RECKLESS by Tom Clavin


The Racehorse Who Became a Marine Corps Hero
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More than six decades ago, American Marines fought to hold a hill in Korea. They had significant help from a singular horse.

Clavin (The DiMaggios: Three Brothers, Their Passion for Baseball, Their Pursuit of the American Dream, 2013, etc.) graphically details war on an individual level. Within the relentless account of the bravery of many men, the featured character is a Mongolian racehorse, recruited to carry the heavy ammunition for a recoilless rifle platoon. Named “Reckless,” like the troop’s appellation for their primary weapon, the horse was bought from its Korean owner by the platoon’s lieutenant. The pretty little filly with the white blaze and three white socks appeared to have, according to Clavin, human attributes beyond a fondness for beer. “Iron willed,” she “never shirked or complained” though she seemed to have “a sense of entitlement” as well as a “sense of humor.” Reckless certainly possessed fortitude; what she did one day in 1953 was remarkable. Under heavy enemy fire, she made countless trips up steep terrain carrying heavy shells to supply her platoon. On the way back, she often carried the wounded to safety. It was estimated that she carried more than four tons of ammunition in trips covering more than 30 miles, mostly alone, without guidance or prompting. The fame of the stalwart horse, who gave added resonance to the idea of Semper Fi, grew both within the Corps and among the folks at home. Reckless made sergeant and received several decorations. Despite his research, Clavin’s dramatic tale of the leatherneck steed doesn’t necessarily eschew imaginative elaboration, particularly in regard to her back story. “Readers should keep in mind,” he warns in an endnote, “that what makes for a heck of a story can be highly speculative.”

For military buffs, a blood-soaked war story about a courageous horse.

Pub Date: Aug. 5th, 2014
ISBN: 978-0-451-46650-1
Page count: 352pp
Publisher: NAL Caliber/Berkley
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15th, 2014


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