Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Book Review: Semper Cool

Yay! Another book review!!! I've read 3 books with this book club, and I have really enjoyed having an excuse to put a concentrated effort into reading! I used to read a lot before I had children, and some how after...reading was one of the things that got pushed to the wayside as I figured out how to be a Mom. You'll be getting two reviews this week ( exciting huh?)! This one will be for this fantastic book:


Here is the teaser:

Semper Cool is the wrenching, sometimes hilarious and always thought-provoking true story of a mischievous teenager who enlists in the U.S. Marine Corps seeking adventure and his father's approval and finds both, plus more danger than he ever could have imagined. With its vivid imagery, Semper Cool thrusts readers into a grunt's-eye view of the blood, guts, tears and laughter of war, as told by a Marine who returned home a man and a patriot. Be prepared to laugh and cry and ultimately thank God for the men and women willing to risk their lives for the freedoms that so many Americans enjoy.

I have to say, I was VERY surprised by this book. Really...the more that I read it, the more that I realized my exposure to the Vietnam War was pretty much limited to the movie "Forest Gump'! Pitiful huh?? I don't even really remember learning about it in school. I mean...I must have, right?? Perhaps I was zoning out during the day they taught it! This book definitely helped put the Vietnam War into a little bit of perspective for me, and has increased my interest to learn more about it.

I say that, because this book is not a history. Obviously, the author lived through it, so he does mention the historical events he was personally involved in. But it's really just a collection of his memories, and his thoughts on them as he looks back at them. And I was honestly enthralled with his tale. He is a very entertaining writer, and was very young in these memories and you can feel the youthfulness in the way that he writes. I really in particular enjoyed his ongoing theme of  "coolness". From the very title, he sets the tone of his experiences in the war being positive, even when he is surrounded by death and carnage. Honestly, Barry Fixler, the author, comes across to me as a very well adjusted person. His book held back very little in the way of explaining events as he saw them, including the gore, but you come away from the book with a feeling that....yeah, war sucks. And it's bloody and brutal, but you can come away from it a whole person, and maintain a normal life after wards. And I think that is a really important message to get out there, particularly at this frame in time where some of the views of the Afghanistan and Iraqi wars are similar in many ways to Vietnam.

A small word of caution for those who are interesting in reading this book.... it is pretty gory at moments. He doesn't hold back on describing some of the scenes from the war around him. Also...he has very foul language through out the entire book.  I have never had to mentally edit the f-bomb out of a book so many times in my life! I think he wrote it in the language that they actually used during his stint with the Marines, but moments it felt a little excessive. That would probably be my only complaint with the book.

MOST IMPORTANTLY however is, that 100% of the royalties from this book go to wounded combat veterans from Afghanistan and Iraq!!  Barry's goal is to reach 1 Million dollars!! You can find out more by visiting the Barry Fixler Foundation at

In my humble opinion, this book deserves:

7 thoughts:

Jenn said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
housewife said...

Lol....I'm willing to bet that using the f bomb was pretty appropriate when you are at risk of dying everyday:) language in books pertaining to war and even movies about war doesn't bother me. It's raw emotion. But then again...I'm a little more 'liberal' in those instances:)

Undaunted ~ My Life One Day at a Time said...

For me the language is a killer. I am glad you enjoyed your book though. I probably won't read it though. I am looking forward to what might be next on the list.

Katrina said...

sounds interesting, but one I probably won't read...I did live through the Vietnam war and your dad went in to the Navy just as it was ending.It is cool that they are donating the royalties tho.

Bri0213 said...

I agree with what you said about him coming home a well adjusted person, and that people tend to judge those that came home and DIDN'T have PTSD as some kind of "monster". I think the guys that came home from Vietnam didn't get the "welcome home" that they deserved.

Poekitten said...

This is on my list of must reads! I'm looking forward to reading especially, especially since I lived in Northern Viet Nam for two years:)

Cat said...

You probably didn't actually learn about Vietnam in school, because if you went to anywhere like I did, they always ran out of time at the end of the year to teach us stuff. That means we never learned anything past WW2...I even had a teacher who thought we could "remember" stuff from that time (which happened before we were born), so I guess we should just know it. Ugh.

Thanks for the review!