Wednesday, April 28, 2021

Books: Memoirs of Mastery Double Feature

I often read memoirs about accomplished people, regardless of their profession, because there is a certain joy in seeing someone overcome obstacles and train to do something well. The authors of today's two autobiographies have wildly different backgrounds, and yet are similar in many ways...

The Ranger Way, by Kris "Tanto" Paronto

The 2012 Benghazi attack will almost certainly be the lede in news stories when Kris Paronto dies, but his actions on that fateful night (and even the political fallout afterwards) are really only a small part of his life.  After all, Paronto would have never been in Libya if he hadn't first become a U.S. Army Ranger, gutting it through hellish physical and mental ordeals that make civilian life seem tame.  And he faced his share of personal troubles, including a failed marriage that almost led him to quit the Ranger Regiment forever.

The Ranger Way recounts those struggles, loosely connecting the battle to save the American diplomatic compound, the grueling Ranger training process, and experiences abroad as a CIA contractor.  As a self-help book, it's not terribly organized and perhaps a little pat (chapter titles include "Be Brave," "Be Confident," and "Have Faith"), but it's coming from someone who has been there and done that, so it's certainly worth a read.

Relentless, by John Tesh

If you're associating someone with words like "relentless," "purpose," "grit," and "faith," John Tesh might not immediately spring to mind, until you hear about his pitched battle with prostate cancer. Doctors gave him 18 months to live in 2015, but he endured, eventually travelling the country on a concert/book tour.  I saw him in concert back in 2020, right before the pandemic, and picked up his book, Relentless.

It's a pretty comprehensive autobiography, going back to Tesh disassembling a stereo at age 7 (an incident he also talked about in his stage show), progressing through his broadcast and music career (there's a whole chapter about "Roundball Rock"), and interweaving his trying cancer diagnosis and interludes about his Christian faith. If you're not a Tesh fan it probably won't work, but if you liked "Entertainment Tonight" in the '90s, the radio show "Intelligence for Your Life," or this Jason Sudeikis/Tim Robinson SNL skit, you'll probably dig it:


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