Half a Man
written by Bill Glose
published by FutureCycle Press
Why did I pick this book: I read on social media that Bill Glose wrote a book. He and I attended the same high school so I felt compelled to order it and read it right away.
Did I enjoy this book: Absolutely. It was even better than I expected.
One of my favorite memories from the time I lived in Texas was called “A Hero’s Welcome” at the Dallas/Fort Worth airport. Any soldier returning from the battlefield who touched down in the U.S. for the first time at DFW was greeted by raucous cheers, waves of American flags, girl-scout cookies, and shouts of “thank you!!”
I always felt proud of how we welcomed our soldiers: any day of the week, any time of the day or night. It never mattered. We loved our soldiers. We had a welcome committee ready.
Imagine my dismay when I read Glose’s poem, Ambush where he describes soldiers who “offload the airliner, unarmed, unprepared for the ambush” of returning to the adoring crowds who greeted then upon their arrival home from war.
We really don’t get it. We, non-combat veterans, we, do-gooders, we, flag wavers; we try our best to support, understand, and appreciate our military’s sacrifice. But if there’s anything this book really drove home for me is that we really don’t understand – can’t understand our friends and loved ones after returning from combat.
I salute Glose for attempting at address the emotions, conflicts, and hardships that shadow our returning vets for years after the official tour is over. The unwritten rule among returning soldiers, including ones in my own family, is always loud and clear: Don’t. Talk. About. It. Mr. Glose breaks this rule with poetic rawness and painful honesty.
Would I recommend it: Yes, especially if any one you love is or has ever been involved in the U.S. Military.
Will I read it again: I expect to read it many times. I’m pretty sure I only caught a fraction of the artistic nuance with the first read.
About the book – from Goodreads: Bill Glose’s Half a Man lays bare the impact of war on the individual soldier. The book’s first half, about war and life in the military, tells of the sometimes harrowing, sometimes maddening, but always emotional experiences of soldiers in today’s Army. The second half is about the baggage a soldier brings home with him and the opposing feelings that threaten to tear him apart: the guilt, the pride, the joy, the anger. Evocative, imagistic, and mesmerizing, replete with telling details and enriched by occasional humor, this collection of war poetry is a brilliant portrayal of what all those touched by war must cope with on both the battlefield and homefront.