Foreword author(s)

Gail Hosking Gilberg's father was a hero, a valiant soldier decorated posthumously with the Medal of Honor, a man who served his country throughout his entire adult life. But Charles Hosking was a mystery to his daughter. He was killed in Vietnam a week after her seventeenth birthday. She buried the war, the protests, the medal, and her military upbringing along with her father, so much so that she felt cut off from herself. It took more than twenty years for her to recognize the stirrings of a father and a daughter not yet at peace.

Gilberg began a journey—two journeys really—to find out who her father was and in the process to find herself. She explored her buried rage, shame, and silence, and examined how war had shaped her life. In studying the photo albums that her father had left behind, Gilberg found that the photographs demanded that she give voice to her feelings, then release her silent words, words that had no meaning in war for her father yet had all the meaning in the world for her. The result was an epiphany. The photographs became the roads she took in and out of war, and her words brought her father home. Snake's Daughter reveals the crossroads where a soldier father's life and a daughter's life connect.

Snake's Daughter is an arresting and anguished narrative that gives voice to an experience Gail Hosking Gilberg shares with thousands of Americans, including military “brats” whose parents served their country and often gave their lives in the process.

“Destiny assigns the daughters of fallen soldiers the most painful duty, to transform the eternally accumulating sorrows of war into a healing sense of peace, recovery, and reunion. After these many years of America's half-hearted reconciliations, public and private, Gail Gilberg closes the circle on the Vietnam era and our fragmented culture's long convalescence, providing in once and for all with terminal punctuation. I can't imagine any reader not being profoundly moved by Snake's Daughter.”—Bob Shacochis
“For one born into one army family and married into another, Gail Hosking Gilberg's reminders of turbulent and stressful times as well as beloved locations come through vividly and poignantly. She brought two fascinating people into our lives: Sergeant Snake Hosking and his daughter Gail. They will both remain with the reader long after the book has been finished.”—Joanne Holbrook Patton
“Gilberg's eye for detail, her patient and informed study of her father's photographs, reward the reader, allowing him or her to enter into the most personal of Gilberg's musings and thereby to feel like a participant, not an eavesdropper. The fundamental damage done to Gilberg's life was her father's death in 1967; he died a hero, but in many ways was no such thing to his wife and daughters. A mother now herself, Gilberg wrestles with the implications of her father's choice: of country over family, duty over responsibility. What makes Snake's Daughter so worthwhile is the degree to which Gilberg focuses on the largest possible questions, spinning out from her cocoon of personal drama to include not only all war babies but all who have suffered from a missing parent, regardless of circumstances…This is artfully and indelibly written, and in it are posed the fundamental questions of Snake's Daughter. This is not a book merely about Vietnam or a Vietnam daughter; this is a testament to how loss permeates the fabric of everyday living, tattooing us with questions we can never rub off…a strong and thoughtful journey into the power of what we remember, and what we need to remember.”—Joe Bonomo, Georgia Review


Foreword by Albert E. Stone






Chas Hosking Jr., Brooklyn, New York

The Generations

Sailor on a Park Bench, Date Unknown

A Soldier’s Album

On Leave with George Martino from Newark, New Jersey

Southern France, 1944

Mother’s Day, 1944

Norman, 1945

Physical Training

June 30, 1948, Textile Hall, Columbus, Georgia

Love and Marriage

Company F, 503rd AIR, Fort Campbell, Kentucky, 1951

Into Focus

Roots and Vines

June 2, 1952, Smoke Bomb Hill, Fort Bragg, North Carolina

Gail and I

Betty Ann, September 1953, Fort Bragg

At Captain Smith’s

April 8, 1954, Berchtesgaden

Summer 1954, Benediktbeuern

Intelligence and Language School, Oberammergau

Identical Dresses Lined Up for the Camera

February 1955, Dachau, behind the Crematorium

Italy, 1955

Christmas 1956, Wasson, Illinois

Flint Kaserne

Aunt Lorraine

Group Promotions

55 New Street

Maneuvers and War

The Collection

Two-Man-Carry Rappel

Sergeant Higgenbotham, Top Dog

In Disguise

Memory’s Pull

July 1961, Bad Tolz

October 1961, Champs-Elysees

December 1963, on the Way to Vietnam

On Guard

Loc Ninh Photographic Collage, 1964

Another Hitch

Attack on a Village, Phuoc Long Province, March 1965

July 13, 1965, Escape from the Vietcong

A Near Miss

August 1965, Ten-Minute Break


Instructing at the Sand Table, Camp Minh Thanh



Underneath the Map—Rooms of War and Perpetual Dusk


A Form

December 1965, Hugh O’Brien, RVN

Late-Night Photographs

Beating the Drum

Echo Lake

Bien Hoa


Future Past

The Sacrament of Memory and Praise

Last Mission

Tet Celebration

Midnight Memorial Service

March 21

CBS/Newsradio 88, May 23, 1969

May 1971, Hosking Field House Dedication


The Return

Sons and Daughters

Conversation with a Blind Stranger Who Shines

Light on the Forgotten

A Bridge


Gift of a Liberated Village

Heaven’s Dance Floor




May 12, 1995


The Ultimate Mask



An Attempted Ending

To My Father


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Publication Details

Publication Date
224 pages
30 photos