Written Book Review Grade Sheet NAME: Aipa, Lokelani GRADE: BOC

BOOK / AUTHOR: American Soldiers by Peter Kindsvatter Content (70%). 1. Publication date, author, name of book and publisher. 2. Author’s purpose. 3. Author’s credentials. 4. Author’s information sources and documentation. 5. Thesis, controlling idea/main point. 6. Organization and coherence. 7. Intended audience. 8. Completeness, objectivity, bias. 9. Style and readability. 10. Overall evaluation. Points Comments /7 /7 /7 /7 /7 /7 /7 /7 /7 /7 Sub-total: ____/70 Writing Effectiveness (30%). 1. Organization. 2. Style. 3. Correctness (spelling, grammar, etc.). Points /10 /10 /10 Sub-total: ____/30 Total: /100 = GO Comments


25 December 2008

MEMORANDUM FOR First Platoon, Platoon Trainer, ATTN: CPT Flores, Delta Company, 3rd Battalion, 11th Infantry Regiment, Fort Benning, Georgia 31905 SUBJECT: Book Review of American Soldiers 1. Reference. American Soldiers: Ground Combat in the World Wars, Korea and Vietnam. Peter S. Kindsvatter. Lawrence, Kansas. University of Kansas Press, 2003. Bookspan Book Club Edition, 432 pp. Recommendation. I recommend this book for officer professional development purposes. Dr. Kindsvatter's interpretations of the anecdotal data provided by his sources are insightful, his main point is moot; we have signed our contracts, and regardless of how gloriously we envisioned our “war-in-the-head” or not, we are duty-bound to fulfill our obligations to the US Army. American Soldiers would also be an appropriate selection for someone who is researching a career in the military, but has not yet joined; the honest recounts would definitely turn off less determined men and women and save the Army from having to deal with unenthusiastic recruits. This book is especially relevant to officer development because it does give the reader a chance to gain empathy and a deeper understanding of the frame of mind that eventually we will all, officers and subordinates alike, experience during deployment. Analysis of the author.



a. Author’s Purpose and viewpoint. Dr. Kindsvatter wrote this book in hopes of educating potential Soldiers on what really happens to a person, socially, mentally and physically, when they are sent into combat. By providing numerous accounts of individual Soldiers' experiences in the major conflicts of the 20th century, he aims to cut through the haze of patriotic mythology that surrounds war in popular culture to expose the reality of the trenches. Surprisingly, the author's viewpoint comes across as neutral, neither pro-war nor anti-military. He simply expounds the need for balanced information to disabuse tomorrow's Soldiers of any lopsided, romantic notions that would necessitate a rude awakening upon arrival in-theater. b. Credentials. Dr. Kindsvatter served in the U.S. Army for twenty-one years and retired as a Lieutenant Colonel (Armor). He received his PhD from Temple University. Currently, he is the Command Historian at the U.S. Army Ordnance Center and Schools at Aberdeen Proving Ground. American Soldiers is Kindsvatter's only published mainstream work, but he has written for professional journals such as the Military Review and The Journal of American History; he also has lectured in conjunction with the U.S. Army Heritage and Education Center. Indicate the point of view or perspective that the writer took on the subject. c. Sources. Dr. Kindsvatter uses histories (oral and written), letters, memoirs, psychological and sociological studies, and even works of fiction to show that Soldiers' experiences remain fundamentally the same across the spectra of time, adversaries, environment and technology. There are of course limitations inherent in the reliance on anecdotal evidence, especially afterthe-fact recollections which are noted months or years later. However, the focus of this book is the individual psyche, so even if there are distortions of the actual facts, it then becomes not

inaccuracy, but another layer of exposition into the mind of the combatant. He does present official government studies, so as not to totally skew the perspective to the microcosm of the individual. 4. Analysis of the content. a. Thesis. Simply what is combat like? Without any glossing over or propaganda. How soldiers persevere -- volunteers vs draftees, he believes the difference in enthusiasm makes it easier for volunteers to drive on. Why some thrive in combat and others collapse -b. Synopsis (organization and coherence). Write a one-paragraph summary of what happens in the book to develop or support the thesis. Keep it to 200 words or less. Go by chapters “thematic areas”. He uses quoted material from many of the same Marines and Soldiers throughout the book, but it was difficult to get a complete picture of any one person due to the “peppering” effect of the disjointed quotes. c. Key Passages. Identify the key characters, chapters, and/or any key passages in the text and state why and how they are important in supporting the author’s thesis. What happens when you fail at combat balances out the pages given to those who succeed because after all, not everyone was meant to be a Soldier. 5. Analysis of the quality of the book. a. Applicability. Potential and novice Soldiers. By extension leaders as well need to Know your soldiers. Not just his book in isolation but also to promote a more holistic approach to practical military education by utilizing sources like fiction and memoirs. Analyze how well the author met their needs. State how or if the text applies to officers/leaders in the U.S. Army today. Doesn't include warfare experiences from Desert Storm to the present. How has the efforts of today's Army (CALL, increased PTSD awareness/prevention measures) improved the resiliency of the Soldier's mind, if at all? But how men's minds never really change in fight-orflight biological hardwiring, self-preservation instincts. b. Completeness and objectivity. The weight of his hundred or so writers presents a far more complex and contradictory portrait. State the degree to which the author treated his topic completely and objectively Discuss the quality of the author’s analysis and conclusions. Discuss any bias or flaws you detect (if none, so state). c. Style. Judge the author’s writing style – clarity, conciseness, coherence, precision of language, logic, tone, readability, etc. The largest number of annotations and the longest bibliography I have ever seen for a book of barely 300 pages. 127 pages of references all told. 6. Lessons Learned. Discuss the major lessons that you learned from reading the book. The frailty of the human mind and the indomitability of the human spirit are universal constants, across time and culture. The analyses presented in this book explain how these seemingly contradictory forces generally balance each other out in times of extreme mental and physical

stress, thus allowing a Soldier to survive with his sanity intact. A valuable lesson is that there is no macho, invincible stereotype that the military should have to manufacture in order to produce outstanding Soldiers and leaders. 7. Conclusion. Reinforce your overall evaluation and recommendation (final thought). 8. The point of contact for this memorandum is the undersigned at 805-748-8796.

(Your Signature Here) AIPA, LOKELANI BOC OCS Class #002-09

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