Bob Kerrey, 59, is President of New School University in New York. Before that he was governor of and then senator from Nebraska. When I Was a Young Man is his story of the first half of his life, starting with his family background and his birth in Lincoln, Nebraska, in August 1943 and ending with his receiving the Congressional Medal of Honor from Richard Nixon in Washington in May 1970. The crisis that redefined his life occurred in the first 2 months of 1969, when he served as a Navy SEAL in Vietnam. He led two missions. On the first, troops under his command killed Vietnamese civilians, women and children, and Kerrey lost his innocence. On the second, his right leg was shot off, and his war ended. Kerrey’s story is a parable for the history of the nation during those years. He was in turn a perpetrator, a victim, a hero, a survivor, and, above all, a leader. He led his SEAL group and has since led a state, a university, and, with others, the nation.