A Dusty Boot Soldier Remembers
Twenty-Four Years of Improbable but True Tales of Service with Uncle Sam’s Army
Larry A. Redmond
Hellgate Press, Ashland, Oregon, 2015, 574 pages
Book Review published on: April 28, 2017
When you pick up a memoir to read you are never quite sure what you are getting into. Many times, authors have hidden and not-so-hidden agendas spurring the crafting of their memoirs. Often, these volumes are challenging to read because of their negativity toward others or aggrandized self-praise. A recent memoir void of either characteristic is Larry Redmond’s exceptional volume, A Dusty Boot Soldier Remembers. It is a book that is extraordinarily readable, extremely engaging, and for many, will bring back memories of their own times as a “dusty boot soldier.”
Within his memoirs, Redmond focuses on an Army career that spanned from 1962 to 1987. During that period, he served as an officer with such esteemed units as the 82nd Airborne Division, the 101st Airborne Division, 8th Special Forces Group, and the XVIII Airborne Corps. Along the way, he had assignments in England, Israel, Panama, Thailand, and two combat tours with the 101st in Vietnam. Certainly, with a career highlighted by the above, Redmond had many incredible experiences. These experiences are superbly articulated within the pages of his memoir.
There are three key attributes which combine to make this such a high quality memoir. First, Redmond has much to work with. His many unique experiences run the gamut from fighting in the jungles of Vietnam to patrolling as part of the United Nations Truce Supervisory Organization–Palestine to time spent as a student at the Royal College of Defence Studies in London. Redmond’s diverse experiences are sure to interest and engage a varied readership.
Second, the author has effectively organized the book for his readers. He has broken the volume into almost seventy small chapters. Each chapter is essentially tied to a specific event or period in Redmond’s career. They are chronologically arranged, and the chapters blend well with each other. I believe these small chapters are far more user friendly than if he would have utilized longer chapters incorporating several events or extended periods of time.
Finally, this a volume that is one of the most readable memoirs I have read in a long time. Redmond writes in a highly conversant style. It is style that fits perfectly for the type of book the author wanted to craft. It enables him to be highly personal with his readers, be opinionated at times, and provides the correct environment for him to tell some outstanding war stories. The above combination will clearly entice readers to turn pages and not want to put the book down.
For those thinking this is simply a collection of war stories you would be mistaken. Throughout the memoir, Redmond has intertwined what he labels “Redmond’s Rules.” These are lessons learned he gleaned from his particular experiences in the Army. Some were penned by others and will be distinctly remembered, and in some cases, learned the hard way by readers. Others are pure Redmond and certainly have merit and utility.
I would be remiss if I did not share why Redmond finally decided to publish his memoirs. For many years, Redmond’s children expressed disappointment that the World War II and Korean War experiences of their grandfather were never documented. They asked their father to record his career so they would not be disappointed again in later years. Redmond listened to his children and the result was A Dusty Boot Soldier Remembers.
In conclusion, this could become one of books that is undiscovered by most prospective readers. That would be unfortunate because this is a volume that demands significant readership. Those readers will discover a book that is engaging and entertaining. More importantly, they will find a volume that provides an excellent reflection of an Army that existed several decades ago. In comparison to other memoirs, it doesn’t get much better than Larry Redmond’s A Dusty Boot Soldier Remembers.
Book Review written by: Frederick A. Baillergeon, Fort Leavenworth, Kansas