Sunday, June 15, 2014

Sometimes in war there are no hero's, only survivors. And everyone "survives" differently afterwards.....

Sean Davis' "Wax Bullet War" is taking a special place on my book shelf.  There are plenty of books that have already been written.  Take out all of the fictional books written by people who never served in the military, let alone served in a war zone.  Your list got much smaller.  Now take out the books that are non-fictional, but use the book to showcase the heroics of a person or group of people.  Your list is much more manageable.  Take what's left and pull out the ones dealing with the Iraq war, told from a soldiers point of view that shows what really happens before, during, and after the war - with warts and all showing.  You will probably be left with "Wax Bullet War."

 Davis does an excellent job of capturing all of the little nuances about being sent into a combat zone, specifically as a member of a "Reserve Unit" or National Guard Unit.  I can speak to this from a unique perspective - I was activated by the Marine Reserves for Desert Storm.  Reading this book brought back many emotions in me - one of which was the realization that even 20 years later, many things just haven't changed.  Troops are still being asked to perform dangerous missions with substandard equipment, poor planning, non-existent intel (one of the missions given to Davis consists of a PowerPoint slide with shapes and lines that really just depicted a general idea of what they were supposed to accomplish).  This "office style" type of leadership would be laughable, except real soldiers are involved.  The person who sends out these young men into harms way has the daunting task of pressing the "print" button, and telling someone to make it happen.  Those with the skin in the game usually don't take their parts in the play so lightly.

I appreciate that Davis does not go out of his way to portray himself as a hero or a victim in "Wax Bullet War."  As he states in the book, he knew what he was getting himself into.  This is where people who write about wars who have never been there miss the point, because they just don't get this mindset.  Civilians who have never been asked to sacrifice for people they don't even know will never "get" the people who give up material wealth, some of the best years of their youth, and possibly their lives for an idea and people that they have been thrown together with as part of a "unit."

Davis has accomplished the daunting feat of putting all of his raw emotions into words allowing the reader to share in his feelings, while at the same time keeping the focus on what was going on around him.  This is captured beautifully when dealing with the parts before, during, and especially after Davis' time in country. 

I can't write a review that can truly capture the essence of this book, even knowing exactly where the author is coming from.  It may be that I am not an artist (as the author is) to be able to paint the picture of how I feel about this book using only words.  I can only tell you that this is a book I recommend highly and should be on every shelf of readers who want to how a war time experience can affect a person on many different levels.  While traveling in Norfolk, Virginia I had "Wax Bullet War" with me sitting on the table.  A man with a Navy hat on walked up to me a said "That is an excellent book" and walked away.  I finished it that night, and that Sailor knew a good book when he read one.

I write this next statement and truly hope Sean Davis reads this, because I know he will understand:

From all of the soldiers across generations who are carrying scars that will never be seen, can not be shown  can not be "fixed" with a surgery or procedure, and will not be recognized with a medal of purple and the profile of our first president - thank you for putting pen to paper and beautifully describing what many of us would like to express to our loved ones but can't put it into words.

Amazon Link

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1 comment:

  1. Nate, I very much appreciate these words. Thank you for taking time to read about my experiences. It's great to connect with other veterans. That's the biggest reason I wrote the book, other than helping me get through the hard times. I'm honored. Thanks,