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Embrace the Suck, Revised and Expanded Edition, by Austin Bay

New York / Nashville: Post Hill Press Bombardier Books, 2017. Pp. 112. Illus., appends, links. $12.99 paper. ISBN: 1682614956.

A Layman�s Guide to Military Lingo

First published in 2007, Col. Bay�s dictionary of �Milspeak� � military jargon, technicalese, slang, and whatnot � drew its title from the modern soldier�s term, �the Suck�, for what Clausewitz called �friction�, that is, the inevitable dysfunctionalities and surprises � both great and small � that crop up in war that must be understood and accepted if the war fighters are to succeed.

In preparing this second edition, Bay has added a new introduction, which reviews post-2007 developments in military conflicts, and includes a number of sketches that illustrate equipment such as radios or flash glasses, as well as ideas such as �Road Toad�, a soldier assigned to road guard duty, and even a few maps.

Many new terms have been added to those in the original version. So we find �Mandatory Fun�, which refers to the inclusion of non-military activities, such as softball games, in the training schedule. There�s also �O Country�, referring to the officers� berthing spaces on a ship, �Shadowing�, the assignment of newly arrived personnel arrival to �shadow� the persons they are replacing, and �Line of Operation�, meaning, essentially, �this is the plan�. This last, �Line of Operation�, has actually been in use since before the Civil War, but with a very different meaning from that which it now holds. This reminds us that milspeak is ever evolving. So while some terms seem to hang around forever, such as �UXB� for unexploded bomb, or �REMF�, for rear echelon �MF�, whereas a senior officer during the Civil War was a �Big Bug�, and during the world wars �Brass�, the term today is more likely �Star�, �Flag�, or �High O�, and of course, the ordinary soldier went from �Doughboy� to �GI� to �Grunt� over the last century.

So Embrace the Suck is useful for someone � whether contemporary citizen or future historian -- seeking to understand what military personnel are talking about.


Note: Embrace the Suck is also available in several e-editions


Reviewer: A. A. Nofi   

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