Book Reviews of All the Difference by Daniel C. Lavery

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Review of Dr. Peter Stine, PhD, U.C. Berkeley, Professor of English at South Carolina State U., Wayne State U., U. of Michigan;

I finished All the Difference, and what a fine memoir it is! I found it totally engrossing. The opening swept me in. I can imagine the pain your mother felt, you felt, and then the contrasting personality of your father, that swimming lesson he gave you, wow. It is so rich in episode, and in particular the chapter describing your shooting the crabs and beautiful bird, your remorse, and Ruthie’s gentle instruction in the holiness of all creatures, even the Golden Garden Spider, struck me. Or your discovery of the sanctity of nature’ beauty on your travels, or of baseball. The writing is lucid and concrete and engaging, you are on your way. Your story that begins in a military family split by divorce and ends with you emerging as a brilliant ACLU lawyer in California is quite remarkable and riveted me for days.

The section on Yokohama I loved, and Eddie is a great glimpse of raw American energy. Your portraits of scrappy uneducated types are consistently strong. Your account of cultural awakening is very well done, a great chapter, especially your discovery that the Japanese were individual beings physically and mentally, that our racist stereotype of them was nothing more. Strong descriptions of nature in your trips with Alex. Your sexual initiation in Yokosuka is cool. I liked the sports here, and Tom’s converting you to fundamentalist Christianity. Good on your religious inquires and the skepticism offered by Jerry’s dad, since the memoir is a long tale of deconversion, overthrowing indoctrination. Your brush with death in the train tunnel was excruciatingly real.

The Civil Rights history delivered by the professor on the Sunset Limited is a bit undigested in the narrative, but probably necessary to educate the reader to the world you will be entering. I admired your gutsy, principled withdrawal from NROTC at Duke, again a dramatic self-definition. Good on learning the brutality of the Old Testament God; it brought to mind Stephen Pinker’s Better Angels of our Nature. A great account of your religious bible classes and new agnosticism. That freshman Dean of Students calling you a low IQ case is amazing. Your evolving shift from Duke to the Naval Academy is traced in subtle detail, and your account of that Plebe year fascinated and shocked me. Standing up to the two bullying upperclassmen over Civil Rights and then the great portrait of Joe Duff are superb. Dan, you are at your best when, against the odds, you courageously stand up to arrogant and abusive authority figures, whether Duff, the Folsom prison molester, or the landlord threatening his tenant – these moments sparkle, the portrait of malice is stark, your own moral principles manifest.

It is harrowing to read of your experience as an aviator on an AR5C, and I remember your telling me about the lethal risks involved in the late 1960s. It was fun to read about your time at Berkeley then, Jerry, your well-described acid trip, Delaware Street, etc. The conclusion of the memoir about your amazing legal work for the UFW, ACLU, your alliance with Jerry, life with Joan, all of it was interesting, totally engrossing. Finally, I noticed throughout the last third of the memoir you labeled the Vietnam War as genocidal, which is exactly right. Thanks for the opportunity to read your terrific book.

(Peter Stine is also the founder and editor of literary journal Witness,1987-2007, awarded eight grants from National Endowment For The Arts, and four volumes were reissued as books by university press; his  fiction, poetry, literary essays and journalism are widely published: The Iowa Review, Boulevard, The Threepenny Review, Contemporary Literature, The Cambridge Quarterly, The New York Times, Sport Literate, and Harold Bloom's Modern Critical Reviews. His latest book, The Art of Survival, contains essays on Isaac Babel, Ernest Hemingway, Franz Kafka, and Joseph Conrad, ISBN 978-0-9823319-3-4, by Rocky Shore Books, Marquette Mi, 2011)

All the Difference may be purchased from



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   5.0 out of 5 stars Mike's Book Review, July 14, 2013


Leander M. Pemberton (Bakersfield CA) - USNA Class of 1964

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This review is from: All the Difference (Paperback)

A most engrossing book that captures the life and times of a remarkable, multi-talented individual who underwent a dramatic transformation from a conservative, military oriented, "pawn" to a crusading progressive activist. If you grew up in the 40's, 50's, or 60's, this will be your vehicle for a nostalgic reprise of that part of your life. Written with great attention to detail and in a manner that pulls you into the pages to vicariously experience Dan's life experiences. The writing is beautifully descriptive, allowing the reader to create detailed images of the settings involved. Leaves you hoping there will be a sequel which takes Dan up to the present day. Warning - once you start the book, you can't put it down!

