by Jason B. Ladd
Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book for an honest review.
They say don’t judge a book by its cover. But it is fairly safe to say that you can do that with “One of the Few”. This book is, as the metaphorical ‘they’ say again, exactly what it says on the tin. Jason B. Ladd explores religion in both the theoretical and practical from the perspective of a U.S. Marine. He is no armchair philosopher but a military scout, keeping his eyes, ears, and mind open for anything that might affect the outcome. The research in the book is sourced from a complex array of places from the cockpit of personal experience, to the musing of the founding father of America, to philosophers who lived and died before Rome had an empire. The pacing is comfortable and the philosophical musings run deep but clear. The format that the over arching personal story is told in is predictable and a bit formulaic, as befits an author used to filling out reconnaissance reports. Through it all Ladd does not seem to be trying to make a name for himself in academia, rather the book feels like the explorations of a soldier who believes that lives could very well be on the line if the intelligence he gives them is wrong.
The personal stories are intriguing and detailed without getting bogged down in reminiscing and the characters feel real and engaging without being dry and boring. The explanations of military hardware and culture can seem a bit redundant for someone who already has a basic understanding of military aviation but are no doubt necessary for (most) people who didn’t grow up learning to differentiate between the various helicopter classes by sound. For example, a detailed explanation of how a fast attack helicopter pilot differs in mindset from a fighter jet ‘flyboy’ sets up a revealing philosophical point, and those differences and well explained. In short, the book is more written with those who did not shed a sentimental tear when the good old huey was finally formally retired a few years back.
This was an enjoyable book and what it lacks in originality is excused by the nature of the questions it asks. Who am I? Who am I in relationship to the world? Who am I in relationship to the Creator of all things? Who has my back? Ladd is asking questions that have haunted the best minds in the world since humanity began to record his musings in writing. Like all of these minds Ladd takes his own path. The path of a United States Marine.
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