such, the author witnessed that “business” grow from a rather lonely pursuit to the global industry it is today – most commonly known in the West as “Overseas Relief and Development.” THE AVANT GARDE OF WESTERN CIV is the story of one “foot soldier” and his family as they sought to provide salve and transformation within the aftermath of the Iraq invasion in 2003. This memoir explores how difficult and often complicit “giving” can be.
Christopher Shays, Congressman, 4th Congressional District in Connecticut: “David and his team in the Shia heartland of Iraq represented the best values and hopes of his country as he remained indefatigable over his 7 years there – outside of any perimeter – in pursuit of leaving some lasting good behind within the larger Iraqi context of dismay and disintegration.”
Sayed Sa’ad Mehdi, Religious Cleric: “In my name and on behalf of the community of al Hayy in Wasit Governorate, Iraq, we are praising the extraordinary efforts made by the humanitarian organization as led by its Director, Mr. David Holdridge and his Iraqi staff who provided such exceptional services in the province from 2003 to 2010.”
Phil Karber, travel writer, POSTMARKS FROM A POLITICAL TRAVELER: “David Holdridge’s AVANT GARDE OF WESTERN CIV pulls no punches in taking on the charity industry and foreign policy pundits. For over four decades, he and his family have experienced fully the social and political realities of the world's conflict zones, natural disasters, famines and crises. Starting as a young infantry lieutenant who was gut shot in Vietnam, he has since taken on countless missions as a humanitarian aid worker into hotspots such as Eritrea, Sierra Leone, Lebanon, Bosnia, Kosovo, Iraq, Gaza and Haiti. This foot soldier’s evocative story, in equal parts, exposes a flawed approach to soft power and expands our understanding of ‘right relations.’”
Joseph S. Nye, University Distinguished Service Professor and former Dean of the Harvard Kennedy School of Government: “Many works describe humanitarian assistance and aid from a general and theoretical perspective, but what does it feel like to a practitioner? David Holdridge describes aid from the ground up, a different and fascinating perspective.”
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
David Holdridge served in the Vietnam War in 1969 as an infantry platoon leader outside of Chu Lai. He was wounded and spent eighteen months getting repaired at various hospitals in the United States, culminating with operations at Hartford Hospital in Connecticut where neurosurgeon, Dr. Benjamin Whitcomb managed to free him from his trauma.
Subsequently, he spent thirty-five years working with humanitarian organizations amidst populations suffering from war, exploitation, and impoverishment, including assignments in West Africa, the Middle East, and Asia. From 2010 to 2012, he directed an advocacy effort in Washington D.C., which argued for significant transformation of the current systems and approaches of American assistance abroad.
Currently, he lives on a tree farm in Vermont with his wife, Annie. His daughter Hank was born in Beirut; his son, Alex, in Tunis. He is the recipient of Prize Americana in 2015 for his memoir, The Avant Garde of Western Civ. He is currently working on a book describing the beginnings of the counter culture revolution in 1962.