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5.0 out of 5 stars Dan Lavery has made a difference, July 31, 2013


Dan Walker -Jordan High School Class of 1958

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This review is from: All the Difference (Paperback)

A very well written and interesting trip thru a life that many can relate to. The youth, schooling, life lessons and his transformation as a activist makes for a story that we can all learn from.

5.0 out of 5 stars All the Difference by Daniel C. Lavery, August 2, 2013


robert webster -Yokohama High Class of 1957

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This review is from: All the Difference (Paperback)

After reading the Kindle Version I ordered the Paperback Form so I could better enjoy the photos and reread for detail. I was a classmate of Dan's for one year (55-56) at Yokohama American High School in Japan. His keen memory of sports activities, interaction with teammates, coaches, and teachers were spot on and realistically transported me back to my High school days overseas. Most interesting was his transformation over the years from an aspiring baseball addict/sports star, history and literature student, military officer, into a UFW/ACLU Lawyer in Los Angeles. His vivid descriptions of his surroundings and adventures around the world held my interest through out the entire book. How did Dan survive his next challenge/adventure and change in life's direction? These are the question he thoroughly and colorfully answers. Dan does not hold back as he reveals a very personal insight and perception into all his relationships, both family and with others. A great read from many aspects, especially since I knew many of the high school characters mentioned and also grew up in Southern California where Dan was part of Progressive Ideology and Civil rights history. I am looking forward to his next publication.

5.0 out of 5 stars A Long Search, August 5, 2013


Dave Timm -USNA Class of 1961

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This review is from: All the Difference (Kindle Edition)

"A young man's Odyssey from the heartbreak of a WWII-broken home into lifelong competitive sports - on to a stint the Duke Theology School - through a career as a Naval Flight Officer - into disillusion in 60's and on to success as a Civil Rights Champion in the 70's and on until this day. Though in many ways he was fortunate in life, Dan's is not an "easy read", for it evokes memories of dilemmas, demons and problems faced and the mixed bag of decisions made by the majority of America's youth as we came of age face-to-face with the Vietnam War and its aftermath. Not to give the story away, but: I was on the edge of my seat while reading of the the dramatic life and philosophical changes made by the author during his ultimately successful legal fights on behalf of Cesar Chavez, the UFW and others. My copy of All the Difference is a permanent addition to my library.

5.0 out of 5 stars What an awesome book., August 4, 2013


Colleen -

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This review is from: All the Difference (Paperback)

It was well written and really flowed throughout the book. It really kept my attention and was very informative and interesting. 1 of 1 people found the following review helpful

5.0 out of 5 stars A Great Read, August 18, 2013


Howard K. Watkins - Hastings College of Law 1972

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What a great read!! Dan Lavery has a very engaging writing style making the reader feel she or he is present at the recounted events. He brings alive many of the issues my fellow baby boomers experienced or knew of others who had. This is living history, as the author is transformed from a conservative military background to become a leading civil rights attorney in California. The book is a worthy selection for private book clubs everywhere. Plenty of topics to discuss. 2 of 2 people found the following review helpful

5.0 out of 5 stars Great read, August 11, 2013


Sue -

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This review is from: All the Difference (Paperback)

This book is a must read that I couldn't put down. The writing was well written, interesting and easy to read. Well worth it.

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful


By Harriet G Harper on November 25, 2013

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I knew Dan and his brother Chip when we were teenagers in Japan. Chips wife Pat was there with us too. Its a great book. Funny in spots and serious in others. There were so many things about his childhood and home life I never knew. Never knew his choice for his career. But I am glad for his ultimate choice.



