Norris originally wrote this story as a reading text for Japanese university students. Then he made it available as a free online textbook for ESL students and teachers around the world. A good portion of this story about a Vietnam War conscientious objector's adventures and search for identity over a 14-year period is taken from his own experiences.
The online version has over 50 links to literary, artistic, and historical names. At the end of each chapter there are comprehension and discussion/essay questions. The answers are recorded in RealAudio so students can get some listening practice, too. The book can be read online or downloaded in HTML, PDF, and Rocket/Gemstar eBook formats. Aimed at intermediate level and above ESL students, the story can also be enjoyed by native speakers. Also good for self, group, CALL, and peace education studies.
"Mr. Norris's description of the world of adventure as well as that of misery reminds me of Saul Bellow's The Adventures of Augie March, Henderson the Rain King, or Herzog.... Norris's story of a symbolic life is a gift from his own experience, and it gives us something good, meaningful, and inspiring.... The comprehension questions, exercises, and discussion/essay questions are quite useful in helping Japanese students to think in English and in encouraging them to express themselves in English as well. This is one of the ideal textbooks I have been looking for, and while using it I am happy to say that I can steer clear of the traditional grammar-translation method, which I find so time-consuming and ineffective." -- Professor Kazushige Sagawa, Aoyama Gakuin University