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 Oand#8217;Keeffe; 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.
"If you're in despair about America's future, meet my hero - Eric Greitens.
His life and this book reminds us that America remains the land of the brave and generous.
The heart and fist are just the combination we need." -Tom Brokaw
The Heart and the Fist might have been written in many countries, but its ideals seem to me to be quintessentially American, from and of the United States as she is at her best. That Eric Greitens--Rhodes Scholar, Navy SEAL, international humanitarian worker and founder of the veterans' aid organization, The Mission Continues--is an extraordinary individual goes without saying. But what resounds so powerfully in this book is his consciousness and drive, from the earliest age, not to cash in on his own abundant gifts but to find some path that was worthy of his highest self, some way to be of use, to make a contribution and to really live a life. This is very American. Mr. Greitens combines in one person the warrior ethos of toughness, courage and tenacity with the compassion of the humanitarian. This, too, is very American--not just to win wars or to impose our will or point of view, but to act in the service of others, on their own terms, to put others in touch with their own capacity to manifest this flame that burns so brightly in Mr. Greitens. 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' 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
"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 Vietnam Veterans for America and co-founder of the Nobel Peace Prize Winning International Campaign to Ban Landmines
"The Heart and the Fist is a vitally important, powerful book, along the lines of Seven Pillars of Wisdom by T.E. Lawrence (aka "Lawrence of Arabia"). Filled with adventure, eminently readable, and an incredibly valuable look into the heart and mind of a great man who would serve to guide us into understanding an alien culture.
This book helps to bridge the gap between humanitarian groups and the military (the "heart" and the "fist" ... who are, all too often, truly "alien" to each other!), in the same way that Three Cups of Tea helps bridge the gap between the people of Afghanistan, and those of the West who would assist that nation.
As Three Cups of Tea and Seven Pillars of Wisdom have become mandatory reading in many military organizations, The Heart and the Fist is a seminal, paradigm-shifting work that should be mandatory reading for every military and humanitarian organization who would work together (who must work together!), around the planet, to make our world a better place.
And, even more importantly, this book 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.
This book has turned me into a believer in Eric Greitens' methodology and his cause. Among the first of many to come!" -Lt. Col. Dave Grossman, Lt. Col. USA (ret), author of On Combat and On Killing
"If the United States is going to continue to be the indispensable nation in the 21st century, it is going to require an elite corps of both warriors and humanitarians that combine hard and soft power. Eric Greitens, both in his personal example, and in his book, points the way forward."- Robert D. Kaplan, senior fellow at the Center for a New American Security, author of "Monsoon: The Indian Ocean and the Future of American Power."
"The Heart and The Fist is a defining profile of compassion, courage and commitment that gets to the heart of why we wear the uniform. From combat to the home front, Eric Greitens has demonstrated extraordinary leadership as a Navy SEAL, humanitarian and champion for wounded veterans. His powerful story is testament the service of this Next Greatest Generation that will continue long after the wars end."-Paul Rieckhoff, Founder of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA) and author of Chasing Ghosts.
"Few men who become Navy SEALs enter this elite warrior fraternity with a background so rich in compassion, service, and cross-cultural awareness as did Eric Greitens. And few Navy SEALs have served the growing community of wounded warriors with such skill and dedication as has Eric Greitens and The Mission Continues."-Dick Couch, Author of The Warrior Elite and Chosen Soldier
"One would have to be mighty cynical to resist the power of Greitensand#8217; experiences, and young Americans would benefit from contemplating his message...A remarkable story told with modesty and grace." - Kirkus Reviews
"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." -- Publishers Weekly
"This is a remarkable book that will give today's readers a much fuller picture of the realities of their military." --James Fallows, National Correspondent, The Atlantic Monthly
Fick's book makes [war] become real, with all the heroism and the mistakes that still come with ground combat." -- Richard A. Clarke, author of AGAINST ALL ENEMIES: Inside America's War on Terror
"One Bullet Away is brilliant, a must read for anyone who wants to truly understand what our troops face.' --General Anthony C. Zinni USMC (Retired), former Commander-in-Chief US Central Command, co-author of BATTLE READY
"One can hardly imagine a finer boots-on-the-ground chronicle." Kirkus Reviews, Starred
and#147;One Bullet Away is a singular literary achievement, a gripping account of 21st century war by a 21st century warrior." --Evan Wright, author of Generation Kill
and#147;A brilliant, no-bullshit piece of under-the-helmet reporting." --Steven Pressfield, author of Gates of Fire and The Virtues of War
and#147;This is one of the best books on the Marine Corps in a long time....Terrific." --Tom Ricks, author of Making the Corps and A Soldierand#8217;s Duty, military correspondent, Washington Post
"One Bullet Away is a riveting and highly charged account of modern war." --Lt. Gen. Bernard E. Trainor, USMC (Ret.), author of The Generalsand#8217; War, former military correspondent, New York Times
"Fick's descriptive and exacting writing...guarantees ONE BULLET AWAY a place in the war memoir hall of fame." --Carol Memmott USA Today
"The best sign of military intelligence." Gentleman's Quarterly
"Everyone who cynically dismisses 'the rules of war,' saying, 'there are no rules,' should read this book."
