Phillip's book: Running from the Fire describes in “you are there” detail how a young man growing up in 2 cultures tries to find exactly where he fits in. He’s a minority (a Russian Jew) doing everything he can do to fit into an even smaller minority; an East LA “cholo” or a street tough. The story chronicles the many challenges and changes he faces in order to survive being targeted as a little, skinny, Jewish kid with glasses into an affable, street wise, playful, albeit confused individual.
The book begins with the main character trying to adjust to school using his own merits only to be challenged by the differences between his family and his peer group. He struggles with the many difficulties he must make as he gets older, gets his teenage girlfriend pregnant, puts the baby up for adoption, is drafted into the army and finds himself in the middle of the Central Highlands of Vietnam as a medic. He ultimately survives that experience only to find himself adjusting to the many social changes going on in America in 1968 when he returns to East LA.
Running from the Fire takes the reader, through human circumstance and humor, going from one situation to another and seeing exactly what it is like finding yourself in a mixture of remarkable social conditions. The book covers includes memoirs, travel and the Vietnam war that younger generations as well as Baby Boomers today are interested in the similarities with the war in Iraq and looking back at their own experience with Vietnam and the societal changes taking place today including health, history, humor, psychology and self help.
Running from the Fire is approximately 86,000 words and includes many tragic-comedy events where the reader gets to feel what it is like to be caught between two worlds.
There are 150,000 troops in Iraq today. Conventional wisdom as to how, when and what they will be like once they come back home is a question only time will answer. Running from the Fire details what happened to many of the troops who served in Vietnam. There were 500,000 US troops in Vietnam at the height of the War. The war lasted 15 years. In that time 55,000 were killed in country. Running from the Fire describes what happened to one of the men who was sent there.
Other books by Phillip Elkins:
- Coming Home from the War
Coming Home from the War is the true story of a young man coming home after being drafted into the army and surviving a year in Vietnam.
The world had changed in more ways than one in the year he’d been away. The first place his Uncle Monty takes him to is Haight-Ashbury, the epicenter of the hippie movement in 1967 with the Summer of Love going on right before his eyes. It was a mind-blowing experience but less than comfortable for him since he was still in his army uniform and being gawked at as a freak with all his Vietnam medals on his chest.
After being home on a 30-day leave and making up for lost time with his girlfriend, he has to spend another six months in the army at Fort Benning, GA before he gets out of the army for good. While there he didn’t even realize he went from 125 pounds to almost 170 pounds working at Martin Army Hospital.
He also didn’t realize how much the world had changed until he met a group of hippies at Cal State LA called The Tribe who he moved in with, became a hippie himself and hitchhiked across the country with looking for America but found only bewilderment.
He wound up marrying one of the girls from The Tribe and they moved up to Ventura where he took a job at the Seabee Navy Base in Port Hueneme. He and his wife had a baby and he thought everything was fine until his life began to fall apart.
He goes on vision quests with other Vietnam Vets and decides to try figuring out what he wants in life and how to find it. His shrink tells him to make a quality control checklist to find a lady who he’s compatible with before he gets involved with someone again.
Coming Home from the War covers surviving Vietnam only to struggle readjusting to civilian life and surviving PTSD. It takes the reader in a first person, you are there style (often with humorous detail) going from being happy to be home to the unexpected reality of going through divorces and losing jobs until he figures out how to survive who he's become.
Eddie Pacheco has a design job he loves. He lives in a beautiful canyon in his favorite part of California with a lot of open space, tall trees and wildlife all around. He has a wife he’s in love with and who loves him very much and he believes he has everything he ever wanted.
His kids are healthy and grown and living on their own and they’re happy and doing well but something is eating away at Eddie and he has no idea what it is. He just feels uptight and edgy for some reason.
One morning while at work Eddie gets a phone call from the police department asking him to come into the hospital because his wife has been sexually assaulted.
Eddie’s very upset and angry and wants to kill the guy who raped his wife. Who wouldn’t?
Little by little Eddie begins to flashback to his time in Vietnam. He never really understood what other Vietnam Vets were talking about when they described their suffering from post traumatic stress disorder but he starts to understand it as he begins to flashback to his life from the time he was a little kid called “Cookie” to his time in Vietnam as a medic.
Pretty soon Eddie is living more in past than he’s living in the present and little by little Eddie loses everything he’s worked for all his life.
Eddie no longer feels the sun shining down on himself in his happy home. Eddie’s begun to live in the shadow of what his life was and he’s got to find a way back home.
- Nadia and Riana at Daddy's House - A children's book.
Nadia and Riana live half time with their mother and half time with their father. They switch back and forth every two weeks. They're with their father playing in the back yard stacking up fallen leaves when they start having a mud fight. Daddy has to leave for a while and the girls decide to go on a bike ride to go visit Nadia's friend, Orion. Riana gets bored and goes home but she gets lost on the way. Nadia panics and goes out searching for Riana, her little sister. There are 3 versions of the story in the book, including one where one of the girls is deaf and another version where the father is gay.