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The Heart and the Fist: The education of a humanitarian, the making of a Navy SEAL [Kindle Edition]

Eric Greitens
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)

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Book Description

THE HEART AND THE FIST shares one man’s story of extraordinary leadership and service as both a humanitarian and a warrior. In a life lived at the raw edges of the human experience, Greitens has seen what can be accomplished when compassion and courage come together in meaningful service.

As a Rhodes Scholar and Navy SEAL, Greitens worked alongside volunteers who taught art to street children in Bolivia and led US Marines who hunted terrorists in Iraq. He’s learned from nuns who fed the destitute in one of Mother Teresa’s homes for the dying in India, from aid workers who healed orphaned children in Rwanda, and from Navy SEALs who fought in Afghanistan. He excelled at the hardest military training in the world, and today he works with severely wounded and disabled veterans who are rebuilding their lives as community leaders at home.

Greitens offers each of us a new way of thinking about living a meaningful life. We learn that to win any war, even those we wage against ourselves; to create and obtain lasting peace; to save a life; and even, simply to live with purpose requires us—every one of us—to be both good and strong.

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"If you're in despair about America's future, meet my hero - Eric Greitens. His life and this book reminds us that America remains the land of the brave and generous. The heart and fist are just the combination we need." Tom Brokaw ""The Heart and the Fist" might have been written in many countries, but its ideals seem to me to be quintessentially American, from and of the United States as she is at her best. That Eric Greitens Rhodes Scholar, Navy SEAL, international humanitarian worker and founder of the veterans' aid organization, The Mission Continues is an extraordinary individual goes without saying. But what resounds so powerfully in this book is his consciousness and drive, from the earliest age, not to cash in on his own abundant gifts but to find some path that was worthy of his highest self, some way to be of use, to make a contribution and to really live a life. This is very American. Mr. Greitens combines in one person the warrior ethos of toughness, courage and tenacity with the compassion of the humanitarian. This, too, is very American--not just to win wars or to impose our will or point of view, but to act in the service of others, on their own terms, to put others in touch with their own capacity to manifest this flame that burns so brightly in Mr. Greitens. If you're restless or itching for some calling you can't name, read this book. Give it to your son and daughter. "The Heart and the Fist" epitomizes as does Mr. Greitens' life, present and future--all that is best in this country, and what we need desperately right now." Steven Pressfield, author of "Gates of Fire" "Eric Greitens is exactly the kind of citizen-warrior that America needs to fight our wars abroad and to win our battles at home. A man wise enough to lead, courageous enough to fight, and compassionate enough to care, he has written a glorious book about how to live with purpose that should be required reading for every American." Bobby Muller, Founder of Vietnam Veterans for America and co-founder of the Nobel Peace Prize Winning International Campaign to Ban Landmines" "The Heart and the Fist" is a vitally important, powerful book, along the lines of "Seven Pillars of Wisdom" by T.E. Lawrence (aka "Lawrence of Arabia"). Filled with adventure, eminently readable, and an incredibly valuable look into the heart and mind of a great man who would serve to guide us into understanding an alien culture. This book helps to bridge the gap between humanitarian groups and the military (the 'heart' and the 'fist' ... who are, all too often, truly 'alien' to each other!), in the same way that "Three Cups of Tea" helps bridge the gap between the people of Afghanistan, and those of the West who would assist that nation. As "Three Cups of Tea" and "Seven Pillars of Wisdom" have become mandatory reading in many military organizations, "The Heart and the Fist" is a seminal, paradigm-shifting work that should be mandatory reading for every military and humanitarian organization who would work together (who "must" work together!), around the planet, to make our world a better place. And, even more importantly, this book should be mandatory reading for every citizen who cares about helping others, with our military or with our humanitarian efforts, in a world filled with starvation, suffering, tyranny, oppression and genocide. This book has turned me into a believer in Eric Greitens' methodology and his cause. Among the first of many to come!" Lt. Col. Dave Grossman, Lt. Col. USA (ret), author of "On Combat "and "On Killing" "If the United States is going to continue to be the indispensable nation in the 21st century, it is going to require an elite corps of both warriors and humanitarians that combine hard and soft power. Eric Greitens, both in his personal example, and in his book, points the way forward." Robert D. Kaplan, senior fellow at the Center for a New American Security, author of "Monsoon: The Indian Ocean and the Future of American Power" ""The Heart and The Fist" is a defining profile of compassion, courage and commitment that gets to the heart of why we wear the uniform. From combat to the home front, Eric Greitens has demonstrated extraordinary leadership as a Navy SEAL, humanitarian and champion for wounded veterans. His powerful story is testament the service of this Next Greatest Generation that will continue long after the wars end." Paul Rieckhoff, Founder of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA) and author of "Chasing Ghosts." "Few men who become Navy SEALs enter this elite warrior fraternity with a background so rich in compassion, service, and cross-cultural awareness as did Eric Greitens. And few Navy SEALs have served the growing community of wounded warriors with such skill and dedication as has Eric Greitens and The Mission Continues." Dick Couch, Author of "The Warrior Elite" and "Chosen Soldier" "One would have to be mighty cynical to resist the power of Greitens experiences, and young Americans would benefit from contemplating his message... A remarkable story told with modesty and grace." "Kirkus Reviews""A glorious tale of humanity, resolve, and strength, Greitens's book reminds us of how many things we take for granted in our well-ordered lives." "Publishers Weekly""

