4 out of 4 stars
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Tip of the Spear by Ryan Hendrickson is the author's story about his journey as an improvised explosive device (IED) expert with the U.S. Army Special Forces (Green Berets). The title of the book seems to originate from the position of the writer as an IED expert relative to other members of the team that went on missions, which is upfront, “at the tip of the spear.” As an IED expert, Hendrickson advances first to sweep the area clean of explosives before anyone else enters.
In this book, the author tells us how he was raised not to use any unfortunate circumstance as an excuse not to push beyond the limits. He also talks about how he decided on joining the Green Berets as well as the 84-week intense training he had to undergo in his path to becoming a Green Beret. We then see how he got injured when he stepped on an IED in Afghanistan in 2010 and returned to action against all odds. We then read through the several training camps he attended in several countries, including El Salvador, Columbia, and Peru. Additionally, the author narrates his numerous adventures during his time in those countries. Furthermore, we get to see the heroic role the author played during his stint in Afghanistan in 2016.
Having listened to the audio version of this book, I gladly award Tip of the Spear 4 out of 4 stars. I have nothing to criticize about the read. Moreover, I encountered a lot of positive points while I read. First, I loved the way the author started the story by taking us straight to the battleground where he got injured. Because of this, I was even more curious about how the author managed to overcome the injury and get back to the front. Another thing I enjoyed was the way the author described events and his surroundings, employing the first-person narrative style. It often felt like I was there in person, and I could almost smell the Afghanistan air and feel the hot temperature.
Besides, I enjoyed the way the author used sounds to describe certain occurrences like the shootings and bombings that took place during his missions. The narrator also does a great job of delivering these sounds in a way that makes the reader appreciate the actual sounds of detonated IEDs or bullets. Also, I think there are important lessons that readers could take from this book. One lesson I learned from the author’s life is that we should drop all the excuses we have that prevent us from pushing beyond our limits. The story of the two old men that the author’s father told him is one story that should stick with every reader.
It is known that our heroes come back with lots of demons from their exposures to battle. These demons often affect them negatively, especially when they come back to civilization. I was happy that the author included some of the struggles he faced during his time in Afghanistan and when he came back home, which made me more receptive to the author's story in terms of its credibility. I also learned some interesting facts while I read through the author’s adventures during his 4-month training in Peru. For example, I learned that a milky drink called Masato is made by chewing and spitting a particular type of root into a jar for fermentation. I don’t think I’d ever try that drink!
I didn’t notice any errors in grammar throughout the book, so I can say that it is exceptionally edited. Although the book is littered with profanities, I didn’t find them out of place since soldiers use them frequently in real life, especially on the battlefield. At times, the use of profanities seems like an important skill for the job, so they made me have an accurate feel of their conversations. However, people that are affected by profanities may want to steer clear of this book. I recommend this book to people that are interested in real-life war stories.
Tip of the Spear
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