BACK IN THE FIGHT by Joseph Kapacziewski


The Explosive Memoir of a Special Operator Who Never Gave Up
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Amped-up memoir of an elite warrior determined to fight on for his country, even after giving up a limb.

The Army Rangers are renowned as the original Special Operators, whose roots, according to Kapacziewski and co-author Sasser (Sanctuary, 2013, etc.), go back to pre–Revolutionary War frontiersmen. The author joined the military in order to become a Ranger; he describes handling the Ranger Indoctrination Program, similar to the Navy SEALs’ notorious “Hell Week,” with aplomb. “Rangers would be deployed to combat zones almost constantly” in the years after 9/11, he writes. “This was the best time in all history to be a Ranger.” Yet he bemusedly notes that “[n]othing went wrong” on his first tour of Afghanistan in 2002. Kapacziewski saw combat in repeated tours of Iraq, but he clearly enjoyed both the experience of war and the opportunity to marry an all-American girl at home, Kimberly (who provides narrative counterpoint). At first, under Special Ops’ protective canopy, the author felt charmed: “No one ever seemed to get hurt on our side.” He notes that modern accouterments like satellite phones, the Internet and Skype “made the war seem less dangerous.” But his luck ran out in Mosul in 2005, when a grenade came through a hatch of a Stryker vehicle, resulting in severe injuries to his arm and leg. His difficult rehabilitation makes up the narrative’s final third, with the twist that Kapacziewski’s mulish determination led to a unique triumph: “Almost a year and a half after amputation, I was back on the line as a squad leader…the first amputee to return to full combat duty.” Yet despite all his experiences, the author seems to have issues with the topics of masculinity and service: He makes clear to readers that any modern man who’s not an Army Ranger is probably a “sensitive, touchy-feely” effeminate pseudo-male.

A tale of impressive endurance, not enhanced by the surfeit of machismo.

Pub Date: May 7th, 2013
ISBN: 978-1250010612
Page count: 320pp
Publisher: St. Martin's
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1st, 2013


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