HOME SCHOOL BOOK REVIEW
Book: Hero of Hacksaw Ridge: The Gripping True Story That Inspired The Movie
Author: Booton Herndon
Cover Illustrator: David Berthiaume
Publisher: Remnant Publications, 2016
ISBN-13: 978-1629131559 Hardcover
ISBN-10: 1629131555 Hardcover
ISBN-13: 978-1629131542 Paperback
ISBN-10: 1629131547 Paperback
Related website: http://www.remnantpublications.com
Language level: 1
(1=nothing objectionable; 2=common euphemisms and/or childish slang terms; 3=some cursing and/or profanity; 4=a lot of cursing and/or profanity; 5=obscenity and/or vulgarity)
Recommended reading level: Teens and adults
Rating: **** 4 stars (GOOD)
Reviewed by Wayne S. Walker
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Herndon, Booton. Hero of Hacksaw Ridge: The Gripping True Story That Inspired The Movie (published in 2016 by Remnant Publications Inc., 649 E. Chicago Rd., Coldwater, MI 49036). This book is subtitled “The Official Authorized Story of Desmond Doss, Abridged Version.” Desmond T. Doss was born in Lynchburg, VA, in 1919. His mother raised him as a devout Seventh-day Adventist and instilled Sabbath-keeping and nonviolence in his upbringing. At the outbreak of World War II, Doss entered military service, despite being offered a deferment for his shipyard work. He was sent to Fort Jackson in South Carolina for training with the reactivated 77th Infantry Division. Doss refused to kill an enemy soldier or even carry a weapon into combat because of his personal beliefs and even had written assurance from President Franklin Roosevelt and Chief of Staff of the Army George C. Marshall of his non-combatant, conscientious objector status. He consequently became a medic assigned to 2nd Platoon, B Company, 1st Battalion, 307th Infantry, 77th Infantry Division.
However, many of his fellow soldiers and even some of the officers made fun of him, called him names, and said that he was just a coward. One man even told him, “When we go into combat, Doss, you’re not comin’ back alive. I’m gonna shoot you myself.” Then came the battles for Guam, Leyte in the Philippines, and finally Okinawa. How did Doss react in combat? Did the men ever change their opinions about him? And what happened to Doss? Somebody gave me a copy of this book. It is a true story about real warfare, so there is much description of fighting, killing, and dying, though none of it is gratuitously graphic or gory. The biggest warning I would have is that there is a very heavy proselytization for the Seventh-day Adventist Church.
Of course, one does not have to agree with all of Doss’s Seventh-day Adventist beliefs or his pacifist position to appreciate his determination to stand by his convictions in spite of ridicule and his courage in the face of danger. Doss’s story was first told by Boonton in The Unlikeliest Hero: The Story of Desmond T. Doss, Conscientious Objector Who Won His Nation’s Highest Military Honor, originally published in 1967. He was then the subject of The Conscientious Objector, an award-winning documentary by Terry Benedict in 2004. The feature film Hacksaw Ridge, based on his life, was directed by Mel Gibson and was released nationwide in the U.S. on November 4, 2016. Redemption at Hacksaw Ridge (hardback) is a much expanded, re-edited edition of the original The Unlikeliest Hero, which went out of print. The new edition contains nearly three times as many pictures, a new Foreword, and Epilogue tracing Desmond’s life after the war and his recovery from wounds and tuberculosis. Hero at Hacksaw Ridge (paperback) has the same Hacksaw Ridge poster cover, but it is an abridged version.