Thursday, December 23, 2010

Review: Semper Cool by Barry Fixler

We either became men or we became statistics at the Siege of Khe Sanh. Those who became statistics were the real men. They were the heroes. Khe Sanh may not have altered the outcome of the war, but it added to the mystique of the Marine Corps because despite overwhelming odds, we refused to lose. [excerpt from Semper Cool]

Semper Cool: One Marine's Fond Memories of Vietnam by Barry Fixler
Exalt Press, 2010
Nonfiction; 320 pgs

Despite my being born after my father's service in Vietnam, the Vietnam War was still a part of my life. It was a part of who my dad was and, to a degree, shaped the way he viewed the world. Like Barry Fixler, my father enlisted in the Marine Corps straight out of high school. The two men went on to serve in Vietnam. From there, their experiences diverge, but I imagine there are some similarities. I read Fixler's memoir thinking of my dad and what his life might have been like during that time in his life. I have always been proud of my father's service, of his being a Marine, and after reading Semper Cool, I couldn't help but feel even more proud.

The author has a great sense of humor, even about himself, which is one of the things I most liked about the book. His pride in his country and as a Marine is clear throughout the book. The book is written in a simple and rather plain manner, but that isn't necessarily bad. As a reader, I got a real feel for who Barry Fixler was and what he was going through. He didn't coat the truth with sugar or try to paint himself a hero--although he certainly is that in his own right.

Semper Cool is not just about the author's experiences during the war, but also his story about how he became a Marine and how it shaped his life. He also writes about being a victim of an attempted burglary, and how he turned the tables on the thieves. The author's inspiration for writing the book, however, was to raise money for American Iraqi and Afghani war veterans with medical needs, as well as for their families--all his profits on the book go to the cause. All too often they fall through the cracks and receive little to no aid from the government and country they serve. Fixler's fundraiser at his jewelry store to help the family of one such soldier was a huge success, Americans coming from all over to donate money and volunteer their services. Stories like that always warm my heart. People do care.

You can learn more about Barry Fixler and his book on the author's website.

Challenge Commitment Fulfilled: War Through the Generations: Vietnam War Challenge

Source: Many thanks to Serena of Savvy Verse & Wit and the author's publicist for the opportunity to review a copy of this book.

© 2010, Wendy Runyon of Musings of a Bookish Kitty. All Rights Reserved.If you're reading this on a site other than Musings of a Bookish Kitty or Wendy's feed, be aware that this post has been stolen and is used without permission.


  1. sounds like a great book written for a great cause!

  2. Your review has been added to the book reviews page and a snippet appears on the home page today!

  3. I got this for the War Challenge and really need to get to it soon - it sounds fantastic!

  4. I don't think I've ever met anyone who was a Marine who didn't feel so proud about it. This sounds like a good book, and a great gift for former Marines!

  5. The Vietnam War is one of my favorite wars to read about, and has been for a long time. I am glad to hear this one was so good. I will be looking into it. Great review!

  6. I will have to read this one. Now that my son is soon to be a Marine this is one that would be an eye-opener for me.

  7. Glad you enjoyed this one. I have a copy at home too..just haven't gotten around to it. Now I'm even more interested in reading it.

  8. Marie - This is one I will definitely be buying a copy of--it's nice know my money would be going to a good cause.

    Anna & Serena - Thanks, Ladies! And thank you so much for hosting the challenge.

    Kathy - I enjoyed reading it. Barry seems like such a great person.

    Jill - Haha! That is true. I don't think I have met a Marine who wasn't proud to be one either.

    Heather - I thought it was a worthwhile read. I'm really curious to know what my dad will think when he reads it.

    Staci - I think you'd like this one. I hope you get a chance to read it!

    Kris - I look forward to reading your thoughts on this one when you do get to it, Kris. It is a pretty quick read, I thought.

  9. Sounds like a good book and really great of the author to use it as a fund raising device!

  10. Kathleen - I think so too! It's great that there are people like Barry Fixler out there who take the initiative to help such a deserving group of people. I hope he earns lots of money for the cause.


Thank you for taking the time to visit Musings of a Bookish Kitty. Don't be shy! I would love to hear from you. Due to a recent increase in spam, I will be moderating all comments for the foreseeable future. Please be patient with me as it may take a few hours before I am able to approve your comment.