--Jonathan Shay, M.D., Ph.D., senior advisor for ethics and leadership, U.S. Army, and author of Achilles in Vietnam: Combat Trauma and the Undoing of Character and Odysseus in America
"Essential...candid and fast-paced...Like the best combat memoirs, Fick's focuses on the men doing the fighting and avoids...sensationalism." Publishers Weekly
and#147;The psychological distance between those who serve and fight, and those who publish and pontificate, is vast. Nathaniel Fick has closed the gap considerably with this fine book.and#8221; --Robert D. Kaplan, author of Imperial Grunts: The American Military on the Ground
"[Fick] is a keen observer whose fine writing is distinguished by its intelligence and candor...Compelling...A riveting read." --Michelle Green People Magazine
"Tough-minded, beautifully written." Men's Journal
"Embrace the wisdom of this generation's military spokesman. Read One Bullet Away." --military.com
"A fascinating, funny and tremendously well written account of life on the Long Gray Line." --Lev Grossman Time Magazine
"[A]ddictive . . . could inspire even nonmilitary buffs to follow the cadets' careers like those of their favorite sports stars..." --T. Trent Gegax Newsweek
"A superb description of modern military culture,...one of the most gripping accounts of university life [I've] read..." --David Brooks The New York Times Book Review
and#147;Illuminatingand#133;Lipsky has done a distinguished service to a proud school.and#8221; --Wook Kim Entertainment Weekly
and#147;Immensely richand#133;A genuinely evocative and wonderfully detailed portrait of an absolutely American institution.and#8221; --Brian Palmer
How best to save the worldas saint, soldier, or . . . both?
Like many young idealists, Eric Greitens wanted to make a difference. Throughout college and after, he traveled to the world's trouble spots, working in refugee camps, serving the sick and the poor on four continents, from Gaza to Croatia to Mother Theresa's home in Calcutta, among others. Yet he could not prevent violence or save anyone from becoming a refugee, he could only step in afterward, and try to ease the damage.
So he joined the Navy SEALs, and became one of the world's most elite warriors. In a moving and inspiring, and yet also humble memoir, Eric offers something new in the history of military memoirs: a warrior who wanted to be strong to be good, only to discover that he had to be good to be strong. Throughout his SEAL training and deployments in Kenya, Thailand, Afghanistan, and Iraq, the lessons of his humanitarian work bore fruit. The result is a lesson for us all: The heart and fist together are more powerful than either one alone.
THE HEART AND THE FIST shares one manand#8217;s story of extraordinary leadership and service as both a humanitarian and a warrior. In a life lived at the raw edges of the human experience, Greitens has seen what can be accomplished when compassion and courage come together in meaningful service.
As a Rhodes Scholar and Navy SEAL, Greitens worked alongside volunteers who taught art to street children in Bolivia and led US Marines who hunted terrorists in Iraq. Heand#8217;s learned from nuns who fed the destitute in one of Mother Teresaand#8217;s homes for the dying in India, from aid workers who healed orphaned children in Rwanda, and from Navy SEALs who fought in Afghanistan. He excelled at the hardest military training in the world, and today he works with severely wounded and disabled veterans who are rebuilding their lives as community leaders at home.
Greitens offers each of us a new way of thinking about living a meaningful life. We learn that to win any war, even those we wage against ourselves; to create and obtain lasting peace; to save a life; and even, simply to live with purpose requires usand#8212;every one of usand#8212;to be both good and strong.
A former captain in the Marinesand#8217; First Recon Battalion, who fought in Afghanistan and Iraq, reveals how the Corps trains its elite and offers a point-blank account of twenty-first-century battle.
