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Audiobook Review – About Face: The Odyssey of an American Warrior

I discovered About Face: The Odyssey of an American Warrior as a private in 1990. I saw Colonel Hackworth do an interview to support the book, and I was fascinated by his quiet demeanor as he talked about a lifetime of service and combat. When I saw the book on display at the PX, I scooped it up and devoured it. It’s been on my “Read This Often” reading list ever since.

About Face is a memoir, but it’s one that’s been tempered with the viewpoints of many of the people it talks about. Colonel Hackworth and Julie Sherman did a good job of coordinating his recollections with those of his friends and comrades from 3 decades of Army life.

The book is made up of in-depth discussions of Hackworth’s views on politics, the military, and leadership, all punctuated by mesmerizing tales of combat and the men he served with.

The final chapter, in which Hackworth talked about his views of the United States and her military circa 1988, is, to me, the most interesting of all. When the authors wrote those words, we were on the brink of the Berlin Wall falling, but were still poised for World War III starting somewhere in the Fulda Gap. The First Gulf War, Somalia, the Balkan War, 9/11, and the War on Terror were still in the future. Hackworth’s insights are a remarkable look back at where we were. They lead me to look at where we’ve come and how the Reagan military he discusses was and was not prepared for the world we fell into in the years after his writing.

The narration by John Pruden is spot on. The book is liberally salted with military jargon, and it was very rare that it wasn’t used or pronounced correctly. Pruden paced the story, over 40 hours long, very well. You could hear the emotion come through where it was appropriate, and his characterizations during the combat sequences painted a vivid picture.

If you already know Hackworth and Sherman, you’ll enjoy this opportunity to experience this seminal work again. If you haven’t read About Face or any of Colonel Hackworth and Ms. Sherman’s other works and you enjoy good living history, you’re in for a treat.

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3 Comments

  1. mrgarabaldi

     /  July 18, 2019

    Hey DB;

    I remembered reading that book and buying it at the PX. I enjoyed his stories and I was corroborating it it with another book about General Singlaub, he got sacked by Carter in 1977, because he discussed the “hollow Army”. Colonel Hackworth also made some unflattering references to Westmorland and he always had that spoon in his uniform shirt pocket.

    • Yep. He does actually have a bit of good to say about Westmoreland. If half of what Hackworth had to say about of himself is tall tales, the man was still as hard as chicken lips.

  2. OldNFO

     /  July 19, 2019

    Yep, good read, and I need to get another copy and reread it again! Thanks for the reminder.

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