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By Jamie Jones
Nationally recognized Peoria author Tim Pletkovich will speak at the Peoria Public Library McClure Branch Library at 1:30 p.m. on Thursday, March 15, and at 1:30 p.m. on Saturday, March 17, about his new book, Nuns, Nazis, and Notre Dame: Stories of the Great Depression, World War II, and Fighting Irish.
Pletkovich will examine the early life of decorated U.S. Army veteran Gerald A. O’Reilly. The son of a prominent Wall Street banker and grandson of a U.S. ambassador under three presidents, O’Reilly was raised in Brooklyn, New York, during the 1920s and ‘30s. His story takes us from the bleachers at Ebbets Field in trolley-car Brooklyn to the hallways of Notre Dame during legendary football coach Frank Leahy’s national championship years, to the innermost thoughts of an elite Tenth Mountain Division soldier thrust into the horrors of battle in Italy’s harsh Apennine Mountains.
A brother-in-law of former United States Senator James L. Buckley and the late William F. Buckley, Jr., O’Reilly provides glimpses into the lives of one of the twentieth century’s most revered political families. His nephew, novelist and humorist Christopher Buckley, recently described his uncle’s narrative as “quietly heroic. His splendid soul is on full display....” Buckley said. “I have known [Gerry] for over half a century, and knew that he had served with valor in World War II in the fabled Tenth Mountain Division. But until I read this memoir, I had no idea what he went through. And why would I have? He was not the kind to talk about it....To quote James Michener: ‘Where do we find such men?’” O’Reilly is the last surviving member of his military company.
Pletkovich will be autographing copies of both Nuns, Nazis, and Notre Dame and his award-winning debut work, Civil War Fathers, at the March 15 and March 17 events.
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