Oftentimes, the word “autobiography” can seem off-putting at best. Fortunately, “The Heart and The Fist: The Education of a Humanitarian, the Making of a Navy SEAL” by Eric Greitens defies any notions the of self-serving narcissism that readers often fear when cracking open an autobiography.
Greitens opens his book in the midst of battle in Fallujah, Iraq. He then jumps back in time to his childhood in Missouri, where he grew up dreaming of being a hero like he read about in books, but worrying that he had been born too late to make a difference in the world. Over the course of the book, the reader learns, as Greitens did, what it truly takes to be a hero in the modern world.
In “The Heart and The Fist,” Greitens tells how he went from an undergraduate student frustrated with his studies to a humanitarian worker and Navy SEAL fighting for the safety of people around the world. Greitens’s travels in China, Bolivia, Bosnia and Rwanda opened his eyes to the amount of suffering and oppression still present in our world. As a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford University, Greitens wrote his PhD dissertation on how international aid organizations can benefit children whose lives have been affected by war and conflict. After publishing his work, however, Greitens felt that he could not tell others how to help those affected by conflict if he was not willing to get involved himself. His revelation led him to the United States military, where, after initial training, he entered training to become a member of the Navy SEALs, one of the most elite forces on earth.
Greitens’s story is one that is truly worth reading. There truly is something for everyone in this exciting and thought-provoking memoir. From a boxing gym in North Carolina to the streets of Bolivia to the front lines in Iraq, the reader is able to see the world through Greitens’s eyes. Greitens’s thoughtful, humble, and ever-relatable prose captivates the reader from the very beginning. Although it is an autobiography, “The Heart and The Fist” reads like a novel, making it almost impossible to set down. Greitens’s military experiences and detailed description of SEAL training will attract readers seeking action and excitement while eye-opening accounts of hardship in the developing world will speak to anyone interested in current events and humanitarian issues.
After travelling across the globe and working with people of diverse cultures, Greitens realized that the best way to truly make an impact in the lives of others is to have both strength and goodness. He explains that simply exercising strength and power are worthless unless one also has the compassion necessary to create truly meaningful change in the world.
At the end of the book, readers will hunger to see more of the world and to make their own mark upon it. Greitens shows readers how simple it is to improve the lives of people all across the world. Above all, “The Heart and The Fist” is a story of hope, and how each person can make a difference and discover his or her own strength and compassion.