Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Book Review: Breakfast with the Dirt Cult

Breakfast with the Dirt Cult, by Samuel Finlay. 313 pages.

I bought this book after reading these first three lines in this WSRA book review post:
Holy shit.
I pray God that the (extremely well-written) internal emotional wrenching was all fiction.
And I know that it was not.
Even the chance of the book being as good as the review claimed was worth the risk of the kindle price.

“Extremely well-written” is exactly right.  I was stunned this was a first time writer.

This book overlapped several areas for me.

I went through a phase over 20 years ago of reading every Vietnam War paperback I could get my hands on.  While many were great and all were interesting, none covered a full range of emotions and issues as Breakfast with the Dirt Cult.  None.

Another overlap: I too enlisted (E1, Army Reserves) and made that transition to corporal, and later sergeant.  He had this experience pegged.

The main character in the book, Tom Walton, enlisted in the Army infantry.  You get to see him in the grunt role where no responsibility is combined with being at the bottom of that hill where shit only rolls down. Then you get to watch him rise to the first levels of non-commissioned officer.  The weight of the assigned responsibilities combine with the unexpected inner drive to do well for your men.  

Another overlap: I discovered the Manosphere a couple years ago.  This book hits on many of the relationship challenges for men, which is the topic of the Manosphere sites like Return of Kings.  The Manosphere has little to do with my life, but I’m appalled at what has happened to America’s women and I admire the men of the Manosphere helping others with this counter-intuitive environment.  You’ll experience these frustrations through Walton in raw detail.  

My wife asked me if this the book is fiction or non-fiction.  Good question.  I think the answer is “yes.”  It appears to be an autobiography written in third person.  The only distraction this caused me was my own constant interruption: “I wish I could write like this.”  If there was any fiction here - anything made up - I didn’t catch it.  There are parts I wished were not true.

Unlike the Vietnam books I’ve read, combat is only a small part of this book.  You’ll watch Walton on pass, chasing girls, preparing for deployment, and going to war.  You’ll learn the infantryman’s modern tasking (in Afghanistan) and you’ll come to agree with Walton’s opinions on this - some critical of the strategy, some not.  You’ll see Walton post-deployment, re-uniting with family and friends, and watch him develop powerful feelings and opinions that only a returning soldier could form.

This book is for men.  The author does not filter the conversations and topics for a wider audience.  This is the infantry and these are American men in their prime.  You might notice the book is written in three parts with the first part raw in the areas of dating, sex and warrior camaraderie.  The second part is more about the unit’s experiences, it’s interactions, and the maturing of Walton.  The third part starts in the last 20 or so pages and is more reflective.  Parts one and two were top quality.  I did not enjoy the third part as much, partly because I did not agree (or want to agree) with the bitterness of some conclusions, and partly because it felt like a rush job to finish the book.  

My top takeaway: Breakfast with the Dirt Cult is yet another reminder that America’s best are always found in the military.  In some ways it is the same old Army I knew in the 80’s.  In some ways, it is all new.

I highly recommend this book to men in the military and veterans, and I suggest all men give this book a try.  There is far more in it than just a military story.

I’ve added this book to the Library section at the left of the blog.  Here is a Google Document with some choice quotes from the book.

You can buy the book here.

U/T: Samuel Finlay and WRSA


adolf hitler said...

Why do young men join the US Armed Fairies to fight for jew bankers and Israel's interests? I guess the young are pretty gullible.

Karl said...

Quite the loaded question there, Adolf.

Some men, and women mind you, see the service as a right of passage. They even see it as genetic - something primal that exists despite the evolutionary and stabilizing gains of agriculture, industrialism, and the rule of law. Some join to ‘grow up,’ yet I’d argue than anybody who seeks military service is already grown up. Some join to get in shape. Some join to expose themselves to the challenges and dangers from which true heroes emerge. I suspect those who’ve joined since 9/11 do so for more pure and patriotic reasons.

One key factor of military service is that you are following others. Join the Army Rangers, and you are linked to the men who scaled Pointe du Hoc. Join the Marines and you are of the same men who took Iwo Jima. Join the Air Force and you are connected to the men who ended WWII and who flew coal into Berlin during the airlift. Join the Navy and be the latest generation to see how America projects its power and stabilizes the entire planet with its presence.

Of course, one of the best historic achievements of the military is at the individual level. The nameless Army soldier who bayonet-pinned a Nazi to the ground and maintained eye contact with the racist socialist as he bled out. That soldier came home after the war, started a family, started a career, and in the end lived the full life experience of an American. I hope the author of this book does the same.

God bless them all, and God bless the United States of America.

I have another post on this subject:

Anonymous said...

Whirlwinder @

I view a stint in the military as an extremely good thing. There have been military people in my family all the way back to the American Revolution. My dad served 6 tours of duty in Vietnam as a helo pilot in his highly decorated career retiring as an O-6 with 23 years of service. My son was (is) a Marine and I spent 4 years in the Air Force. Patriotism is a part of life for most Americans.

Compare our service record with John Kerry's 4 months as a swift boater in Vietnam. He came home with his tail between his legs and started buddying up with the Communists in America and N. Vietnam. This tool is still spewing crap. He gives a bad name to all things military and to America as well.

CC said...

I'm not surprised someone who calls himself Adolph Hitler doesn't understand anything about duty and honor.
I guess the anti-Semites prefer the nihilistic Moslems, since they're much more alike.

TSAdams said...

Hey Adolf; before you shoot your mouth off anymore you should consider that God the friend of Abraham, the father of the Hebrews/Jews promised that He would bless those that bless Israel and curse those that curse or use insolent language towards Israel. Genesis 12:3 Adolf; go have a look then dig yourself a hole.

And Adolf, since you seem to think your tough. Find any off base watering hole for US Military enlisted men and tell them what you think of them. If you got the gonads; they got the cure for your opinion.

Adolf my friend after you look up Genesis 12:3 you better have a long look at the entirety of the New Testament. It was a Jew that died for your sins and wrote the escape clause for you in His own blood.

Your short on time Adolf; better get going.