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Review – “The heart and the fist” Eric Greitens

Greitens has lead an extraordinary life: martial artist in China, mentor to children in war-torn Bosnia, amateur boxer, Rhodes scholar, Oxford Ph.D., Navy SEAL. Unfortunately, in this uneven memoir, the compelling life lessons he has learned from his experiences around the world get lost in the mix of personal and professional anecdotes he sprinkles liberally throughout his descriptions of his youth and early adulthood. Greitens is on surer ground describing his Navy SEAL training, and his descriptions of the mental and physical torture these extraordinary men go through during “Hell Week” is gripping. There are a wealth of stories buried in this wide-ranging picaresque; yet we only get to know Greitens during his more intense experiences: losing budddies in Iraq during the war, witnessing first-hand the effects of sectarian conflict in Bosnia, Cambodia and Rwanda. Ultimately it is the every-day routines Greitens undergoes that are the most compelling: overcoming the boredom of daily training; learning to make do with little or nothing in war-torn environments; mentoring his SEAL team with simple everyday homilies. Gretiens makes a compelling case for compassion and courage: the heart and the fist. In this age of diminished expectations of the United States as a global superpower and the concomitant rise of China, India and others, it is hard to see who else will step up to grab the mantle of the “World’s Policeman” in the way that Greitens convincingly argues the US can.

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