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Man of War: My Adventures in the World of Historical Reenactment Hardcover – May 24, 2012

3.8 out of 5 stars 27 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


"Man of War is an unexpected treat!  I was enamored of Charlie Schroeder's travelogue through the subculture of reenactment and fascinated by his modern take on ancient warfare.  (Who knew the proper buttons were so important?)  They say war is Hell, yet this book is a heck of a lot of fun." —Jen Lancaster, New York Times bestselling author of Jeneration X, If You Were Here, and Bitter is the New Black

"A hilarious romp through 2,000 years of history, one forced march at a time."—J. Maarten Troost, author of The Sex Lives of Cannibals

About the Author

CHARLIE SCHROEDER is a writer, public radio producer, and actor. His writing has appeared in the New York Times, Reader's Digest, and Los Angeles Times as well as in Best American Sports Writing 2006. Radio stories he has produced have been featured on NPR, including Weekend America, Only a Game, On the Media, and Soundcheck. He lives in Los Angeles, California. Visit charlieschroeder.com.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Hudson Street Press; First Edition edition (May 24, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1594630917
  • ISBN-13: 978-1594630910
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 6.4 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (27 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #204,503 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Wayne A. Smith VINE VOICE on July 18, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Kudos for Charlie Schroeder discovering his "inner history nerd" and igniting a desire within himself to learn about a past that he dismissed during his school years. The author's journey from ignorant to learning is impressive and speaks to the potential everyone has to discover new joys of learning whatever one's age.

Unfortunately, Schroeder is a very uneven writer. The good parts of the book are the author's immersions with various historical reenactor groups and the people he meets who portray everyone from Romans and Vikings to American soldiers from our wars up to and including the Vietnam era. He does the technical aspects of reenacting well and gives as good a view for an outsider of what it is like for a newbee (first time reenactor) to join in a weekend's worth of marching, camping and faux-fighting as he and his comrades imagine themselves at places as diverse as Stalingrad, a Roman Fort, Civil War battlefield and a US Vietnam era firebase.

The parts that felt forced or flat for me were the author's side remarks. He has a tendency to slip into sophmoric comments and for me these interfered with the flow of the book. Injecting humor and funny asides in "real-life" books can be done well and is by the likes of Bill Bryson and Tony Horwitz. Schroeder's efforts seem more to be a reflexive jump back to his inner seventeen year old rather than the humor one finds from a mature wit.

There are many interesting parts of the book. His description of his weekend spent rowing as a bateaux-man with a crew reenacting a French and Indian War era barge movement and the physical toll that entails shows the breadth of difficulty of some reenacting experiences.
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Format: Hardcover
Charlie Schroeder's book Man of War has one great advantage to it in that it is one of very few, one of a mere handful, of books about its topic. Very little has been written about reenacting or living history, so his book is a welcome addition.
Unfortunately, aside from rarity of subject, it is not exceptionally good. In full disclosure, this reviewer is a reenactor, so I may be biased somewhat against some of his opinions, but accuracy and opinions were not his only issue. Even non-reenactors will at worst have problems with the book, at best they will be led astray.
His decision to research and write this book came from his attendance at living history event that featured displays from across history. Being curious about the people who would dedicate so much time and resources to such an esoteric hobby, he decides to embark on an ambitious journey, participating in as many different reenacting events in as many time periods as he can in the course of a year. In doing so, he presents a wide variety of hobbies, historical periods, and people. His events include public displays and private events. The best thing about the book is that if you are interested in the topic, each period gets a full chapter, so the reader can see the variety of periods, events, and get to know some of the people involved to a small degree. If someone is thinking of getting into the hobby, this book is the best thing, after the internet, to serve as an introduction. And he covers a good sized breadth of history, from Ancient Rome to the Vietnam War.
If you are a reenactor, however, you will walk away shaking your head at his lack of real depth.
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Format: Hardcover
Man of War is very entertaining in places. The first chapter had my eye watering it was so funny. The breadth is also really interesting, he doesn't just cover the more well-known reenactments such as the American Revolution or Civil War but goes into Roman, WWII and Vietnam reenactments among others.

However, in the very first chapter he describes himself as "NPR listening, New York Times-reading, foreign film-watching, progressive urbanite, friend to gays, Jews, people of color and artists." He often uses his narrative to get in the "last word" when he disagrees with the more conservative reenactors he encounters.

The chapter on Vietnam becomes particularly preachy. At one point he implies that the reason that so much of the military is made up of people from the mid-west and small towns is primarily motivated by economics - and given the choice, the investment (or at least a significant portion of it) in the military would have been better spent providing paintbrushes and hammers to those 18 year olds to "spruce up old storefronts."

Also, in the Vietnam chapter he says "... I've never wanted something so bad I'd ask others to die for it." Ironically I read this chapter during the 2012 Summer Olympics right before NBC aired their special on the Battle of Britain and the sacrifice that so many made to halt Hitler's progress across Europe. I couldn't help but wonder if Mr. Schroeder at 38 has enjoyed the blessings of liberty for too long at too low a personal cost if he could so easily dismiss all human conflict as meaningless.

Even with all that, the political and social slant is not overwhelming, and there are several genuinely entertaining and passages in the book.
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