If the Marines are and#147;the few, the proud,and#8221; Recon Marines are the fewest and the proudest. Only one Marine in a hundred qualifies for Recon, charged with working clandestinely, often behind enemy lines. Fickand#8217;s training begins with a hellish summer at Quantico, after his junior year at Dartmouth, and advances to the pinnacleand#151;Reconand#151;four years later, on the eve of war with Iraq. Along the way, he learns to shoot a man a mile away, stays awake for seventy-two hours straight, endures interrogation and torture at the secretive SERE course, learns to swim with Navy SEALs, masters the Eleven Principles of Leadership, and much more.
His vast skill set puts him in front of the front lines, leading twenty-two Marines into the deadliest conflict since Vietnam. He vows he will bring all his men home safely, and to do so heand#8217;ll need more than his top-flight education. Heand#8217;ll need luck and an increasingly clear vision of the limitations of his superiors and the missions they assign him. Fick unveils the process that makes Marine officers such legendary leaders and shares his hard-won insights into the differences between the military ideals he learned and military practice, which can mock those ideals. One Bullet Away never shrinks from blunt truths, but it is an ultimately inspiring account of mastering the art of war.
In an inspiring memoir from one of the world's most elite warriors, Eric Greitens recounts in remarkable detail his time as a Navy SEALand#8212;from the most harrowing encounters and brutal attacks, to the lessons learned from his humanitarian efforts.
A piercing and inspiring memoir by a Navy SEAL for whom service means a lot more than his time wearing the uniform Like many young idealists, Eric Greitens wanted to make a difference. Throughout college and after, he traveled to the worlds trouble spots, working in refugee camps and serving the sick and the poor on four continents, from Gaza to Croatia to Mother Teresas home in Calcutta, among others. Yet when innocent civilians were threatened with harm, there was nothing he could do but step in afterward and try to ease the suffering. He became a Rhodes Scholar to study the history of humanitarianism, in search of a better way, but all the theory in the world could not get past the fundamental problem: when an army invades, the weak need to be protected. So he joined the Navy SEALs and became one of the worlds elite warriors. As an officer, he led his men through the unforgettable soul-testing of SEAL training, culminating in Hell Week — recounted in these pages with remarkable detail — and went on to deployments in Kenya, Thailand, Afghanistan, and Iraq, where he faced harrowing encounters and brutal militia attacks. Yet even when he wore heavy armor and wielded some of the deadliest combat arms, the lessons of his humanitarian work bore fruit. At the heart of Erics 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 fist together are more powerful than either one alone.
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
and#8220;Meet my heroand#8212;Eric Greitens. His life and this book remind us that America remains the land of the brave and generous.and#8221; and#8212; Tom Brokaw
Like many young idealists, Eric Greitens wanted to make a difference, so he traveled to the worldand#8217;s 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 worldand#8217;s 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.
and#8220;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 and#8212; as does Mr. Greitens's life, present and future and#8212; all that is best in this country, and what we need desperately right now.and#8221; and#8212; Steven Pressfield, author of Gates of Fire
and#8220;Vivid and compelling . . . a great read.and#8221; and#8212; Washington Times
A Hudson Booksellers Top Ten Nonfiction Book of the Year
A USA Today and Publishers Weekly Bestseller
WITH A NEW AFTERWORD
About the Author
After receiving a BA in classics from Dartmouth, Nathaniel Fick served as an infantry oficer and then as an elite Recon Marine. He saw action in Afghanistan and Iraq before leaving the Corps as a captain. He is now a Fellow at the Center for a New American Security in Washington, D.C. He is the author of the New York Times bestseller ONE BULLET AWAY. Fick is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and the International Institute of Strategic Studies, and serves as a Director of the Marine Corps Scholarship Foundation and the Rockefeller Center for Public Policy at Dartmouth College. He holds a B.A. from Dartmouth, an MBA from the Harvard Business School, and an MPA in international security policy from Harvard's John F. Kennedy School of Government.
Table of Contents
I: MIND AND FIST
II: HEART AND MIND
III: HEART AND FIST
and#160;8.and#160;OFFICER CANDIDATE SCHOOLand#8195;131
and#160;11.and#160;ADVANCED COMBAT TRAININGand#8195;204
and#160;and#160;EPILOGUE: THE MISSION CONTINUESand#8195;285
Authorand#8217;s Note and Acknowledgmentsand#8195;299