I don’t know why the Marines landed at my house, but they did. I recently received a hefty photo book featuring Marines who participated in the Battle of Najaf and Second Battle of Fallujah in Afghanistan AND a book teaching readers the rules for life based on the teachings of Marine warriors.
Wait a minute, I never wanted to be a Marine, much less a warrior. Why send these books to me?
Maybe, my lack of understanding of the life of a soldier in combat or my admitted not-so-disciplined life prompted a friend to take action. Or more likely, I was just lucky, being randomly selected among folks who do online book reviewing.
“All of Which I Saw” is a coffee-table book by photo-journalist Lucian Read. His book presents the best and most telling photographs of the 30,000 photographs he took during 2004-2008 when he traveled with Marines in Afghanistan. The photos are interspersed with short bursts of descriptive material.
Heroism, brotherhood, destruction, joy, introspection, haircuts, heat, squalor, tension, smoke, smiles, tears, boredom and hugs are all in the book, plus so much more. Frankly, no words can capture the intensity of this quite stunning book. Each page requires the reader to take a minute and feel as well as see the pictures presented. The pages are large and in color; at the end of the book, readers can find the captions for each photo.
The audience for “All of Which I Saw” would be other photographers, young folks who want to know what service to one’s country is like, former Marines and just about anybody who wants to feel and see life as a fighting force in the Middle East.
I doubt if anyone who carefully pages through this book will ever forget it.
Moving on to “The Warrior’s Book of Virtues” by Nick Benas, Matt Bloom and Buzz Bryan: this is a self-help book with Marine discipline in mind. In some ways, the advice is simply common sense, but then the reader realizes that not living up to what one knows is right has consequences.
Here are the chapter headings in this 191-page book: Discipline, Prudence, Temperance, Charity, Fortitude, Decisiveness, Hope, Bearing and Justice.
We all generally believe in these virtues, right? But the book attacks each subject as if it were new information and ends with a listing of the things that lack of attention to the particular virtue described can produce. Fortunately, another list in each chapter talks about action steps an individual can take to overcome their shortcomings.
In short, though I never would have, on my own, purchased “The Warrior’s Book of Virtues”, I found the book quite valuable and positive. Examining one’s life is a tune-up for the future.
For example, a Marine is taught to arrive at appointments 15 minutes early. That’s a wonderful trait in life as well, but do we always measure up? Or how about resisting temptation or over-extending yourself? The ability to say “no” can be a valuable life lesson as well.
The cover of “The Warrior’s Book of Virtues” calls it “A Field Manual for Living Your Best Life” and I agree, the book is just that.
PS: I just dropped my dogs off at the vet and saw this sign which also summarizes a great life lesson: “Be the person your dog thinks you are.”