About Face: The Odyssey of an American Warrior

About Face: The Odyssey of an American Warrior

by David H. Hackworth, Julie Sherman


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Called “everything a twentieth century war memoir could possibly be” by The New York Times, this national bestseller by Colonel David H. Hackworth presents a vivid and powerful portrait of a life of patriotism.

From age fifteen to forty David Hackworth devoted himself to the US Army and fast became a living legend. In 1971, however, he appeared on television to decry the doomed war effort in Vietnam. With About Face, he has written what many Vietnam veterans have called the most important book of their generation.

From Korea to Berlin, from the Cuban missile crisis to Vietnam, Hackworth’s story is that of an exemplary patriot, played out against the backdrop of the changing fortunes of America and the American military. It is also a stunning indictment of the Pentagon’s fundamental misunderstanding of the Vietnam conflict and of the bureaucracy of self-interest that fueled the war.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780671695347
Publisher: Touchstone
Publication date: 04/28/1990
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 896
Sales rank: 47,924
Product dimensions: 6.12(w) x 9.25(h) x 1.70(d)

About the Author

David H. Hackworth (Col., U.S. Army, Ret.) spent almost five years of combat duty in Vietnam, as well as twenty-five years in the service of our nation's defense. His previous two nonfiction books, About Face (available from Touchstone) and Hazardous Duty, and his novel, The Price of Honor,The Price of Honor, were national bestsellers. Eilhys England produces feature films and writes with her partner and husband, David Hackworth. They live in Connecticut and Australia.

