My current book is I am Soldier of Fortune by Robert K. Browne, who is the controversial founder of Soldier of Fortune magazine. I got the book as a remainder from Edward R. Hamilton for a few bucks. After the first 98 pages, I’d say that it’s a poorly-written autobiography that includes much self-aggrandizing commentary and leaves out many details of Brown’s life. But, it’s also consistently entertaining and hard to put down.
I am Solider of a Fortune is a peace-nik’s nightmare. Brown has spent his life chasing conflict and seeking to get into the middle of it. He recounts his combat experience in Vietnam and is up front about the fact that he went hoping to “see action” – and did. Brown reminds me of G. Gordon Liddy – I think that he loves to be a boogeyman to liberals. Brown particularly relishes his ability to astonish his liberal neighbors at his home base in Boulder, Colorado.
Surprisingly, Brown’s first involvement with politics was as a supporter of Fidel Castro in the 1950s. He’s at pains to say that no one knew that Castro was a communist at the time and that he became involved because he hated Cuban dictator, Fulgencio Batista. At any rate, Brown quickly switched sides and became active in anti-Castro causes. As with most of Brown’s initiatives, the anti-Castro plots came to very little.
What’s in I am Soldier of Fortune is pretty good. But the book has real drawbacks. So far, Brown has focused almost entirely on his involvement chasing war. There is almost literally nothing about his childhood, his parents, or anything personal. At one point, he writes
“A short-lived, turbulent, to say the least, and totally unsatisfactory marriage to a local bottle-bleached Boulder psycho siren left me thoroughly pissed off at the world in the summer of 1963” (p. 57).
He then notes that he needed money for alimony and child support. Thus far, these are the sole mentions of his marriage and children.
So, this isn’t a great book. But I’m enjoying reading it. Now that the story has Browne home from Vietnam, it will be interesting to see if he can maintain my interest.