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Camera Boy: An Army Journalist's War in Iraq Kindle Edition
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
I re-connected with him, via the internet about a year ago, so when he returned to campus for a book signing in October `09, I got in line to get a copy.
I read it in two sittings and what struck me most was his complete honesty in describing his experiences in a war zone ... from being under fire by insurgents to the inane measures he and his comrades resorted to in an attempt to relieve the stress and strain of being under constant danger in a combat zone.
Even more remarkable was his candor in describing the effects of post-traumatic stress syndrome once he returned from the war: how it affected him, his family and his friendships. I cannot applaud enough his courage in describing the horrible consequences of PTSD, as well as his courage in getting help. I believe Veterans as well as their friends and families would benefit greatly just by reading this section of the book! As a mental health consumer, activist and advocate for many years I know the anguish and sheer guts it took for Fred to write so candidly about these experiences.
I am proud to call Fred Minnick a friend and colleague, but I am prouder still of his service for our country and his ability to share the good, bad and ugly of his experiences during that service.
Fresh out of university, Minnick went to Iraq as a young sergeant working as a photographer with a National Guard public affairs unit. With clarity and feeling, he describes his maturing into a greater leadership position, working in a unit with a majority of females, coping with despair over the murder of an Iraqi friend, quelling his own desires to kill, rushing into firefights with a camera rather than his rifle pointed at the enemy, and confronting posttraumatic stress disorder after returning home. Yet "Camera Boy" does not mire into self-pity or the macabre as some war memoirs do.
Minnick doesn't paint himself a hero, yet reports on the heroic actions of others. With a reporter's prose, he describes working with civilian journalists assigned to cover the war, the attacks on insurgents shooting from mosques, the impact on insurgent death threats on Iraqi civilians who worked for the Americans, the suicide bomber at Marez who infiltrated a U.S. military mess hall, killing 22 and wounded more than 70 others.
He works at being leader, but admits to his failings. His examples provide good lessons in leadership for young NCOs and officers.
Anyone wanting a good understanding of what our soldiers' experiences in Iraq, particularly in the earlier years of the war, should read "Camera Boy." A strong sense of patriotism comes through in the book without flag waving and self-aggrandizing.
After reading it, I admit I would not have liked Fred if I had known him then. He writes honestly about his unflattering behavior. It's rare that writers will leap out there with such honesty. But there is also a soft side and an incredibly vulnerable Fred in the book. It's a portrait of a real person, not an idealized soldier.
Here's an irony that I don't know if Fred sees. He's a PR guy who's job is to be a storyteller. He could have easily exploited this in his memoir by telling a sugar-coated story or criticizing the Army. He doesn't though. Instead, he writes a painfully real story, his story, just the way it is for him.
Especially recommended for folks who are interested in or studying the memoir genre.
Within the pages of Camera Boy, one gets to know Fred in a very real way -- he is a gentleman who is not afraid to look at himself through a very focused emotional lens. This makes his related experiences mean that much more as they are consumed by the reader. And his ability to tell a story and to set a scene ensures that the vehicle is always running smoothly. That's what makes this book a quick read; it's quite difficult to put down, as the cliche goes.
Fred doesn't need me to sell books for him. He'll sell enough on his own. But his honesty in the pages of Camera Boy inspired me to share my honest opinion.
By the way, just so you know -- Fred loves tacos.
I think he had problems working with his officers and other ncos,but I think he just not wanted to piss them off. So he leaves alot of those lines open ended. He stated he hated being stuck in the office,because he was former Infantry,he wanted to be out patroling with his brothers. Oh but he always had to get back to his rear area perks.
I am also a army NCO who has been active & national guard, & Minnick's treatment of his troops & his conduct in NCO alley are VERY POOR examples of how to lead troops. His style is "Do as I say,not as I do".
This whole book really just left me thinking that he could just done a magazine article or online blog. This story really was not made for book form.
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