Review of All the Difference by David Starr Long Beach Jordan High School President of the senior Class 1958 and Captain of the Varsity Football Team)


After reading, “All the Difference” I feel compelled to write to you. First, congratulations on writing a very interesting book. I am proud to know someone like you with your life experiences and who has the ability to express himself so well in writing. Your book or should I say your life was especially interesting to me for two central reasons:


First, it was interesting how your life evolved from the 17 year old kid I knew at Jordan High School in North Long Beach.  The year that I knew you in high school you seemed to me to be a serious student mostly interested in sports and religion.  I tried without success to get you interested in more high school social activities.  After graduation from Jordan, most of the kids in North Long Beach didn’t go on to be very successful* compared to the success you have achieved in your life. I feel your ambition, your hard work, your family, and your earlier background before you came to North Long Beach aided you to be more successful* in life.

 Secondly, I enjoyed comparing your life activities to my own.  We both went to high profile colleges, Duke and Stanford.  We both played varsity sports in college.  I earned six varsity letters at Stanford.  We both went on to graduate schools, but you by far, out-performed me in this category: one year at Stanford Graduate School of Business verses law school and other educational activities for you. Some other comparisons follow:

 Marriage:  both were fortunate to find great wives.

Children:  both were fortunate to have wonderful children.

 Security:  both worked hard to develop financial independence.

 Religion:  You changed dramatically in this category and me somewhat.  You were the serious religious guy in high school.  I have become more religious through the years.  After retiring I have volunteered for three years at three quarter’s time to do religious work at our church (Presbyterian).

 Physical Appearance:  two handsome guys.

 Politics: We differ a lot here.  You became very liberal and spent a good part of your life helping to improve society. I have become more conservative and am very concerned about the direction our country is going.

 Health:  You look like you are still in good shape.  I exercise over an hour each day and play tennis three times each week. I am very healthy except for a heart murmur which could become serious.

  Dan, we both have worked hard in our lives.  We have been successful* and will leave this earth in better shape than how we found it. From your book, I know all about you. (You were so truthful)  I thought you would like to know a little bit more about another North Long Beach teenager who wanted to rise above the circumstances from which we came.

Good luck to you in the rest of your life!  Thank you for your book.

 Hal Steuber, (President of Jordan Student Body Senior Year 1958 & Captain of Varsity Football Team)


All the Difference By Al Wellman (reviewer) All the Difference Daniel C. Lavery (CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, 2013)  
The best history books are written by those who lived through the events described. "All the Difference" by Daniel C. Lavery is a well-written description of the United States' turbulent 1960s. The stage is set by a child's perceptions of life in the United States during the cold war. As the son of a career naval officer, Lavery lived in widely separated locations offering various perspectives from Florida to California. His description of cultural interactions during the post-war military occupation of Japan provides insight into an era changing both nations. Lavery describes an adolescence defined by scholastic team sports. His athletic prowess sustained a successful self-image through uncertainty about career objectives. The comfortable diversion of team sports disappeared with graduation from the United States Naval Academy just in time for the Gulf of Tonkin Incident. Chapters 24 through 33 recount a typical junior officer service obligation beginning with acquisition of the traditional new Corvette. Flight training with the RA5C Vigilante contrasts the reality of high-tech weapons systems against their advertised capabilities. Self-destructive drinking and driving reflect doubts about a military aviation career. After successful completion of flight training, Lavery requests reassignment to surface ships. Subsequent service aboard USS Oak Hill (LSD-7) brought combat zone experience in Camranh Bay and Danang followed by time in western Pacific ports including Taipei, Hong Kong, Yokosuka, Subic Bay and the unforgetable city of Olongapo. Upon release from active duty, Lavery found in law school the means to effectively apply the energy and enthusiasm which had brought him athletic success before Vietnam. His description of California's energizing activism of the 1960s will bring back memories to every Vietnam veteran and offer a window for younger readers to understand the origins of VVAW.

After shipboard training with Naval Academy midshipmen during the summers of 1965 and 1967, Al Wellman accepted a Naval ROTC commission in 1969 and patrolled the PIRAZ station off North Vietnam aboard USS Chicago from 1970 to 1972.







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