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The Heart and the Fist: The Education of a Humanitarian, the Making of a Navy SEALby Eric Greitens
Synopses & Reviews
Lipsky, a Rolling Stone writer and an award-winning novelist, chronicles daily life at the U.S. Military Academy during the most tumultuous period in its history.
In 1998, West Point made David Lipsky an unprecedented offer: stay at the Academy as long as you like, go wherever you wish, talk to whomever you want, to discover why some of America's most promising young people sacrifice so much to become cadets. Lipsky followed one cadet class into mess halls, barracks, classrooms, bars, and training exercises, from arrival through graduation. By telling their stories, he also examines the Academy as a reflection of our society: Are its principles of equality, patriotism, and honor quaint anachronisms or is it still, as Theodore Roosevelt called it, the most "absolutely American" institution?
During arguably the most eventful four years in West Point's history, Lipsky witnesses the arrival of TVs and phones in dorm rooms, the end of hazing, and innumerable other shifts in policy and practice known collectively as The Changes. He uncovers previously unreported scandals and poignantly evokes the aftermath of September 11, when cadets must prepare to become officers in wartime.
Absolutely American spotlights a remarkable ensemble of characters: a former Eagle Scout who struggles with every facet of the program, from classwork to marching; a foul-mouthed party animal who hates the military and came to West Point to play football; a farm-raised kid who seems to be the perfect soldier, despite his affection for the early work of Georgia OKeeffe; and an exquisitely turned-out female cadet who aspires to "a career in hair and nails" after the Army. These cadets and their classmates are transformed in fascinating, sometimes astonishing, ways by one of America's most mythologized and least understood challenges. Many of them thrive under the rigorous regimen; others battle endlessly just to survive it. A few give up the fight altogether.
Lipsky's extensive experience covering college students for Rolling Stone helped him gain an exceptional degree of trust and candor from both cadets and administrators. They offer frank insights on drug use, cheating, romance, loyalty, duty, patriotism, and the Army's tortuous search for meaning as new threats loom.
"This book, by Greitens, a senior fellow at the University of Missouri and founder of the Mission Continues charity, confronts the same dilemma as the American military, which strives to be a strong deterrent against the evils of the world while protecting the sick and powerless. The concept of a mighty warrior with a good heart is not an original one, but the humanitarian soldier epiphany comes to an idealistic Greitens after stints in Bosnia, Rwanda, and Gaza, and Calcutta where he sees unspeakable carnage and suffering without end. He takes the words of philosopher John Stuart Mill as his credo: 'The person who has nothing for which he is willing to fight, nothing which is more important than his own personal safety, is a miserable creature.' The rigors of his Navy SEAL training are intensely depicted, as are his deployments in Kenya, Afghanistan, and Iraq, with Greitens slowly evolving into a balanced man with equal parts of compassion and warrior spirit. A glorious tale of humanity, resolve, and strength, Greitens's book reminds us of how many things we take for granted in our well-ordered lives. (Apr.)" Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
In an inspiring memoir from one of the world's most elite warriors, Eric Greitens recounts in remarkable detail his time as a Navy SEAL—from the most harrowing encounters and brutal attacks, to the lessons learned from his humanitarian efforts.
“Meet my hero—Eric Greitens. His life and this book remind us that America remains the land of the brave and generous.” — Tom Brokaw
Like many young idealists, Eric Greitens wanted to make a difference, so he traveled to the worlds trouble spots to work in refugee camps and serve the sick and the poor. Yet when innocent civilians were threatened with harm, there was nothing he could do but step in afterward and try to ease the suffering. In studying humanitarianism, he realized a fundamental truth: when an army invades, the weak need protection. So he joined the Navy SEALs and became one of the worlds elite warriors.
Greitens led his men through the unforgettable soul-testing of SEAL training and went on to deployments in Kenya, Afghanistan, and Iraq, where he faced harrowing encounters and brutal attacks. Yet even in the deadliest combat situations, the lessons of his humanitarian work bore fruit. At the heart of this powerful story lies a paradox: sometimes you have to be strong to do good, but you also have to do good to be strong. The heart and the fist together are more powerful than either one alone.
“If you're restless or itching for some calling you can't name, read this book. Give it to your son and daughter. The Heart and the Fist epitomizes — as does Mr. Greitens's life, present and future — all that is best in this country, and what we need desperately right now.” — Steven Pressfield, author of Gates of Fire
“Vivid and compelling . . . a great read.” — Washington Times
A Hudson Booksellers Top Ten Nonfiction Book of the Year
A USA Today and Publishers Weekly Bestseller
WITH A NEW AFTERWORD
PRAISE FOR The Heart and the Fist
“Eric Greitens is the best of the best. He has the best mental capacity and physical stamina Ive ever seen in a human being. His story teaches us about how to have a heart and a fist to get the most out of life. Along the way, Eric did the most anyone can possibly do for his country. What a story! It should inspire us all to live our lives with purpose and meaning.”—Max Cleland, former U.S. senator
“If you worry that America is no longer a home of heroes, come read this riveting tale of a young mans adventures as a boxer, a thinker, a warrior, and ultimately a humanitarian. He writes admiringly of the Greek notion of phronesis, practical wisdom—‘the ability to figure out what to do while at the same time knowing what is worth doing. Mr. Greitens has plenty of phronesis.”—David Gergen, director, Center for Public Leadership, Harvard Kennedy School, CNN senior political analyst
“The Heart and the Fist is a vitally important, powerful book, a seminal, paradigm-shifting work that should be mandatory reading for every citizen who cares about helping others, with our military or with our humanitarian efforts, in a world filled with starvation, suffering, tyranny, oppression and genocide.”— Lt. Col. Dave Grossman (ret.), author of On Combat and On Killing
“Eric Greitens is exactly the kind of citizen-warrior that America needs to fight our wars abroad and to win our battles at home. A man wise enough to lead, courageous enough to fight, and compassionate enough to care, he has written a glorious book about how to live with purpose that should be required reading for every American.”—Bobby Muller, founder of Veterans for America and cofounder of the Nobel Peace Prize-winning International Campaign to Ban Landmines
About the Author
After receiving a Ph.D. as a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford University, Eric Greitens joined the Navy SEALs in 2001. He deployed four times during the Global War on Terrorism, and received numerous military awards including the Purple Heart and the Bronze Star. He is the founder and CEO of The Mission Continues, Americas leading organization for helping wounded and disabled warriors serve their country as citizen leaders here at home.
Table of Contents
Contents Preface xi Part One THE FIRST YEAR 1 Part Two THE SECOND YEAR 81 Part Three THE THIRD YEAR 139 Part Four THE FOURTH YEAR 243 Bibliography 313 Acknowledgments 315
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