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Semper Cool: One Marine's Fond Memories of Vietnam Hardcover – December 1, 2010

4.6 out of 5 stars 181 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Many Vietnam veterans look back in anger on their wartime experiences, but Fixler, who endured one of the bloodiest battles of the war, isn't one of them. The gruesome 77 days he spent defending an isolated hilltop near the border with North Vietnam forms the core of this nostalgic memoir. Growing up in a predominately middle-class Jewish neighborhood, Fixler was dazzled by his father's stories of WWII and volunteered for Vietnam to earn his respect. As a teen, Fixler got into his fair share of trouble and that cockiness seeps into these pages. Arrival at the Marine Corps' Parris Island boot camp is compared to "being thrown into a Nazi concentration camp." He celebrates his sexual escapades and never sugarcoats the nasty business of war; he'd do "everything again in heartbeat." Yet as wistful as he is about the "discipline" and "camaraderie" of the Corps, he's unrelenting in his scorn for the soldiers who return in psychological pieces, suggesting that soldiers should just get used to killing. Nowhere near the league of We Were Soldiers Once...and Young, Fixler is nonetheless an intriguing, rare bird: a man who survived "hell in the raw" without a trace of trauma-or remorse.
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Review

This is a powerful and raw book about one man's experience of war in Vietnam. It is unflinching, direct and scary on several different levels. --John D., layersofthought.net

Your stories of combat are timeless and will resonate with warriors across the generations... I am heartened for our nation that this story will remind everyone of you who answered our nation's call. --General James N. Mattis, USMC, commander in chief, U.S. Central Command

No book to date covers a Marine's journey before during and after the Vietnam conflict with so much depth, understanding and passion as Barry Fixler's Semper Cool. His book is a page turner. The pride and brotherhood of the Marine Corps is the star of this great human story. Welcome home brothers. -- --Captain Dan Lauria, USMC (Ret.), AKA Jack Arnold, The Wonder Years
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Exalt Press; First edition (December 1, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0982518404
  • ISBN-13: 978-0982518403
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 1.1 x 9.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (181 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #628,808 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is easily one of the best memoirs of the Vietnam War I've read. Unlike contemporary remembrances, the book steers clear of the politics of the era and doesn't seek to pass judgement on anyone's motives or actions. It's a simple telling of one grunt's adventures and misadventures during his tour. In it, Barry Fixler describes how he was transformed from an upper-middle class Jewish kid from Long Island into a battle hardened combat veteran. At times humorous (one story regarding a patrol had me rolling on the floor, I was laughing so hard) and at times dramatic and wrenching, there can be no doubt that this was written from the heart of a Marine. One word of warning: this book is written by a combat veteran and doesn't hold back when relating the horrors of war or the ways Marines tend to spend their liberty time. If you're the squeamish type, be prepared.

If you're interested in military history, the Vietnam Era or he Marine Corps, you definitely need to read this book. If your're just interested in getting a good read that will both entertain and make you think a bit about some of life's existential questions, you should get this book. As an added bonus, Barry is donating all of his proceeds to assist wounded veterans returning from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
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Format: Hardcover
Cover

At first glance, a person may only see three guys laughing at the camera. Looking closer, and after reading the title, you realize these guys are Marines ... and one of them is holding a human skull. I enjoyed seeing smiling faces on the cover of a book about the military. Most of the time the people pictured are so solemn (and with good reason).

What most intrigued me about this cover was the knowledge about the photo the reader gained. In the book, Barry (the author and middle guy in the cover photo ... yes, the one holding the skull) lets you know that the guy on the left died shortly after the photo was taken and the guy on the right lost both of his legs ... proving what Barry was told when he arrived in Vietnam: that he had a 1 in 3 chance of leaving Nam in tact, which meant without dying or losing any body parts. Now, look at the cover again and tell me its not poignant or awe-inspiring.

Plot

I love the way this Marine's story was told. Normally, I don't believe a book summary that declares you should "Be prepared to laugh and cry and ultimately thank God for the men and women willing to sacrifice their lives for the freedoms that so many Americans enjoy." But, you know what? I did just that. I laughed. I cried. And, in the end, I did thank God for the men and women who serve in our military and for allowing me to have been born in America with all of our freedoms. It was, truly, a humbling reminder that "freedom isn't free."'

Characters

Well, I cannot name them all by name because the fact of the matter is that the "characters" in this book are the U.S. Marines. I hold high regard for all branches of the military and those that serve under their banners.
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Format: Hardcover
Semper Cool: One Marine's Fond Memories of Vietnam is the true-life memoir of a Vietnam veteran. Author Barry Fixler enlisted in the United States Marine Corps as a teenager; he experienced terrible violence and hand-to-hand combat at the Siege of Khe Sanh, and gives the reader a boots-on-the-ground view of war. Yet he had positive as well as negative experiences, and ultimately the hardships he endured shaped him into a patriotic American. His story is captivating, inspirational, and unflinching in its chronicle of the good, the bad, and the ugly of war. Through the Barry Fixler Foundation, the author seeks to raise at least one million dollars to benefit physically wounded veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan - one hundred percent of the author's royalties from "Semper Cool" will be donated to this worthy cause.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Not for the faint of heart, Semper Cool: One Marine's Fond Memories of Vietnam is probably the single best book yet to come out of the Vietnam War. Unlike, many others, Semper Cool: One Marine's Fond Memories of Vietnam doesn't address that much maligned war from the perspective of the officers or senior noncommissioned officers who served, mostly in career enhancing support roles, it lets the reader into the mind of the American teenagers who fought that war--the men who served in the trenches doing the killing and dying. With all it's rough language, the type of language someone would expect in the highly intense atmosphere of a combat zone, Semper Cool: One Marine's Fond Memories of Vietnam speaks of what it feels like to live through a year long combat tour, to endure numerous horrific experiences to include the violent loss of close friends with whom you shared your hopes and dreams for the future, then to come home and get on with a successful life and career. Barry Fixler is a good personal friend with whom I shared many of the experiences of which he writes. He does an excellent job of describing what we experienced, but more importantly, what we felt, all those years ago. Read it, you won't be sorry. ~~ Semper Fidelis!!! . . . Larry McCartney; Master Gunnery Sergeant of Marines (Retired): 1967 - 1997
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