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About Face: The Odyssey of an American Warrior Paperback – April 15, 1990

4.7 out of 5 stars 127 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

David H. Hackworth (Col., U.S. Army, Ret.) spent almost five years of combat duty in Vietnam, as well as twenty-five years in the service of our nation's defense. His previous two nonfiction books, About Face (available from Touchstone) and Hazardous Duty, and his novel, The Price of Honor,The Price of Honor, were national bestsellers. Eilhys England produces feature films and writes with her partner and husband, David Hackworth. They live in Connecticut and Australia.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 875 pages
  • Publisher: Touchstone (April 15, 1990)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0671695347
  • ISBN-13: 978-0671695347
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 2.1 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.9 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (127 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #15,892 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
[Sadly for all of us, Col David Hackworth died shortly after I wrote this review. Nothing about him or my review of his works needs revision. Hack - we will miss you! Hack - RIP, Mike H, LTC, MI, USA 1970-1996].

Say what you want about Hackworth - you can't deny him his valor or experiences in the Army. "Hack" continues to thrive on controversy - one who is not afraid to stir the pot. This book was his first view on the public stage after his Vietnam exit from the Army.

As a young officer - I first read this book in the career stage of my commission - as a Major - and came away with mixed feelings about his views and attitudes. Hackworth's Vietnam experience - like that of John Kerry's, was a defining point of his life. Both came away from that service determined to change the way government uses the military. Kerry became an anti-military cynic; Hackworth lashed out at the systems' waste and stupidity - in an attempt to make the system better.

During war, Hack would be a leader one would wish to serve under. In peacetime - like so many other warriors - he'd be a disaster in the mindless training environment of a peacetime army. Like a fire extinguisher - keep under glass until an emergency demands his use.

The book is deliberately written to stir controversy. This IS Hackworth and what he is all about. Step on a few important toes to save good soldiers - this IS and always was his intent. When he drifts to politics - watch out! He has no friends in either political party.

If you have never served - and are thinking of signing up - maybe this will give you pause. If the world awaits you as a grand adventure - do what he did - and wear the uniform proudly for a majority of your adult life.
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Format: Paperback
A juvenile delinquent, Hackworth, flees from his confinement and joins the Merchant Marine. Later, he pays off a wino to sign a fraudulent affidavit, as Hackworth's "father" (he was an orphan), that allows him to enter the Army at the age of fifteen. This is the beginning of this book, which ends with this man, now a Colonel, venting condemnation of America's tactics in Vietnam in the press, and his subsequent persecution by Army investigators, in a harrowing, white-knuckle ending.
A man is lucky to find his calling, and Hackworth was born to be a warrior. In a way, this book is an inspiration. It makes one want to be as good in one's profession as Hackworth was in his. And no matter what one's occupation is, one can identify with Hackworth's frustration with and anger at the "perfumed princes" who rose to the top in the Army he knew, and whos' equivalents exist in every field of endeavor. Don't you know people who don't give a grape-skin about the higher goals of their profession, and who live only to feed their ambition? Reading this book is like sitting down and listening to somebody who knows the score.
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Format: Paperback
Two main themes came out of "About Face" for me. The first is that it is an excellent "how-to" manual on practical leadership in the military. All of the lessons pounded into me as an Officer Cadet are shown here. Know you soldiers, care for them, lead by example, don't get them to do what you wouldn't..., the list goes on. In my opinion, this book, or at least large parts of it, should be required reading in every Officer training establishment that seeks to produce real commanders. As I read it, lights came on in my head as I began to understand some of the points I had missed in my training as a cadet. I believe it has been of some benefit to my performance as an Army Officer. For any cadets or junior officers out there, read this book.
The second theme is the way in which he describes an Army sinking into the morass so common of militaries in peacetime. The most worrying thing for me was the parallels I could see happening in my own Army. An easing of standards in recruitment and basic training, decisions being made based on politics and finance, rather than on realities, increasing bureaucratisation and micromanagement, etc, etc, etc. Things seem to be the same all over. Unfortunately, neither Col Hackworth nor I can give any easy answers.
Overall, an excellent book,that should provoke a few thoughts.
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Format: Paperback
About Face is an odessey to read. Like battle itself, it is full of pages of sheer terror separated by long passages of nervous boredom as Hackworth sought to find some identity apart from battle. The Army made him a man, and as long as there were wars to fight he honored "his mother" the military with an almost unbelieveable string of courageous achievements in battle. But when the time to kill was over, Hackworth lost himself, as he more or less admits. He candidly admits not only his many adultries but his fundamental inability to honor his wife and children. He admits constant theft, and tolerated any immorality that would help his unit. Through two thirds of the book you want to enlist to be a stud like Hack. In the last pages you want to slap him in the face for betraying the Army. He was a law unto himself (as the title to the penultimate chapter confesses), both as a maverick in the Pentagon or as the quasi-warlord of a fire base in Vietnam. Many, including Hack, have suggested that he was the model of Colonel Kurtz in Coppola's Apocalypse Now. Whether or not this is true, the comparison is chillingly apt, only Hackworth may be more frightening. Hackworth was genuinely patriotic, undeniably courageous and damn effective in killing Chinese in Korea and Vietcong. But this same warrior spirit refused to bow to any moral principal except his own concept of loyalty to and conern for his troops. "The horror, horror." He saw clearly that guerrilla warfare required a guerilla-style response from the Army (a lesson of continuing significance in modern political battles like Afganistan), and he clearly understood the political nature of the Vietnam War.Read more ›
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