I Chose to Be a U.S. Marine
George W. Carrington
Reviewed by Dr. Michael Philliber for Reader Views (01/14)
Article first published as Book Review: ‘I Chose to Be a U.S. Marine’ by George W. Carrington on Blogcritics.
Memoirs are peculiar creatures. They can be delightful jaunts into personal pasts, tying together “abstract” historical events with real people; they can be a tedious recounting of uneventful and uninteresting human trivia; and some can be the barely-cogent ramblings of someone remembering-out-loud. Whichever the case, most memoirs have their own interesting story to tell. Col. George W. Carrington, retired United States Marine Corps Colonel, has recently left the world a mini-memoir; “I Chose to Be a U.S. Marine” is a short, 112 page paperback describing his time as a U.S. Marine, covering his tours from World War II to Vietnam, and includes 24 pages of personal photographs from birth to retirement.
As strange as it may sound, “I Chose to Be a U.S. Marine” does not glamorize military service, nor romanticize war. Carrington simply retells, almost anecdotally, his experiences with people and situations, mostly outside of combat. The reader follows Carrington from his early days in the Navy R.O.T.C., to Iwo Jima, then to China, back to Camp Lejeune North Carolina, to Korea, to working under the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and finally to Vietnam. The last two chapters are loosely tied-together reflections on Military Justice, as well as stanzas, sayings and sentiments of a veteran. The whirlwind tour through Carrington’s Marine experiences, about 26 years, will take an average reader all of about 2 hours to read.
In some ways, George W. Carrington’s “I Chose to Be a U.S. Marine” is enjoyably interesting; especially if you appreciate hearing people tell their “story” as I do. Nevertheless, the book struggles to be coherent at times. Whole paragraphs will sometimes be a jumble of flow-of-consciousness material; sentences are jerky and as bumpy as some of Carrington’s Jeep rides in Vietnam. This book is a stellar specimen of why, when an author is going to self-publish he or she needs to sink serious money in a good editor. For an author with a doctorate from Oxford, and an earlier book titled “Foreigners in Formosa: 1841-1874,” this book is a step backward into grammar school. The sad side is that there is so much potential here for a great personal story, yet it gets lost in all of the glitches and literary SNAFUS. As a retired military veteran myself, I unfortunately cannot give this a high star review as a finished book and hope the author will get this to a professional editor and re-publish.