Awesome Sh*t My Drill Sergeant Said by Dan Caddy is a nostalgia book for any who have lived through the rigors of basic training. And yes, there are some who have not made it through for all kinds of reasons, including death. This book will not dwell on those unfortunates. Reading these anecdotes will be amusing for most of us who did survive it. Caddy declares the contents of the novel are “The Wit and Wisdom of America’s Finest.” There are similarities to all forms of “basic training.” Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marines share this fun-filled adventure. I would not be surprised to learn that Coast Guard basic training is similar. There is military jargon, but Caddy explains most of it. Those uninitiated to military slang might wonder what a “profile” is but the context will give a reader the general idea.
OK, TRIGGER WARNING if we must. Note the asterisk in the title. Can you fill in the correct letter to make a naughty word? Of course you can, but you won’t have to fill in any words as you read the text after the cover. Pretty much every way you can express sexual acts using explicit language is exposed. Was there a double meaning there? I didn’t find any racial epithets, but there were a couple of offensive remarks about named individuals that were unsettling. These show up in the “Ten Things” lists. Read the book to find out what I mean. I feel those comparisons to named individuals could have been left out with no damage to what Caddy wanted to express.
An excellent chapter is “A Drill Sergeant As Seen By An Army Mom . . .” I found the perspective one overlooked especially since the subject trainee was a daughter, not a son. This novel has 182 pages but is a very fast read due to its formatting. I will leave that to the reader to discover. It is unique.
The best part of the book surprised me. Pages 168-169 have author acknowledgments. Read past that to page 170, “Resources” where the author mentions his Facebook page and goes on to tell of his work and a foundation that helps veterans reenter society. Caddy mentions that his program has responded to more than five thousand requests for assistance. For me, this made the book worth reading. True, I was also amused by the anecdotes throughout the novel. Caddy writes of Iraq and Afghanistan era veterans; I am a Vietnam era veteran. Not much has changed as far as Drill Sergeants. I rated this novel at four stars. The book gets five stars for humor, subtract one for the unfortunate comparisons to named individuals.
And … a bit of an admin note. Although I like to make daily blog posts, every time I come to the end of a semester I find the annoying accounting part of teaching takes up my time. Attendance figures, assigning weighted grades to different types of homework and classwork, and dealing with student feedback consume time. Some rewards come with time off when I can catch up with promised reviews but my daily schedule at the end of a semester is in tatters. I still read the same amount but can’t seem to find the time to write.
In the words (sanitized) of my drill sergeant, “There has to be a morning after.”