This book is about advocating for change during a time when the country was divided culturally, politically, and generationally. The crisis in Vietnam was part of what drove Vaught’s efforts to extricate religion from the Army, as he believed that “compulsory chapel... was the fundamental flawed premise of West Point” and directly linked to a shift from civilian control of the military to the military-industrial complex. Unfortunately, the writing sometimes obscures the story’s purpose, with tangled sentences distracting from Vaught’s strong morals and cogent points, and ruminations on the American dream interrupting the central narrative.
The story works both as autobiography and as a record of its era, with substantial research and factual material enhancing Vaught’s recollections. Though the later chapters are more personal and hold less of the legal-thriller tension of the West Point section, readers will admire Vaught’s willingness to devote his life to his causes. This narrative of idealism and “standing up to fallible men” will inspire readers to hold fast to their principles and speak up for what they believe.
Takeaway: This memoir of holding the American military and government to high standards will please readers looking for books with strong moral and civic ideals.
Great for fans of Nathaniel Fick, James Bradley.
Design and typography: B-
Marketing copy: C