Book Review: Embrace the Suck: A Pocket Guide to Milspeak


by Austin Bay

New York: Pamphleteer Press. Pp. 72. Append, links. $4.00 paper. ISBN:0978-90285-0

“Milspeak” is one of those things that set military personnel apart from civilians. Every profession has its own slang, if you will, be it medicine, law, firefighting, or police, and so too does the military. The military’s slang, though, is one of the most unique. Military culture is based on shared sacrifice, dedication, and commitment to the country – and it is exclusive.

In Embrace the Suck, Austin Bay provides an informative and very entertaining guide to how the military talks, and thus, a window into this honorable culture. One can quickly learn what “dynamic truth” is, or what is means when gear (usually something very expensive) goes “back to the taxpayers” – hopefully not resulting in a Big Chicken Dinner. This slang covers everything from gear to people.

The glossary is arranged alphabetically, and even provides examples of how the terms are used. Some of the terms do involve strong language, and the reviewer must recommend that it be kept away from young children. There is even some slang from American allies such as the UK and Australia. That said, it is appropriate for those of high-school age who are considering a military career (it helps to learn the vocabulary), or for those who seek to better understand those who are in the military. Reporters and policymakers are two sets of people who particularly should have a copy.

To say that Austin Bay has hit a home run is a gross understatement. Ultimately, Embrace the Suck is a potentially valuable resource for those going into the military, those covering the military, those who seek to understand the military, and even those in the military. It is worth several times its price.

Embrace the Suck is available online at

Reviewer: Harold C. Hutchison    

Buy it at



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