A recounting of a man’s spiritual journey from anger to inner peace.
Debut author George, inspired by the example of his father and three uncles, who all saw combat in World War II, attended the Citadel in 1963—a military academy in South Carolina with a reputation for brutal rites of passage. After his graduation, he enlisted in the U.S. Air Force and was sent to serve as an intelligence officer in Thailand in 1968, at the height of the Vietnam War. George witnessed not only the grim wages of armed conflict—and even accompanied some pilots on their combat missions—but also the troops’ demoralization, due to politicians’ unprincipled leadership. After his overseas tour concluded, he was stationed in Las Vegas but eventually left in 1972 to join the Los Angeles Police Academy. However, life as an LA cop made him angry and disillusioned, and the emotional distance between himself and his wife grew, leading to divorce in 1977: “How do you remove pain, suffering, avarice, and brutality yet fairly convey the experiences of a policeman to someone who has never experienced the dark side of humanity?” he writes. George later resigned from the force and found himself searching for spiritual succor. He finally discovered solace in Christianity, a religion he once thought was mired in hypocrisy. He later embarked on a corporate career, remarried, and devoted himself to deepening his faith; he ended up starting a new church and became a fire department chaplain. On the whole, the lesson that George communicates in this remembrance isn’t a groundbreaking one; there’s no shortage of autobiographies that recount a journey from repressed trauma to spiritual enlightenment. Still, his story is told with humor and charm, and it’s likely to be an especially poignant tale for readers who’ve also served in the military. Throughout, the author effectively laces his recollections with lighthearted moments and candid self-effacement. At one point, for example, he relates a story about how he pulled a man from a burning apartment, the result of an unattended pot of menudo on the stove. The odor penetrated George’s clothes so deeply that he had no choice but to throw them out, and his superiors gave him a special award: “As far as I know, I’m the only LAPD officer ever to receive the Medal of Menudo.”
An often affecting, if formulaic, story that’s unpretentiously told.