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Sunday, November 27, 2011

SBD Seal Team Six

It's only a vague opinion, not a strong one -- but I didn't entirely trust the author. When it came to descriptions of battle and training, I had no issue because
1. I have no idea what he's talking about
2. Those parts are straightforward and technical.

Some anecdotes are harrowing, and others--like about the guys who're sleep deprived--are pretty funny and harrowing. And I loved the description of training as a sniper, but not so much about his personal experience of it because..... well, see that first sentence.

I think my disbelief comes from his family's strong response to his portrayal of his stepfather.  Maybe I'm naive, but I tend to believe the family is correct and Howard might have exaggerated or worse. The monster he described would have had to face some consequences to his actions. I mean nightly beatings with a belt? And no one else in his family apparently even talked about this harsh treatment? Doesn't ring true.

So that semi-belief that he's inaccurate colored my reading of the book. It would be interesting to know if Wasdin's memories seem on target to him but in reality are way off the mark (heh. sniper humor). No one's memory is entirely accurate but maybe for certain personalities there's a bigger slide away from reality. Maybe it's a useful survival mechanism for a soldier?

I also wonder about his voice because he didn't seem particularly self-aware or thoughtful. For instance, he goes on about how his job is to uphold the constitution of the US but doesn't notice this when he tells the story about trouncing some guys who ask "why doesn't the US stay out of other countries' business?" (Sure, the guys were taunting assholes, but dude, freedom of speech is right there as a first amendment to that precious item of ours.) We don't really hear about any of his screw ups (except the funny hallucination).

He went from being a super soldier (that I certainly believe after hearing about that training. Wow.) to a chiropractor. I like the fact that he seems to take as much pride in his current mundane job as his former elite occupation. Maybe he believes that is true all the time. Or maybe he occasionally acts as if his current work is as important because pride's important to him, or maybe because he is a salesman (a successful one, too) but never mind. . As I said, I like that bit. And it sounds like he made a good adjustment (heh. adjustment. Chiropractic humor) from a dark time. There's a vivid description of a sick and crippled Wasdin finally leaving the house and his despair at his encounter with the unpleasant lady -- that I believed.

What else. Hmmmmmm

Occasionally, I wondered if he got endorsements from all the brand-name items he mentioned. He did a good job of telling us why he liked 'em.

As a read, I'd say nothing fabulous, nothing terrible.

I wonder if I would have liked it more if I'd trusted the storyteller.The funny thing is Wasdin reminds me of my father and other men I knew from that greatest generation. I've thought about these guys a lot, probably more than they did. They seemed physically brave, emotionally somewhat disconnected....and maybe not entirely honest because of pride and the fear of losing that pride to fear.

A tiger eating or fleeing his own tail.

Tiger butter! (and hey, why is that book so frowned upon? Sambo is smart and wins in the end.)

Okay, time to stop wandering around on this. 3.5 stars out of 5 because I think it's a book I can rate.

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