A gripping account of American military members’ experiences before, during, and after wartime.

WALK IN MY COMBAT BOOTS

TRUE STORIES FROM AMERICA'S BRAVEST WARRIORS

Patterson and Mooney team with retired Army Sgt. Eversmann to bring together poignant stories of American veterans from all branches of the service.

In this wide-ranging, consistently absorbing collection, the authors cover the entire spectrum of American military action during the last 50 years, from Vietnam to the ongoing conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq. There are some truly striking experiences here—e.g., Gen. Ron Silverman, a dentist, installing a crown on one of Saddam Hussein’s teeth (“He starts talking about the history of the Middle East….It’s not so much a discussion as a lecture”) or Col. Mario Costagliola’s work near ground zero in the aftermath of 9/11. Nearly all of the pieces contain harrowing elements, especially Jeddah Deloria’s account of being wounded in Afghanistan. The “Home Front” section includes stories by veterans facing unemployment or PTSD after leaving the service while “Red,” a human intelligence collector, chronicles his interrogation of Iraqi prisoners. The final section, “Memorial Day,” looks at the heartbreaking impact of soldiers’ deaths on their loved ones. The contributors come from a wide variety of backgrounds, from prep school to poverty, but they all demonstrate incredible pride and determination. One potent example is Lisa Marie Bodenburg, who fought entrenched sexism to become a helicopter gunner in the Marines. Many of the contributors come from military families, and a high percentage offer their personal stories of what they were doing on 9/11 and how those tragic events affected their lives in the following years. Narrated in the present tense, the text is urgent and full of suspense, and while there is some repetition of experiences, the stories are different enough to keep the pages turning. The clear, matter-of-fact tone only adds to the gravity of life-and-death events that these courageous Americans have endured. Even after their service, many of them continue to work with veterans and their families.

A gripping account of American military members’ experiences before, during, and after wartime.

Pub Date: Feb. 8, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-316-42909-2

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Jan. 27, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2021

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If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

THE 48 LAWS OF POWER

The authors have created a sort of anti-Book of Virtues in this encyclopedic compendium of the ways and means of power.

Everyone wants power and everyone is in a constant duplicitous game to gain more power at the expense of others, according to Greene, a screenwriter and former editor at Esquire (Elffers, a book packager, designed the volume, with its attractive marginalia). We live today as courtiers once did in royal courts: we must appear civil while attempting to crush all those around us. This power game can be played well or poorly, and in these 48 laws culled from the history and wisdom of the world’s greatest power players are the rules that must be followed to win. These laws boil down to being as ruthless, selfish, manipulative, and deceitful as possible. Each law, however, gets its own chapter: “Conceal Your Intentions,” “Always Say Less Than Necessary,” “Pose as a Friend, Work as a Spy,” and so on. Each chapter is conveniently broken down into sections on what happened to those who transgressed or observed the particular law, the key elements in this law, and ways to defensively reverse this law when it’s used against you. Quotations in the margins amplify the lesson being taught. While compelling in the way an auto accident might be, the book is simply nonsense. Rules often contradict each other. We are told, for instance, to “be conspicuous at all cost,” then told to “behave like others.” More seriously, Greene never really defines “power,” and he merely asserts, rather than offers evidence for, the Hobbesian world of all against all in which he insists we live. The world may be like this at times, but often it isn’t. To ask why this is so would be a far more useful project.

If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-670-88146-5

Page Count: 430

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1998

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A sweet-and-sour set of pieces on loss, absurdity, and places they intersect.

HAPPY-GO-LUCKY

Sedaris remains stubbornly irreverent even in the face of pandemic lockdowns and social upheaval.

In his previous collection of original essays, Calypso (2018), the author was unusually downbeat, fixated on aging and the deaths of his mother and sister. There’s bad news in this book, too—most notably, the death of his problematic and seemingly indestructible father at 96—but Sedaris generally carries himself more lightly. On a trip to a gun range, he’s puzzled by boxer shorts with a holster feature, which he wishes were called “gunderpants.” He plays along with nursing-home staffers who, hearing a funnyman named David is on the premises, think he’s Dave Chappelle. He’s bemused by his sister Amy’s landing a new apartment to escape her territorial pet rabbit. On tour, he collects sheaves of off-color jokes and tales of sexual self-gratification gone wrong. His relationship with his partner, Hugh, remains contentious, but it’s mellowing. (“After thirty years, sleeping is the new having sex.”) Even more serious stuff rolls off him. Of Covid-19, he writes that “more than eight hundred thousand people have died to date, and I didn’t get to choose a one of them.” The author’s support of Black Lives Matter is tempered by his interest in the earnest conscientiousness of organizers ensuring everyone is fed and hydrated. (He refers to one such person as a “snacktivist.”) Such impolitic material, though, puts serious essays in sharper, more powerful relief. He recalls fending off the flirtations of a 12-year-old boy in France, frustrated by the language barrier and other factors that kept him from supporting a young gay man. His father’s death unlocks a crushing piece about dad’s inappropriate, sexualizing treatment of his children. For years—chronicled in many books—Sedaris labored to elude his father’s criticism. Even in death, though, it proves hard to escape or laugh off.

A sweet-and-sour set of pieces on loss, absurdity, and places they intersect.

Pub Date: May 31, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-316-39245-7

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: March 11, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2022

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