When I was in the service, I was very conscientious about my professional library. Marine Corps officers were expected to learn about their profession at military schools, and through self education. I'd always enjoyed military history and I built quite a library.
I invariably wrote my name, rank and the date in the cover of each book I bought, as well as where I bought them. As I served in 36 foreign countries, there are some interesting inscriptions in some of those books. So, I primarily own a collection of books that started in the summer of 1971 and ended in May, 1986.
When I went out the gate at Camp Lejeuene for the last time on May 16th of that year, I didn't have any further interest in anything related to the military. It took me several years before I even picked up any of those books again.
One book in particular I've always been ambivalent about. On the one hand, I admired the author and on the other, he was very much the protagonist in a Greek tragedy. Riddled with flaws that eventually caused his downfall.
I just read it again, to see if I felt differently after all these years, and I find that I don't.
David Hackworth was a soldier. He joined the Army as a private after World War II, fought through Korea, received a battlefield commission, then fought through most of the Vietnam war. He was one of those guys you never want for a C.O. because he had no outside interests and expected his men to put in 16 hour days seven days a week. No time for family, no time for rest, no time for any diversion. Just work.
He eventually dumped his wife and kids because he found them a distraction. He went through a series of women his entire adult life, but could never keep any kind of relationship going. He cared nothing for rules or regulations, and he hated and despised the ring knocker society, the apple polishers and ticket punchers. In the end, that destroyed him.
Unable to do anything about the many serious issues he saw with how the Vietnam war was being fought, he went outside the service and gave interviews that amounted to valid criticisms of corruption and incompetence, both within the U.S. military and the South Vietnamese system. That is something a serving officer doesn't do. He incurred the wrath of General Westmoreland, and the Army tried to press charges against him. He wound up barely escaping court martial by resigning as a full Colonel.
After that, he tried to live in Spain. If you are old enough to remember the Vietnam war, you know there was not much of a middle ground in public discussion and he was harried by those who thought he was being traitorous. I think he was just insane, by then. The Spanish jaunt didn't work out, and he moved to Australia, after first dumping another girl friend. There he eventually married an Australian woman, fiddled around in different ventures, and became a writer and news correspondent. He continued criticizing the Army until he died in 1995.( corrected per comment by the Sgt. In fact, Hackworth died in 2005)
The strange thing is that he was a household word in the 1970's, just about anyone would have been able to tell you who he was, although what they said would have depended on their political persuasion.
Most young officers read his book, because there was a great deal in it that was true, and they could identify with what he was saying.
But time has moved on, and almost no one remembers David Hackworth now. It's a shame, because whether you thought him a hero or a villain, he was an intelligent individual and his experiences of life have a lot to offer, even today.