Written by Caroline
A book review by Jim “Gymbeaux” Brown, October 27,
DISCLAIMER: Like the author, I too enlisted in the U. S.
Coast Guard as a Seaman Recruit (E-1), the lowest enlisted grade in the
service. Unlike the author, I progressed
up the promotional ladder by “striking” for Yeoman in the field in lieu of
being assigned to a Class A Service School.
Over time I was promoted to Chief Petty Officer, then to Chief Warrant
Officer and then to a Lieutenant, a Limited Duty Officer (LDO). I retired from the Coast Guard after twenty
years as a Lieutenant on a permanent disability retirement. More importantly, I entered the service in
1965 and retired in 1985. Why is this important? Because there is a total disparity in my
review given the differences in our ages and to some degree also in our
educational background. The author
graduated from college; I attended only two years of college. But the time frame is what’s so very
important to understanding the following review.
I will not give the book a bad review because I actually
enjoyed reading it. I personally believe
that there IS a difference between sexual abuse involving actual sexual
advances and/or sexual relationships as compared to the the raw military humor
based on the difference between the sexes.
The author seems to me to be writing more about the later as she describes
her encounters during her time in the Coast Guard. I do not doubt she experienced what she wrote
about. All I can say is that in my 20-year
Coast Guard career, I did not see the type of treatment she received. That may be the result of being a man as
compared to being a woman. Nor did I see
or experience the type of failed leadership that she was exposed to. I have no doubt about the leadership as she
described it at Montauk Point Light Station but that is just one unit and represents
only 25 of the over 35,000 Coast Guard men and women. The book is well written and definitely holds
your attention. I would simply hate for
any reader to assume that the entire Coast Guard was the picture image of how
she described Montauk Point Light Station.
As for her time in the CIA, I found it fascinating that
she encountered some of the same failed leadership traits in the CIA that she
identified in the U. S. Coast Guard. I
fear that many readers who have little to no experience in military service or
government service may draw conclusions about the two types of services as
being typical of the entire U. S. Government.
In this regard, I do not concur in such a conclusion which is why I felt
the need to qualify my comments by defining my service in the Coast Guard.
It may sound like I did not like the book which is not
the case, I did enjoy reading it, otherwise I would not have taken the time to
finished it. There is a significant age
difference between the author and me but more importantly, it was a total
difference in the calendar years difference when we were both 20 something and
joining the Coast Guard. Different eras,
different beliefs. Acceptable behavior
in the 1960s was not in the 2000s and visa versa. It’s important for the reader of this review
to understand this difference in ages and eras.
The author wrote about the single most valuable personal
trait that anyone could possibly create for themselves. Unfortunately, she did not put it into
specific words such as: Always do your
best to make yourself indispensable regardless of the situations you may find
yourself in. That is exactly what she
did without saying it. She made the best
of both good and bad situations throughout the book by becoming indispensable to
the people she worked for, both good and bad.
With such an attitude, she will always land on her feet regardless of
what may be happening. That very lesson
definitely makes the book worth reading.
should read the book? I think anyone who reads it will benefit from
read it again? No, there would be no need.
Would I give it as a gift? Possibly,
but to people who I believe would enjoy such a topic.