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great book with an important message 27 July 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Great book with an important message written by a man that leads by example. This book is a must read for anyone trying to find a sense of purpose.
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5.0 out of 5 stars The Heart and the Fist 23 Sept. 2014
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Great story by ex SEAL and RHODES SCHOLAR.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.6 out of 5 stars  373 reviews
183 of 190 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Riveting True Life Tale 9 April 2011
By Christopher M. Marvin - Published on
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This book should be required reading for anyone with an interest in service--from the Peace Corps to the Marine Corps. It is a riveting true life tale of a modern day renaissance man. From humanitarian intervention in post-genocidal Africa to hunting al Qaeda in coastal villages in the Philippines, The Heart and the Fist explores the depths of our world and a young man who has served it in many ways.

"The world needs many more humanitarians than it needs warriors, but there can be none of the former without enough of the latter," are the words of this Rhodes Scholar and Oxford PhD as he makes his decision to join the US Navy SEAL Teams. Rhodes Scholars are meant to contribute to "the world's fight", and none have demonstrated a willingness to do so more than Eric Greitens. Described elegantly and with integrity in Greitens' memoir are his humanitarian missions to Rwanda, the Balkans, India, Gaza, and many other of the world's most oppressed and unfortunate regions. These pursuits of the heart are juxtaposed poignantly against SEAL training and four combat deployments with Naval Special Warfare.

Greitens lives the life of a humanitarian and a warrior, and for both roles he is able to extract unique insights by virtue of his extensive study of Greek philosophy, American history, and modern-day saints like Mother Teresa. It is a defining work for our next generation of heroes.
45 of 45 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A great read that should find a wide audience 23 April 2011
By Guy Deyoung - Published on
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
The Heart and the Fist is a great read that should appeal to a wide audience. The author is a masterful story teller, and he has some very interesting stories to tell. The book opens with the author being blasted awake, literally, by a suicide truck bomb in Iraq. As he is medically evacuated he says goodbye to his second in command, Lieutenant Travis Manion, not knowing that Manion will soon be killed in action making the farewell permanent. Just like in a movie the main character, Greitens, then goes back in time to tell the story of how he got to that fateful moment in Iraq in the first place.

The book can be divided into three sections. In the first section the author describes his upbringing, education, and his foreign travel where he worked in humanitarian causes, and on furthering his education. This section of the book could easily be expanded into a standalone book of its own. Greiten's has been to the scene of some of the greatest humanitarian disasters of the last 20 years; places like Bosnia and Rwanda. He is able to tell the story of the average person in these terrible places, and capture them as people with whom the reader can readily empathize. Rather than dwelling on the misery at hand Greitens is always questioning why these situations were allowed to happen to begin with, and ponders the question of who should be responsible for preventing atrocities in places like Rwanda. At the same time that he is trying to help bring aid and healing he wonders what he should do to prevent humanitarian crisis from arising in the first place. In all his humanitarian work he has always been keenly aware that he is only a visitor, a temporary player on the stage who can exit to safety and comfort whenever he wants. As an American he is very much aware that he has lived a relatively privileged existence. He has a high standard of living, a great education, and future prospects of lucrative careers. Throughout his life he has been influenced by people who have served causes greater than themselves. His boxing trainer Earl, the boxing coach at Oxford, his grandfather, and many of the humanitarian workers he has met overseas have all impressed him with the joy they get through service to others. After some reflection he decides to turn his back on his career opportunities and get "some skin in the game" when it comes to actually doing something to protect people. This decision leads to the second two parts of the book. Greitens decides to serve by joining the U.S. Navy and becoming a SEAL.
The second section of the book covers his training and qualification first as a Navy officer through Officer Candidate School (OCS), and then as a SEAL in the famous BUDS course. This section of the book was great. If you have ever seen the movie "An Officer and a Gentleman" then you get the sense of what he writes about in OCS, minus the romance with the local girls that was in the movie. His account of SEAL training at the basic selection course, known as BUDS, was fascinating. His observations on his fellow classmates, his instructors, and his own feelings are remarkable. This section of the book, like the first, could easily have been expanded into its own book.