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About Face: The Odyssey of an American Warrior 4.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 12 reviews.
MatthewN on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A truly wonderful read! This guy was the soldier's soldier. I can't recall a time in the book in which I got bored or wondered when this particular section would be over. I wish I could say the same for other biographies. As a former enlisted member of the military, I can say that I wished many times that we had officers of his caliber and perspective. He served in the days when the politics were confined to the upper echelons of the officer ranks for the most part. The military today is full of "empire builders" that Hack would have gladly disposed of had they served under him. You might not agree with all he said or did post-Vietnam, but this man was a true patriot. I know specifically that Night Stalker Mike Durant of Somalia fame( see his book "In the Company of Heroes") was not too thrilled with Hack over some comments he made in regards to the video he made while being held hostage by the Somali's. I tend to agree with Durant's analysis as he did nothing akin to what Hanoi Jane did. Other than that, I was glad that Hack got a decent amount of air time as a commentator on the most recent conflicts. I think his perspective is one worth listening to. I recommend this book to ALL military members, current and former. Additionally, if you have a passing interest in military history or just want to read about an amazing life, pick this book up. You won't be sorry.
improbus on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is, by far, the absolute best military autobiography I've read. Hackworth should be required reading for every enlisted soldier and officer. There are real life lessons to be learned in this book. NCOs would be wise to heed them.
Hiromatsuo on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A serious autobiography and war(s) memoir. About Face is the defining book on Colonel David Hackworth. Coming in at just under 1000 pages, this tome surprisingly reads fast. I read "after" having read Steel My Soldiers' Hearts, and I can definitely say that it gives a much broader and more complete picture of this controversial man.Hackworth makes it clear that he joined the military for the adventure. Joining the Army at 15 just as WWII concluded, Hack served in Italy in an occupation capacity, but with the TRUST troops, whose exacting standards would cement his views on soldiering for the rest of his life. Jump forward to the 1950s, see Hack serving in Korea. During this time, he begins to see develop his views on leadership and battlefield combat. Furthermore, he receives a battlefield commission during the war there as well. At many times, Hack viewed the Korean War in the same way he viewed the Vietnam War. As a war directed by the staff weenies who still dream of fighting WWII style battles in unsuitable terrain and against an enemy that doesn't play by their rules.After Korea, Hack obviously had serious trouble transitioning into the peacetime military. Assigned to staff jobs and other positions he didn't want, Hack certainly was not a "by-the-book" kind of officer. As the Cold War started and the Army placed more emphasis on nuclear weapons, Hack saw the infantry constantly being given the short straw. By the time of Vietnam, Hack would serve with the famous 101st Airborne, do a tour with Army historian SLA Marshall, command the 4th infantry battalion, and finally serve as an advisor the ARVN troops. As time went on, Hackworth slowly became more and more fed-up with the ticket-punchers and empire builders that he constantly saw running the military (and by extent, the Vietnam War). It all culminated in a national interview where he basically blew the whistle on Vietnam and the inadequate state of things in the Army at the time. Subsequently he was ostracized, hunted, and drummed out of the Army (graciously allowed to retire).I can definitely sympathize with Hackworth's frustrations regarding bureaucracy. To a by-the-book man, Hackworth is a nightmare. Seemingly insubordinate, rebellious, and selfish, Hackworth marches to his own beat. However, what Hackworth definitely was, was a warrior. Plain and simple. Plus, he unmistakably cared for the welfare of the men under him. In many ways, Hackworth only wanted to be the best at what he did, he just wanted the freedom to do it his own way. As I mentioned before in my review of "Steel", Hackworth is a man who pulls no punches when it comes to what he thinks. The only times I didn't enjoy what Hackworth had to say, was when he continually described his "scrounging efforts", done in order to get what he wanted. Stealing, bribing, "borrowing", and general subterfuge where not below this man. Other than his massive ego, that's the main trait of Hackworth that I don't agree with. Then again, the years that Hackworth spent in the peacetime Army training for useless missions and wars that would never come; along with the mountains of paperwork and the general tedium of the life at that time; one can definitely understand that.Overall, my opinion of Hackworth hasn't changed drastically from reading About Face. He's still egotistical, he's still lacking in certain moral areas, but what Hackworth really was was a pure, dyed-in-the-wool soldier. A brave and decorated man who lived an incredible, if not crazy life.
SSG_L More than 1 year ago
As an Infantry NCO (currently serving) It's so refreshing to know that there are real people in the commissioned officer ranks. I've met and served with a few myself, but Hack definitely personifies the ultimate officer & warrior. When doing anything in the Army with my soldiers, superiors, I always am thinking in the back of my head WWHD? (what would Hack do?). This book is a great life story of one of my inspirations and Hack is truly a man I look up to and aspire to be like and hope that he would look down on me and be proud. I read "Steel my soldiers hearts" first, but wish I had read this first, so if you're looking to read any of Col Hackworth's books, or any military book period, I recommend this highly and also that you read it first. Again, God bless you Hack and RIP!
Guest More than 1 year ago
In a world of poseurs,Colonel Hackworth was a Real American Hero who devoted his life to this great country, and his ' Beloved Army '. His was an extraordinary journey in which his politics went from, ' ...being to the right of John Birch... ' as a young man, to striving for peace in the midst of the cold war. In between is the story of a warrior's warrior who Put His Men First. I completed AF at the same time as hearing of the Colonel's passing from cancer, which tragically, may have been brought on by exposure to chemicals used by the US in Vietnam. I was saddened the we had lost such a Great American. But I was angry, not only that all flags did NOT fly at half staff in the Colonel's honor, but also that there could be any further delay in his being awarded the Medal of Honor, despite his TWO nominations. If we want to do our part to make this country a better place, we should all do our best to be a more like ' Hack '. Rest In Peace, Soldier.
Guest More than 1 year ago
At this late date, I finally happened to read this wonderful account. Seeing news today of the problems in Iraq, one wonders if anything has changed in the deplorable state of the US Army described by Hackworth. But most of all, I was sickened with grief for all those who lost sons, husbands and fathers in Vietnam (or Korea for that matter). Lives literally, and worse, knowlingly wasted by those we were supposed to trust.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I read 'About Face' during my first tour of duty along the Korean DMZ 88-89. I was fortunate to visit several battle sites discussed in 'About Face' between patrols along the North Korean border. Hackworth's command focus and 'attention to detail' was a wake up call for this soldier. Hackworth tells it how it is Duty, Honor and Country. A must read for any grunt stationed along the Korean DMZ.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is a BIG book, with a daunting number of pages, but worth reading every one. At one level it is a moving testimony to the courage, determination, and resourcefulness achievable by men in battle -- as well as to the importance of rigorous and appropriate training. At another level it is a first-rate text on what constitutes leadership, especially in adverse conditions. Finally, it is a damning expose of the cost in morale, in materiel, and ultimately in lives and in the failure to achieve national goals that results from fostering self-serving careerists in the military at the expense of leaders of men. The later parts of the book are also invaluable to put the lie to the claim, increasingly heard in some quarters, that we somehow won militarily in Vietnam. We cut our own throats in that war, both politically AND militarily, and Hack makes it plain not only THAT we did but HOW we did. Sometimes Hack seems like one of a kind. Thank God he is not.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Having served in the Army, I could identify with Hack's accounts of inefficiency and waste within the system. But I also identified with the leadership that he and many of my officers displayed. His is a fascinating look at ordinary men placed in extraordinary circumstances. His work has inspired me to track down other authors he cited, such as Bernard Fall's writings on the French experience in Indo-China. Good luck to you, Hack, wherever you may be...
Guest More than 1 year ago
As a former Army officer, I can tell you that Hackworth's effort to paint the inner colors of the Army's leadership is a noble one. Far from being a mere 'disgruntled worker,' Hack tells it like it is. I find it amazing that his experiences are so similiar to those in today's ranks. This book, in a very strange way, forshadows the present dire situation of retention rates in today's Army - both officer and enlisted. Wars change but people stay the same. Aside from Hack profiling the ineptness of the ARmy's leadership (there are examples of great leadership too), this book is a great historical one told from the ground up.
Guest More than 1 year ago
this is a must read for anyone who has served in the military or anyone interested in the vietnam war
Guest More than 1 year ago
For the Vietnam history buff, this is a must. Col Hackworth tells it like it was with a compelling frankness America still needs. I think Col Hackworth now recognises that the 'Issues and Answers' interview was not the best way to affect change in the Army. But it was certainly consistent with his warrior style. I am looking forward to reading his study of Bosnia and Somalia, did we learn anything from Vietnam?