Friday, July 1, 2011
A Real Man
Sometimes a book is so good, you just got to share. Here's my review of Eric Greitens's The Heart and the Fist.
Too often a real man is defined by the baser elements of machismo. By his ability to annihilate his enemy. By the number of notches on his bedpost.
Eric Greitens clarifies the litmus test of a real man.
His story starts out in a liberal attempt to help humankind, detailing humanitarian trips to third-world countries when he was 19 years old to aid the abandoned, the hungry, the homeless. While we were spending summer on the beach, he was helping the people in this world with a shattered past and a hopeless future.
Greitens's epiphany is a result of these selfless acts. People need food and shelter, yes, but they also need protection from tyranny.
His journey leads him to the military's most challenging test, the Navy SEALS. He details the unimaginable training where cadets are drowned and driven into the sand. Where even the most physically fit human is often happy to quit. But Greitens does so without egotistic style, without chest-thumping. His journey is spiritual. "Hell Week tests the soul, it doesn't clean it."
The writing is good. And why not, he's a graduate of Oxford, given the option to live a life of academic freedom and comfort. A life he eschewed for a higher calling that wasn't necessarily religious. The dialogue keeps the scenes from becoming overly dry, but often reads clunky and contrived. Unnatural. Sometimes reads like a squeaky clean sitcom, more Beaver Cleaver than Nickelodeon.
However, Greitens changes the perspective of a kill-first military. Some soldiers are on a spiritual journey. They are real men. Real women.