The burly memoir of a diabetic Vietnam veteran recalling his later-in-life adventures as a Department of Defense contractor in the war-ravaged but, for contractors, lucrative Middle East.
The author, who uses the pen name Tenacity (T.W.S.C.: A Shrouded Autobiography, 2014), is nothing if not unusual. In 2003 and in his 50s, a time in life when many are contemplating retirement, he signed on with a defense contractor and headed off for Saddam Hussein’s former palace in Baghdad, his assigned digs while he worked setting up phone and computer systems. Nobody was there to meet him at the airport when he arrived. This was no great problem for the swashbuckling author, whose resourcefulness and fatalistic willingness to take risks—themes that recur throughout the book—got him not only to the palace gate, but through six years as a contractor in far-flung outposts where he was regularly three times the age of the soldiers around him. His sometimes-dicey travels to various Iraqi cities and also to Afghanistan, Qatar, Kuwait, and Oman are detailed along with his observant but often less-than-vivid impressions of each post and the people there. Readers learn that his pen name befits his indispensable-man doggedness in repairing and upgrading computers and devices. However, in this essentially ground-level chronicle, those looking for deep insights into Middle Eastern affairs will not find it among the author’s scattered, big-picture opinions. For instance, the author does not or will not satisfy our interest in knowing how much he and other contractors earned for working in these often hazardous places. Yet the book, which is enhanced by black-and-white photos, is brightened by an improbable love story in which the author, who has grown children but makes no mention of a wife, wooed and eventually wedded a Brazilian woman whom he met on eHarmony while in Oman during 2006 and 2007. Pictures of these two in exotic climes light up what are otherwise fairly pedestrian snapshots of places and people. Many include the author, who is less reluctant to show his face than he is to reveal his name.
Forthright remembrances of a highly capable author’s gritty sojourns in some of the world’s most dangerous places.