Title: Playing Soldier
Author: F. Scott Service
Genre: Memoir, Iraq War History
As an only child isolated within a troubled family, F. Scott Service found solace in fantasy and imagination, until a fateful day led to the discovery of his father's Korean War field jacket hidden in a closet. What began as innocent emulation and approval, eventually spiraled into the calamitous loss of everything he had built as an adult. Faced with a grievous divorce, post-traumatic stress, homelessness, substance abuse, and the failure of everything he had willed himself to believe was truth, one night communing with a loaded pistol became the mechanism for self-clarity. From that darkest time, only elemental deconstruction and reconstruction of identity would allow him to forge a reclamation with his true, original self. Visceral, with breathtaking candor, Playing Soldier powerfully captures the unlearning of expectation, the celebration of individuality, and the nourishing of self-acceptance once buried by cultural stamps of approval and societal convention. Braided with humor, courage, fear, despair, and hope, his unflinching, evocative story of passage into adulthood, the Iraq War, and beyond, speaks to anyone who has confronted adversity from without and grappled for their dreams from within.
This memoir is strikingly profound. If you have any question as to what PTSD is to a vet, this book will explain that to you. Scott's father served and it was almost inevitable he would too. The tried and true - get a nice bonus, education and 'they don't call you up'. If one thing can come from this, it is this...if you join any part of the US Army, expect you are going to be sent overseas into a war zone. You will be, so don't be so naive as to think you won't.
As I read this Playing Soldier, I kept wondering how to define this brilliant work. I call this poetry from the wounded soul of a soldier. This isn't a poetry book, but it is almost poetic how Scott expresses the torments that wrack his very existence.
Reading this work took my mind to the experiences of the US 10th Mtn. Division. Being almost the only mountain division in the US Army, they got to deploy longer and more often than anyone else in the ‘oughts. The feeling Scott had of how he was owned lock, stock, and soul is 100% accurate. The modern war is done so cleanly. 95% or more get to go to the beach while the 5% are facing death 24/7.
The biggest shame is how it seems easy to send young men and women to war but it's very hard to treat them decently when they come home. Playing Soldier is a must-read for every American citizen. If you have served, you need to read this book. If a relative or friend has served, you need to read this book. If you have never served, you need to read this book. The debt America owes to those who went and never came home is as big as the one owed to those who did come home.
A powerful book that may define the experiences of a modern soldier struck with PTSD.
My Rating: 5 stars
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Scott lives in New England with a talented social worker (who also happens to be my EIC) and Jerome... a trouble maker unless he's purring for an evening snack.
Having earned a Bachelor of Science in Professional/Technical Communication and a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing, he has experience with editing, journalism, desktop publishing, videography, and is a full-time author.
His books have won Readers' Favorite Five-Star Awards and have been featured in Publishers Weekly magazine, as well as others. Lines in the Sand: An American Soldier's Personal Journey in Iraq was awarded the Pacific Book Review Star for a memoir of excellent merit and Playing Soldier was a finalist in the 2021 Book Excellence Awards for autobiography.
In his spare time, he enjoys gardening and cooking with an emphasis on ethnic foods including Indian, Thai, Russian, Czechoslovakian, Hungarian, Chinese, Spanish, Middle Eastern (especially Algerian, Iraqi, and Egyptian), Mexican, and Italian.
Being an avid explorer, he has spent time in all but two states in America and is always on the lookout for someplace new (he just never thought it would be Iraq and Kuwait as first international travel destinations). On his list of new places are Pitcairn Island, Easter Island, Stonehenge, Leap Castle in Ireland, the Hobbit village in New Zealand, Hunyad Castle in Romania, and the Mayan ruins in the Yucatan Peninsula.
Other interests include horror literature and memoir, a long-standing fascination with UFO, paranormal, and occult phenomena as well as playing guitar, backpacking, and bike riding.
A few quotes to live by:
"Try not to become a man of success, but rather try to become a man of value."
- Albert Einstein
"The greatness of a man is not in how much wealth he acquires but in his integrity and his ability to affect those around him positively."
- Bob Marley
"In the beginning the Universe was created. This has made a lot of people very angry and been widely regarded as a bad move."
- Douglas Adams
"I tell you, we are here on Earth to fart around, and don't let anybody tell you different."
- Kurt Vonnegut
"Life is what happens when you are busy making other plans."
- John Lennon
"I am a new universe beginning to expand."
- F. Scott Service
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Reviewed by: Mr. N