Book Review: The Mission, the Men and Me

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Written by Pete Blaber

The epic theme of good versus evil.

book Book Review:  The Mission, the Men and Me Did you notice the repetitive theme of our movies this past summer?  It seemed good versus evil was everywhere between The Avengers (classic superhero stuff) to Snow White and the Huntsman (modern fairy tale), and even Men in Black (man versus aliens), and those were just the box office biggies!

The theme of good versus evil is one permeating our culture.  We are not just interested in the struggle, but we also tend to feel relieved when good guys win.  Movies where there is tension and conflict, heroes emerge and the good guys prevail tend to help us leave the theater feeling energized, happy and upbeat.  Movies like this bring us hope that good will win out in the end, and helps us further the fantasy that life’s problems can be neatly resolved.

In real life, of course, solutions rarely end up this clean.  There are reluctant heroes, villains who have strengths, and good guys who go bad.  Most of the time, people display a mixture of good and bad behaviors, and it only happens few and far between that conflicts are between true good and true evil.  Unfortunately, in the real world, bad guys sometimes win, despite the best efforts of the good guys.

In designing my blog, it seemed like reviewing books might be of use to my readers.  I love to read, and enjoy a wide variety of reading material, from popular to academic, including magazines, novels, self-help, complex science, and classic literary masterpieces.  I figured I would try to review books my readers might enjoy, or find relevant to ongoing themes and issues in the world.  My first book to review takes the notion of good versus evil in a very real way.  It is the story of an American Delta Force Commander and lessons learned from his part in the search for Osama bin Laden.

I am acutely aware that this is a bit of a controversial choice for my first book review, but it fits my general criteria of: an interesting read, with good lessons to apply to psychology and it fits a theme I am seeing in popular culture.  Please know this is not an opinion either for or against any of the US military actions (or lack of action) in the past decade or so.  Rather, I was interested in reading from a perspective unlike my own, and seeing how lessons can be learned from someone who holds a vastly different life experience.

Commander Blaber takes us through his recollection of events, from an insider’s perspective, and examines the strategies, and perceived successes and failures of a series of missions.  He presents a succinct philosophy as a result of his years in the military, and suggests  a few key elements he believes make for good leadership either in the ground in Afghanistan or to use in your next meeting at work.  He describes a strong desire to do good and to fight evil in the world.  As in any situation outside of the movies, however, good and evil aren’t so well defined and Commander Blaber runs into a combination of positives and negatives both in himself and in others throughout his missions.  He doesn’t end up with a neat resolution to terrorism.  What he does come away with are guiding principles based on flexibility of thought, listening clearly and avoiding ego.  He talks about the importance of communication, and the need to develop situations instead of just jumping ahead.  The book is much more complicated than a Hollywood good versus evil story, with no clear superhero coming out in a fancy outfit to rescue everyone, but certainly just as compelling.

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One Response to “Book Review: The Mission, the Men and Me”

Barb December 11th, 2012 at 3:35 am

It is interesting that even the very small can grasp the “good versus evil” theme even if they do not fully understand intent as an older child. I remember hearing a child of about four say to her sister as they were role playing Power Puff Girls, “We have to save the world.” It was so cute as her articulation was babyish.

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