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.
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.