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The Heart and the Fist: The education of a humanitarian, the making of a Navy SEAL [Kindle Edition]

Eric Greitens
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (354 customer reviews)

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Book Description

THE HEART AND THE FIST shares one man’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. He’s learned from nuns who fed the destitute in one of Mother Teresa’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 us—every one of us—to be both good and strong.

Editorial Reviews Review

A Note from the Author

Dear Amazon Readers:

As a kid growing up in Missouri, I loved reading stories about heroes like King Arthur, George Washington, and Pericles. Their lives were full of action and courage, and I wanted to capture that same sense of adventure in my own life. As I grew older, great mentors and friends have shown me that the path to adventure and purpose can be found in a life of service to others.

These friends and mentors have come from many different backgrounds. I’ve been blessed to work with volunteers who taught art to street children in Bolivia and Marines who hunted al Qaeda terrorists in Iraq. I’ve learned from nuns who fed the destitute in Mother Teresa’s homes for the dying in India, aid workers who healed orphaned children in Rwanda, and Navy SEALs who fought in Afghanistan. As warriors, as humanitarians, they’ve taught me that without courage, compassion falters, and without compassion, courage has no direction. They’ve shown me that it is within our power, indeed the world requires of us — every one of us — to be both good and strong.

I hope the stories recounted in The Heart and the Fist will inspire you as these people have inspired me. They have given me hope and shown me the incredible possibilities that exist for each of us to live our one life well.

--Eric Greitens

From Publishers Weekly

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.)
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

Product Details

  • File Size: 5052 KB
  • Print Length: 345 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 054742485X
  • Publisher: Mariner Books; Reprint edition (April 11, 2011)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B004TC0GZY
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
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  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,560 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
181 of 188 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Riveting True Life Tale April 9, 2011
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This book should be required reading for anyone with an interest in service--from the Peace Corps to the Marine Corps. It is a riveting true life tale of a modern day renaissance man. From humanitarian intervention in post-genocidal Africa to hunting al Qaeda in coastal villages in the Philippines, The Heart and the Fist explores the depths of our world and a young man who has served it in many ways.

"The world needs many more humanitarians than it needs warriors, but there can be none of the former without enough of the latter," are the words of this Rhodes Scholar and Oxford PhD as he makes his decision to join the US Navy SEAL Teams. Rhodes Scholars are meant to contribute to "the world's fight", and none have demonstrated a willingness to do so more than Eric Greitens. Described elegantly and with integrity in Greitens' memoir are his humanitarian missions to Rwanda, the Balkans, India, Gaza, and many other of the world's most oppressed and unfortunate regions. These pursuits of the heart are juxtaposed poignantly against SEAL training and four combat deployments with Naval Special Warfare.

Greitens lives the life of a humanitarian and a warrior, and for both roles he is able to extract unique insights by virtue of his extensive study of Greek philosophy, American history, and modern-day saints like Mother Teresa. It is a defining work for our next generation of heroes.
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42 of 42 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A great read that should find a wide audience April 22, 2011
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
The Heart and the Fist is a great read that should appeal to a wide audience. The author is a masterful story teller, and he has some very interesting stories to tell. The book opens with the author being blasted awake, literally, by a suicide truck bomb in Iraq. As he is medically evacuated he says goodbye to his second in command, Lieutenant Travis Manion, not knowing that Manion will soon be killed in action making the farewell permanent. Just like in a movie the main character, Greitens, then goes back in time to tell the story of how he got to that fateful moment in Iraq in the first place.

The book can be divided into three sections. In the first section the author describes his upbringing, education, and his foreign travel where he worked in humanitarian causes, and on furthering his education. This section of the book could easily be expanded into a standalone book of its own. Greiten's has been to the scene of some of the greatest humanitarian disasters of the last 20 years; places like Bosnia and Rwanda. He is able to tell the story of the average person in these terrible places, and capture them as people with whom the reader can readily empathize. Rather than dwelling on the misery at hand Greitens is always questioning why these situations were allowed to happen to begin with, and ponders the question of who should be responsible for preventing atrocities in places like Rwanda. At the same time that he is trying to help bring aid and healing he wonders what he should do to prevent humanitarian crisis from arising in the first place. In all his humanitarian work he has always been keenly aware that he is only a visitor, a temporary player on the stage who can exit to safety and comfort whenever he wants.
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91 of 98 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Reading about a Humanitarian Soldier April 6, 2011
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I am really NOT into books about soldiers and war. However, I thought I would read this book, then pass it on to my nephew, who wants to join the Navy Seals. I was totally surprised by how well this book is written, and the remarkable and gripping story Eric Greitens tells.

