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Another great book

June 26th, 2006 | by Liberal Jarhead |

Spare Parts: A Marine Reservist’s Journey From Campus to Combat in 38 Days, by Buzz Williams, is a great book for anyone who wants to deepen their understanding of the daily life of Soldiers and Marines in combat. Buzz Williams is an award-winning teacher who served in the first Gulf War as a Marine infantryman in a light armored vehicle (LAV) unit. He describes his odyssey from deciding as a boy that he wanted to emulate his older brother and join the Marines, though boot camp and infantry training, to life in the peacetime Reserves and then being mobilized and going to war. Afterward, he relates how his PTSD affected him, his wife, and their children.
This is a well-balanced story, showing both the positives and negatives; it’s often funny, sometimes sad; and Williams is not afraid to acknowledge his own shortcomings as well as honestly taking credit for his accomplishments. He’s a very effective writer. The book flows easily. And he knows himself and human nature in general pretty well. For me, as a retired Marine, it rang very true in terms of the culture of the Marine infantry, and the impact on the family. It’s not a tragic book - in the end he adjusted pretty well, and I’d call it a happy ending. However, you can see what he went through and how the ending might have been different if he hadn’t been unusually blessed in terms of emotional support from his wife and mother, emotional strength of his own, and more brains than average.
It addresses the current war only in passing, in explaining how the news coverage of the 2003 Iraq invasion triggered a relapse of his PTSD symptoms that finally forced him to seek help (I can relate to that - I didn’t go to the VA for help with my own PTSD until 2003 either), but a lot of what he has to say about his experience in the 1991 war applies to the current fighting or any combat any time, any place.
Again, whether you consider yourself liberal or conservative, whether you oppose or support the current war, I hope you read Spare Parts - you’ll get several hours of memorable reading from it; you’ll get to know some exceptional people, especially Buzz Williams and his wife; and you’ll come away with a better understanding of what our men and women in Iraq right now have been through in their training and some of what they’re going through over there.

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  1. 3 Responses to “Another great book”

  2. By ken grandlund on Jun 26, 2006 | Reply

    Thanks for the tip LJ. I’ll try to pick up a copy of this one.

  3. By mayhem on Oct 26, 2006 | Reply

    I recently read ‘Spare Parts’ and as a Marine who served in Desert Shield/Storm as a reservist, much of what Williams said hit home.  Though his depiction of bootcamp was a bit more savage than I recall, his drill, activation, and war experiences were dead-on.

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