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The Heart and the Fist: The education of a humanitarian, the making of a Navy SEAL Hardcover – April 11, 2011
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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.)
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Eric Greitens has lived an extraordinary and interesting life and he has graciously shared it with his readers. He has stories to tell and we would be wise to listen and learn from those stories. At times, the stories were heartwarming and other times, they were heartbreaking — I laughed and I cried. There are uplifting stories and stories that will make you weep. There are stories that make you question man's inhumanity to man and stories restore your hopes for a better future. There are stories of families fleeing for their lives and stories of perseverance and survival. There are stories about Eric Greitens' time performing charity work and his time as a US Navy SEAL.
This was an extremely thought-provoking book and it renews my hope in mankind. I am thankful for people who are selfless and giving like Mr. Greitens and thankful that this real American hero stepped up, time and time again, to proudly serve his country — in and out of uniform. My idea of a real hero is someone who voluntarily serves his/her country — especially those who volunteer to serve in uniform (they are willing to die for you — what are you willing to do for them?). I literally cannot say enough good things about this book — it should be required reading.
Even though I am a Kindle Unlimited Member and could have read this book free, I decided 20% of the way in, I wanted this book as part of my permanent digital library, so I purchased my kindle copy. Thank you so much for sharing your story, Mr. Greitens!
The third part covers in detail his experiences in officer candidate school, SEAL training, hell week, advanced combat training and his duties in Afghanistan, southeast Asia, Kenya and Iraq. The middle portion of the book has numerous photographs of various experiences of the author, Eric Greitens. This is a well-written memoir of a man who is truly a well-rounded and competent modern day leader and warrior. This is a book for anyone who is interested in the qualities of what it means to be a U.S. Navy SEAL warrior, as well as a humanitarian. It is clear to me, that one of the reasons the author made it through the tough SEAL training was because of his previous life experiences and education. This book was a real page turner and an enjoyable read.
Rating: 5 Stars. Joseph J. Truncale (Author: The Samurai Soul: An old warrior's poetic tribute).
Let me also say what this book is not. This book is not a advertisement for the Navy SEAL's, or special operations in general. Greitens does a great job of outlining the limits of what elite warriors can do for our nation, and the synergy necessary between SOF and conventional components. His own personal illustrations of working with Marines in Fallujah, mentoring, training, teaching, and evaluating with them on the move as he works to bring Iraqi's into the fight against their home-insurgency is a great tale. Overall, the book starts the way many biographies do, sort of in the middle, and then retraces it steps all the way to the end.
A product of the midwest, he plays down his early starting roots. However, he completes his undergrad at Duke, so it could not have been all that bad. Not only that, but his work there allowed him to be selected as a Rhodes Scholar. He describes his travels around the world during his stay at the two educational institutions, and then "heart" that he refers to in the title, and the "education of a humanitarian" is mainly during these trips. He describes poverty, depravation, the effects of war and disaster with a sort of subtle language that places you there without overwhelming you with it. The message is clearly conveyed, and you can see it before you, but you do not turn away. And a saint makes an appearance, so you get extra points for that.
The book is well over halfway done when he finally makes his decision to become a SEAL, and unlike so many others he describes the trepidations and considerations that went into the decision. He talks honestly about his problems with Navy training, and how it initially left him unimpressed. His description of BUD/S, and Hell Week specifically is one of the best in writing now, again making clear how hard the training is. He masters it, and comes out on the other end a Navy SEAL.
Unfortunately, the book goes downhill a bit after that. The descriptions of operations after that are well within the security regulations prescribing such things, but he seems to not really have a story to tell on what our wars mean. There is analysis of the situation in Afghanistan, which is wholly missing on his time in Iraq. It ends rather rapidly, without much context or thought, and in between he spends no time telling us what life as an officer in the SEAL's is actually like. There is a tale of misconduct, but he does not make a larger illumination or discovery about it. There is more likely then not enough there to fill another book, but that part remains unavailable to the reader.
Overall, this is a solid story that needs telling. Everyone should be glad that it was.