While going to college then grad school, Greitens spends his summers helping others in China, Bosnia, Rwanda, and Bolivia. His eyes are opened by the great need of others around the world, and how by helping those in need, he could not prevent people from being victime of ethnic cleansing and other violence. Therefore he becomes a warrior by joining the Navy Seals.

Greitens has a very gripping account of the Seal training and Hell Week, as well as some remarkable photos of it. He then relates how he used this training to serve and survive in Kenya, Thailand, Afghanistan, and Iraq. The entire book is gripping to read, and very remarkable in how much the author has done before he turned 30. It is quite refreshing to read of a life lived to serve and protect others.
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63 of 70 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Inspiring Story - Great Book April 5, 2011
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
This is the story of someone who accomplished more by the time he was 28 than most people do in a lifetime. I had not read anything about the book, and just by the cover, I was expecting it to be "just another Iraq/Afghanistan story". . . but it's SO much more than that. Greitens, a smart, outgoing guy who is well-educated, has already been to suffering places like Rwanda and India before he started his SEAL training. Though he could have taken a much easier road, he decides to take-on the challenge of the U.S. military instead. Very inspiring book. It will leave you wanting to be a better person.

I HIGHLY recommend watching the series "Surviving the Cut" to have a better idea of what he went through during his training. Click the link below and you will see all six episodes, available for download through

Special Forces Diver
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Excellent story of understanding the crazy, barbaric world we live in. I'm definitely buying other books by Eric Greitens.
Published 3 days ago by Teresa A. Johnson
5.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable Read
Enjoyable read.
Published 4 days ago by Danielle Steffey
5.0 out of 5 stars Best books ever
This is one of the best books I’ve ever read and I’ve read a lot of books. Very inspirational. I am not someone that reads about military or even autobiographies but this spoke to... Read more
Published 5 days ago by K. Fay
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
couldnt put it down
Published 11 days ago by NSM
2.0 out of 5 stars Heavily Humanitarian, not enough SEAL stuff
This book focuses on the Pre Warrior education and life experiences, before becoming a Navy SEAL. Yes he went to combat, and served our Country, I was just looking for a story... Read more
Published 15 days ago by Kevin Corbett
4.0 out of 5 stars Truly Living Your Convictions
The beginning of this book was "nice" in my mind. It was great that the author did all these wonderful deeds. Read more
Published 21 days ago by Kathleen Ortmayer
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Great insights. Really enjoyed reading. Would recommend to anyone who likes reading about world events.
Published 25 days ago by Jessie
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Book!
An excellent read written by an excellent author! The Heart and the Fist is a book that simply must be read by everyone! I highly recommend this amazing book!
Published 1 month ago by Dillon U.
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent!
I couldn't put it down. It was both entertaining and inspirational. I actually highlighted certain passages to share with my friends and family.
Published 1 month ago by Michael Harris
5.0 out of 5 stars If you read about our great SEALs, you must read this one
This! A hidden gem. If you read about our great SEALs, you must read this one.
Published 1 month ago by RideFast
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More About the Author

Eric Greitens was born and raised in Missouri. A Navy SEAL, Rhodes Scholar, boxing champion, and humanitarian leader, Eric earned his Ph.D. from Oxford University. He did research and documentary photography work with children and families in Rwanda, Albania, Mexico, India, Croatia, Bolivia, and Cambodia.

The founder of The Mission Continues and the author of the New York Times best-seller The Heart and the Fist, Eric was named by Time magazine as one of the 100 most influential people. Fortune magazine named him one of the 50 greatest leaders in the world. Eric lives in Missouri with his wife, Sheena and son, Joshua.

To learn more about Eric and his work, please visit

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