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Short Synopsis
In the wake of her mother's death, Jessica Pearce Rotondi uncovers boxes of letters, declassified CIA reports, and newspaper clippings that bring to light a family ghost: her uncle Jack, who disappeared during the CIA-led "Secret War" in Laos in 1972. The letters lead her across Southeast Asia in search of the truth that has eluded her family for decades.

Full Synopsis
In the wake of her mother's death, Jessica Pearce Rotondi uncovers boxes of letters, declassified CIA reports, and newspaper clippings that bring to light a family ghost: her uncle Jack, who disappeared during the CIA-led "Secret War" in Laos in 1972. The letters lead her across Southeast Asia in search of the truth that has eluded her family for decades.

On the night of March 29, 1972, Jack's plane vanishes over the mountains bordering Vietnam. The crash eerily echoes the one Jack's father, Ed Pearce, survived over Germany in World War II, when Ed parachuted out of a burning plane before being captured and sent to Stalag 17 prison camp.

Years later, Ed will become convinced that his son is still alive and that the US government he fought for is lying to him. What We Inherit is Rotondi's story of her own hunt for answers as she retraces her grandfather's journey to Laos in search of his son.

An excavation of intergenerational trauma on a personal and national scale, What We Inherit reveals the power of a father's refusal to be silenced and a daughter's quest to rediscover her voice in the wake of loss.

"Jessica Pearce Rotondi brilliantly probes the mysteries of a secret war while simultaneously exploring the secrets of her own family, to give us a book about coming to terms with many kinds of loss. Exceptional." -Salman Rushdie, Booker Prize-winning author of Midnight's Children

"A beautiful amalgam of memoir, travelogue, and investigative report that moves with the propulsive forward energy of a thriller. A haunting chronicle of loss and redemption." -Ron Chernow, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Alexander Hamilton

"Written like a spy novel and delivered like a whistleblower account of government deception, I felt like I was holding my breath until the very last page . . . This book shook my deepest assumptions about America." -Sebastian Junger, award-winning author of The Perfect Storm

"An inspiring and revealing story of one family's pursuit of the truth about their son." -Kirkus Starred Review

"In her powerful, heartbreaking, and gut-wrenching first book, Rotondi explains how in 2009, after her mother's death, she found boxes of files, newspaper clippings, and declassified CIA reports regarding her Uncle Jack and the family's search for him."
Booklist
Kirkus Review

What We Inherit

A Secret War and a Family's Search for Answers

Author Jessica Pearce Rotondi

Narrated by Jessica Pearce Rotondi

Publication date Apr 21, 2020

Running time 7 hrs

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