A Book Review of 1-800-I-AM-UNHAPPY (Vol. 1)
“We have become a culture of chameleons adapting to the perceived feelings of others!” —Chapter 19, “Too Bad”
I find that the opening quote for this review comes as an interesting observation from a man who used to be a “frog.”
1-800-I-AM-UNHAPPY (Vol. 1) is a collection of things, thoughts and other stuff from Yale graduate and former Navy frogman, Chris Bent– 67 chapters of reflections and ruminations to be precise; but to merely call this book reflections and ruminations would be a disservice to what author Bent serves up. To call them random thoughts would be an insulting injustice altogether, in my humble opinion. There is nothing random about the Navy’s diver community, whether it be SEALs, salvage diver, or EOD. There is always a method to the madness. In order to get the gist of what this book is about, first we need to understand a little bit about the scribe behind the words.
Chris Bent was a Navy “frog” who served in Underwater Demolition Team Unit 21 (UDT-21, later SEAL Team 4). He graduated from Basic Underwater Demolition/SEALs (BUD/S) training with Class 31E. To give you an idea of the time frame, Richard “The Rogue Warrior” Marcinko graduated with Class 26 and Jesse “The Body” Ventura graduated with Class 58. I was a Navy diver in the 80s and 90s, a generation behind Chris Bent’s era. He was the old school Navy, of whom we young guys (back then) would reverently refer to as the “men of iron who sailed ships of wood.” You need to keep this in mind when reading his book.
The book is a delight. Whatever your background; whatever your religious perspective; you should be able to read author Bent’s book and come away with something. Even if you disagree with everything he has written, I believe that at the end, you must set your book or eReader down, stand up and applaud with a chest swollen with heartfelt gratitude to thank men like Chris Bent for defending and representing your right to vehemently disagree with his perspective.
His book provides 67 vignettes into the soul of today’s America through a sometimes staccato rat-tat-tat of M16 fire straight for the heart. Bent is the warrior’s Andy Rooney because he’s not just ranting about what’s gone amiss– he inspires us to pull from within the mettle that will empower us to soar on high. Like a BUD/S instructor, pressing us on to drive out the pain with even more pushups, as he describes when he writes about rules in Chapter 25, “Red Light District”:
“You can be sure you paid a price when you broke [the rules]. Now in SEAL training if you so much as winked it was an extra 50-100 pushups or a dip in the icy ocean and rolling in the sand and then some run up a stupid sand dune…. You learned fast or failed. Failure sucks.”
I laughed. I nodded (yup, been there; done that; bought the t-shirt). There were even a few tears of joy and sadness. I don’t know Chris personally, but those who have served the U.S. Navy are always shipmates for life. Therefore, I say gratefully: Hooyah, Chris Bent. Hooyah, old shipmate.
I-AM-SO-HAPPY that a friend told me about this book. I heartily recommend it, not only to all my shipmates with whom I served back in the day, but to anyone who might like to feel the pulse, the real heart and soul at the core of the men portrayed in recent movies such as MURPH the PROTECTOR and LONE SURVIVOR.
I have already purchased 1-800-I-AM-UNHAPPY – Volume 2 and will be reading it shortly; and you can bet that I’ll read Volume 1 again. Having said that, I’ll leave you with this quote from Chapter 38, “DDG 112 Hooyah”…
“What one does for others is the measure of one’s life. You can take bullets on a hill or you can take criticism in your home. It does not matter as long as you are standing for good. Calling a spade a spade… calling bad for what it is, period.”
You can purchase Chris Bent’s book at Amazon.com (here’s the link) or wherever good books are sold.