Proof of Our Resolve by Chris Hernandez
Genere(s): War, Action, Ficto-biography, Afghanistan
Publisher: Tactical 16, LLC
Description: Proof of Our Resolve is a novel about a Texas Army National Guard infantry platoon deployed to Afghanistan. This books attempts to convey some of the experiences of soldiers serving in Afghanistan through a fictional platform.
This book is listed as fiction, but for anyone who has served this is more of conglomeration of stories that actually happened to the author or his fellow service members told within a fictional platform. I was in the Army for 12 years and to this day I still find it hard to convey what real world operations feel like but Chris Hernandez has no such limitations. I have read hundreds of military fiction books and this is by far one of the best I have ever read. Because I know many of the instances in this story are based on reality, it shows just how skilled an author Mr. Hernandez is. At 197 pages this book is just the right length, although most of the time while reading this book I wanted it to be longer, I wanted more, but by the time the book finished it was just the right length.
This book actually touches on several aspects of military life including combat, day-to-day military life and what I call “Dirty Boots Leadership”. The combat action in this book focuses mostly on first person perspectives. There is some bird’s-eye commentary but for the most part, we as readers are only allowed to know as much as the characters know. I love it when an author describes combat this way. It truly portrays how it feels to be there as opposed to feeling like you are reading about a battle or engagement in a history book. With Proof of Our Resolve, Chris Hernandez has captured in book form the same jarring combat experience that audience members were exposed to when watching the movie Saving Private Ryan. The pace of this book is worth mentioning, because like any other book it has its peaks and valleys. As you can guess, the combat operations were by far the most exciting but without overdoing it, Mr. Hernandez was able to fill the valleys with a quick glimpse of what life is like the rest of the time for soldiers. Plenty of books and movies cover what down time is like for service members, and rather than beat a dead horse, Proof of Our Resolve touches on it and uses those scenes to enhance the page-turning action sequences.
Now let’s discuss the “Dirty Boots Leadership” I mentioned earlier. Chris Hernandez was a leader, which you can tell just by reading this book. What he did in Proof of Our Resolve is cut away all of the leadership concepts that seem so easy to implement when read from a manual and went straight to the dirty boots side of leadership that no school or manual can prepare you for. People seldom discuss the self doubt and second guessing that goes on in a leader’s head. Authors tend to glaze over the inner turmoil that a leader faces when one of the soldiers under their command dies or is hurt. Describing things like this don’t make for good fiction, but they are the most difficult part of being a leader. There is no manual that can tell you what to say to a soldier who just zipped up the body bag containing parts of his best friend and is still covered in their blood. Chris Hernandez goes there in Proof of Our Resolve and he is willing to say all of those things most leaders and servicemen don’t want to discuss. These moments are not the focus of the book, but in some ways they are some of the most important. I could easily see this book making an SGM‘s recommended reading list for NCOs, as well as enlisted soldiers.
This book was not without its faults though, as no book is. I was very worried that Mr. Hernandez was going to play up the identifiable enemy who the soldiers had to neutralize at all costs and in a way he did. He saved himself at the end of the story, but it was touch and go for a while. Because of the nature of the fight in Afghanistan the enemy is often unknown or worse sitting right next to you wearing an ANA uniform. Mr. Hernandez makes this obvious but he dipped his toes in the well-defined good guy/bad guy pool just a bit deeper than I would have liked. My biggest complaint was his use of “Hooah!“, especially towards the end of the novel. For those readers who are not in the Army, hooah is a kind of catchall phrase that the Army commercialized for recruiting purposes. Hooah is still used in the Army but it is often frowned upon. The hooahs were in check for the first part of the book, but by the end SFC Nunez had a bit of “hooah diarrhea.”
Proof of Our Resolve is a really well-written and accurate depiction of the type of engagements and the participants in those engagements in Afghanistan. Chris Hernandez was careful not to overwhelm the reader with tons of acronyms and the ones that he included, he explained. These explanations made Proof of Our Resolve the type of book that military and civilians can read and enjoy with ease. There are some tough moments in this book and there are chapters that will piss you off. Any book than can evoke the emotions that this book evoked for me is worth twice the cover price. It bothers me that this book will not get the exposure that it deserves because it is being released by a small company, but that is the only small thing about this story.
It doesn’t matter if you are serving, have served or have never served, this book has something for you. Even if you don’t support the war in Afghanistan, this book will give you an insight into what our troops are going through and how it is affecting their lives, in and out of uniform. This book is proof of Chris Hernandez’ resolve to tell the average soldiers story to as broad an audience as possible.