Section three covers some of Greitens experiences on active duty as a Navy Seal officer. His experiences here, as throughout the book, focus on understanding people and turning that understanding into action in ways that serve. When Greitens talks about serving it is not a simple concept. When he tells a story that speaks of service it is told from the perspective of serving the mission, serving his fellow service members, and to the greatest extent possible service to mankind. If that sounds like an ambitious goal for any person to relate I would agree with you, but Greitens pulls it off flawlessly.

In the end the book is all about service. Greiten's message is that good intentions are never enough. People have to be willing to serve to whatever extent is possible for them. Whether it is on the front lines in Iraq, or by volunteering at a Big Brothers and Big Sisters organization we all need to ask ourselves the question of "if not me, then who?" This is the type of book that I'll pass along to my wife and that we'll enjoy talking about for years to come.
92 of 99 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Reading about a Humanitarian Soldier 6 April 2011
By Naomi Manygoats - Published on
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I am really NOT into books about soldiers and war. However, I thought I would read this book, then pass it on to my nephew, who wants to join the Navy Seals. I was totally surprised by how well this book is written, and the remarkable and gripping story Eric Greitens tells.

While going to college then grad school, Greitens spends his summers helping others in China, Bosnia, Rwanda, and Bolivia. His eyes are opened by the great need of others around the world, and how by helping those in need, he could not prevent people from being victime of ethnic cleansing and other violence. Therefore he becomes a warrior by joining the Navy Seals.

Greitens has a very gripping account of the Seal training and Hell Week, as well as some remarkable photos of it. He then relates how he used this training to serve and survive in Kenya, Thailand, Afghanistan, and Iraq. The entire book is gripping to read, and very remarkable in how much the author has done before he turned 30. It is quite refreshing to read of a life lived to serve and protect others.
63 of 70 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Inspiring Story - Great Book 5 April 2011
By G. Hearn - Published on
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
This is the story of someone who accomplished more by the time he was 28 than most people do in a lifetime. I had not read anything about the book, and just by the cover, I was expecting it to be "just another Iraq/Afghanistan story". . . but it's SO much more than that. Greitens, a smart, outgoing guy who is well-educated, has already been to suffering places like Rwanda and India before he started his SEAL training. Though he could have taken a much easier road, he decides to take-on the challenge of the U.S. military instead. Very inspiring book. It will leave you wanting to be a better person.

I HIGHLY recommend watching the series "Surviving the Cut" to have a better idea of what he went through during his training. Click the link below and you will see all six episodes, available for download through

Special Forces Diver
41 of 45 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A book for the uninterested 11 April 2011
By caradegato - Published on
I did not want to read this book. I didn't want to read about the US military, genocide and the general suffering of the millions of poor, abused, neglected and misplaced poor on the planet.

All of these issues are tough and uncomfortable, and it is so easy to just avoid thinking about them. I know there are no easy answers or solutions to these issues, and I know thinking about them will leave me feeling powerless, scared, angry or all three.

But a friend of mine gave me a copy of the book. And there was the suggestion that the book might offer me a way to become more informed and engaged on these topics without being left feeling impotent and miserable.

The Heart and the Fist delivered so much more than I could have imagined.

It's thought provoking, moving and incredibly inspiring. I know that I am not the same person for having seen the world through the author's eyes. And I am so grateful to him for sharing his extraordinary experiences and personal journey.
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