Mar 21, 2011

Review: Semper Cool by Barry Fixler

Misha  /  at  4:56 PM  /  15 comments

Semper Cool Big

Publisher: Exalt Press
Genre : Memoir, Non-Fiction
Source :  Received for review from the publicist
Reviewer:  Misha
Semper Cool is the wrenching, sometimes hilarious and always thought-provoking true story of a mischievous teenager who enlists in the U.S. Marine Corps seeking adventure and his father's approval and finds both, plus more danger than he ever could have imagined. With its vivid imagery, Semper Cool thrusts readers into a grunt's-eye view of the blood, guts, tears and laughter of war, as told by a Marine who returned home a man and a patriot. Be prepared to laugh and cry and ultimately thank God for the men and women willing to risk their lives for the freedoms that so many Americans enjoy.


*Rated 3.5*

The thing with memoirs is that it's all real (Duh!). You can't tell yourself - "This is just fiction, not true. " So everything that happens or is described in a memoir tends to affect you more.

Semper Cool is the story of author, Barry Fixler's experiences during the Vietnam war. The memoir starts right from the time he enlisted to his homecoming after the war. Barry Fixler was just a teenager when he joined, a mere boy and by the end of it, he was a "grown-up", a man who had seen too much. You get to live the Vietnam War through the author's eyes.

Semper Cool is a humourous and heartbreaking account of the war. At the same time, it's so inspiring and forces one to ponder on the value of freedom. By the end of it, I was completely in awe of the author as well as others who are willing to risk their lives and their futures for the sake of their country. The author's passion for his country, his patriotism, almost radiates off the pages of the book.

Despite being a war memoir, Semper Cool is not just a bleak depressing depiction of the Vietnam War. The author portrays both the good and the bad - the horrors he experienced as well as the happy moments alongside his fellow marines. The author's sense of humor will make you laugh. At the same time, it will make your teary-eyed.The numerous photographs add to the vivid image of what it must have been like to be so young and right in the midst of a war. The pictures make the memoir more absorbing and real.

As I finished reading the book, I was even more respectful and admiring of the Vietnam War veterans as well as all those brave soldiers around the world.I have never been a patriot, but reading Semper Cool made me realize that all of us who sit at home safe and secure do not, perhaps,  realize the true value of freedom and how that freedom has been fought for.

I have not read many memoirs. After reading Semper Cool, I plan on reading more of them. I was one of those people who dread non-fiction. But this book reads like a gripping story, albeit a true one. The writing style is simple and straightforward, yet it's enjoyable enough to pique your interest.

Semper Cool is a unique memoir. I applaud the author for writing down his experiences, so that others can appreciate such brave men more.

Inspiring portrayal of one marine's experiences during the Vietnam war

Recommended?Yes, if you are interested in memoirs, especially true war accounts.


Similar Books:
Flags of our Fathers - James Bradley

About the Author :
Barry Fixler

Barry Fixler is a U.S. Marine Corps veteran who served in Vietnam in 1967 and 1968 and fought on Hill 861-A during the legendary Siege of Khe Sanh.
After receiving an honorable discharge from the Marine Corps in 1973, Fixler used the G.I. Bill to finance his undergraduate degree from theGemological Institute of America and joined his father in the jewelry business. Today he lives with his wife Linda in Bardonia, N.Y., where he ownsBarry’s Estate Jewelry.
On Valentine’s Day 2005, Fixler fatally shot one of two gunmen who attempted to rob his jewelry store. The shootout was captured by a surveillance camera and made into a mini-documentary for Most Shocking Videos, and it continues to run on TruTV. A clip of the surveillance video with narration by Barry is also popular on YouTube.
Barry has long been aware of his good fortune and has made a quiet point of sharing it. Barry has aided numerous wounded Marines and soldiers, to whom his loyalties are obvious, but also has helped people who have had no connections to the military.
In 2009, in recognition of his good citizenship and humanitarian efforts, Rockland County legislators officially proclaimed November 8, 2009 as Barry Fixler Day. Barry also was named 2009 Veteran of the Year by the Rockland County Veterans Coordinating Council.
Barry is donating all of his proceeds from Semper Cool to physically wounded combat veterans and the families of our fallen troops.
To find out more about Barry, please visit his blog here.

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Posted in: , , Posted on: Mar 21, 2011


GMR said...

Nice job on the review! Ah yes...the memoir. I too was reluctant to read them at first but about a year or two ago I picked one up that sparked my interest and from there on out, it's been an interesting trip. The trick is finding ones that speak to you in some way, not just one you pick up arbitrarily. This one...not so much for me, but I definitely have a friend that would love it. *jots reminder to tell them* Thanks for sharing...and happy reading! ^_^

Thanks for this indepth review. Not a big fan of memoirs to begin with, I don't think I have ever read a war based one - don't know if now is a good time to begin, I'll certainly keep this in mind.

TheBookGirl said...

Nice to see a memoir with a positive tone...this was such a divisive time in our country's history, and the Vietnam vets certainly did not get the respect they deserved. Hope the author is successful with this one.

Jenny said...

I'm not a big memoir person, but I love that even though this one focuses on war, he also has a sense of humor and shares little things about his fellow marines in addition to all the atrocities of the war itself. It's nice to have photographs to accompany the story as well, especially since you know everything being described really happened:)

bermudaonion said...

I love memoirs, so I'd probably like this one even more than you did.

This sounds very interesting, thanks for bringing it to my attention. Great review!!

StephanieD said...

Wow, just reading his short bio the author appears to have a very eventful life touched by violence. I'm sure his memoir must be a riveting read.

Missie said...

Memoirs are real? Damn you James Frey *shakes angry fist*

Okay, bad joke.

I guess because my life is so quite and boring, when I read about people who actually live through things you'd rather not think about, it always amazes me. It's good to hear that the author was about to include some humor and keep a positive perspective despite what he endured.

I'm still one of those people who dread non-fiction, but I picked up a book with excerpts and it was pretty fun.

Blodeuedd said...

Memoirs..not so much, some work for me though. War, I want earlier wars, so not the book for me this time

Aths said...

I'm on the fence I guess. I enjoy memoirs, but the subject matter also plays an important role. I usually like war memoirs, but I think I'm through with the Nam war for the moment. Great review however! This is probably not a book I would pick at a glance, but your review has me really interested!

I'm in the midst of reading this one myself. Being only one generation removed from those that fought in Vietnam, I have seen it's effects, many of them bad, on those that were there. I'm enjoying reading about someone who wasn't affected in a bad way by the war. (does that make sense?) - to clarify, many of the people I personally know have emotional, physical and/or mental problems that likely stem from their involvement; reading about someone who has lived a "normal" life afterward is refreshing.

Oh this sounds like a very emotional read. Through laughter comes the tears. I think I'll have to wait until I'm in a mood for this one. Does sound good!

Good point about memoirs!
Brandi from Blkosiner’s Book Blog

Sounds like a powerful read. Not that biggest fan of non-fiction but this sounds good since it reads like a fiction. Great review Misha :)

Anna said...

I've heard nothing but good things about this book and have borrowed a friend's copy. Having read so many memoirs of traumatized Vietnam vets, it will be interesting to read about Fixler's good memories of the war. I hope it's okay to link to your review on War Through the Generations.

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