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This Hackworth guy can write
Posted By Elizabeth Farah On 02/01/1999 @ 1:00 am In Commentary | Comments Disabled
No one ever said Col. David Hackworth didn’t have guts — at least
not to his face! Hack’s life proves intestinal fortitude can really pay
off. What do I mean? At age 14 he joined the Merchant Marines; at 15
he enlisted in the Army. He served his country as a soldier for 26
years, from World War II to Vietnam. He was the Korean War’s youngest
Army captain and the Vietnam War’s youngest colonel. To top off those
accomplishments, add enough medals to choke a gorilla.
As befits a man who knows few limits, Hack went from practicing
warfare to reporting warfare as a military correspondent in 1990. He
now writes a weekly syndicated column, and has written several books,
including the international best-seller, “About Face.” So what do you
do when you’re nearing 70 and you’ve already “done it all”? Write a
novel of course! As they say, “no guts, no glory.”
Whatever reservations I had about Hack’s ability to write first-rate
fiction were dispelled within the first several pages of “The Price of
Honor.” And I don’t mean it’s good “for a first try.” This novel is
great! If you enjoy action-packed political thrillers, this book is for
Drawing on his extensive experience as both soldier and journalist,
Hackworth has created a riveting work of fiction that cleverly conjoins
the thrills of armed combat with the intrigue of political conspiracy.
At the center of the novel are two compelling characters: Sandy Caine,
an Army Special Forces Captain, known as Hawk by his devoted “A-Team” of
warriors whom he bravely leads on one life-or-death mission after
another; and Abigail Mancini, an investigative reporter who, like Sandy,
refuses to back away from a conflict, even if it means putting her own
life on the line.
Sandy and Abbie are first thrown together in Somalia, when American
peace-keeping efforts suddenly turn violent, placing both of them in an
Alamo-like situation from which they barely escape. The next time they
meet is in Bosnia, where they again find themselves dodging gun-fire.
This time, though, they also find themselves passionately drawn to one
Undeniably attracted to Sandy, Abbie also detects a dark side that
deeply troubles her. She eventually coaxes him to reveal the source of
his rage and self-doubt: as the latest in an eight-generation line of
Caine men to serve in the military, Sandy has devoted himself to doing
his country — and his family name — proud; but his entire career has
been overshadowed by the tarnished reputation of his own father, Alex,
whose cowardice in Vietnam — according to eyewitness General Gus Buell
– led his “A-team” to be killed.
Sandy is therefore mystified when he meets an Army sergeant who tells
him not only that he fought alongside his father, but that Alex was a
courageous soldier who risked his own life to save his men. This
sergeant promises to tell Sandy more, but is killed in battle, leaving
Sandy to wonder what really occurred in Vietnam.
Abbie, as much out of love for Sandy as recognition of the potential
for a prize-winning story, decides to help him uncover the truth. As it
happens, Sandy’s past is strangely linked to another story she is
assigned — writing a profile of Jefferson Taylor, a rising star in the
U.S. Senate whose commitment to military reform has won him scores of
followers and made him a likely presidential candidate. Taylor, it turns
out, was also a friend of Sandy’s father who survived the Lang Vei
battle in which the father died and remains a close friend of the Caine
While Taylor avoids confirming Buell’s story about Alex’s cowardice,
Abbie eventually learns of another survivor of that battle who promises
to offer another version of those same events. As she and Sandy try to
track him down, they find their own lives, as well as those of anyone
whom they’ve contacted, put into jeopardy. Just when they come close to
discovering the truth, they are pursued through the woods of Montana by
a team of mercenary killers, whom they are eventually forced to battle
in hand-to-hand combat. In the end, they both learn that everything has
its price — love, truth, honor — and that sometimes, the price might
be one’s life.
Hackworth’s military experience enables him to craft action sequences
that are as riveting as they are authentically rendered and absolutely
riveting. But he also shows a talent for deft and nuanced
characterization, populating the novel with a diverse array of fully
realized, complex male and female characters, none more so than Sandy
and Abbie. Propelling the narrative and providing the book with a strong
emotional core, the way in which Abbie helps heal Sandy’s emotional
scars as the two embark on a tender romance makes this that rare
thriller that is simultaneously touching and action-packed.
Like a combination of “Saving Private Ryan” and “All the President’s
Men,” “The Price of Honor” expertly intertwines genres to create a novel
that is as innovative as it is engrossing. Just as “About Face”
highlighted Hackworth’s talent for writing military-based autobiography,
“The Price of Honor” indicates the arrival of an exciting new voice in
To purchase “The Price of Honor” click here.
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