When I first placed Fortitude in front of me, I set expectations to convince myself I’d be satisfied with it. Candidly speaking, I did not anticipate what I ultimately read.
I speculated that Representative Crenshaw would lament the radicalism of the American political left. I expected him to recount his career in Congress. Both assumptions proved incorrect. On the contrary, these subjects constituted a small fraction of the book. Crenshaw’s clear objective in his writing was not to outline his ideology, rather, the congressman emphasizes what he believes to be intrinsic to the preservation of American society: for us to embrace fortitude and a sense of perspective.
In the months prior to my examination of Dan Crenshaw’s work, I read and listened to commentary on his hotly-debated legislation and social issues. I learned that the Navy SEAL lost his right eye and nearly went blind in the left. An improvised explosive device detonated a mere few feet in front of him.
I learned that Crenshaw amassed a significant social media following after controversial comments regarding his appearance by Saturday Night Live’s Pete Davidson in November of 2018. Crenshaw accepted Davidson’s apology for the remarks and traded barbs with him on the following week’s edition of the program.
At the start of the 244-page book, the freshman member of the House details the pain he endured following the explosion which led to the loss of his right eye. Crenshaw documents his endurance of multiple months of blindness and hallucinations due to his injuries from the blast on June 15, 2012. This incident proved fatal for Crenshaw’s Afghan interpreter and friend, Raqman, who succumbed to his injuries. Following surgery on his left eye, Crenshaw was forced to lay on his stomach face-down for six weeks to prevent his retina from detaching. This would have resulted in permanent blindness. He expressed gratitude for his then-fiancé Tara and relatives for sticking by him in that difficult time.
This firsthand account of Representative Crenshaw’s suffering in service to the United States is just the first of the book’s ten chapters. The Texas native goes on to discuss his two sessions at BUD/S, the training program for Navy SEALs. The first of which ended abruptly as a result of a fractured left tibia during “Hell Week.” Crenshaw touches more extensively on his exchange with Pete Davidson on the set of Saturday Night Live. He alleges the studio reeked with the scent of marijuana due to the presence of Lil Wayne and his crew. Moreover, he incorporates some touching and tear-jerking anecdotes that detail consequential moments of his upbringing.
All of these stories serve to support Crenshaw’s central contention: that it is imperative to exhibit fortitude through both physical and psychological hardships.
In Chapter 4: “Be Still,” Crenshaw offers an antidote to what Jonathan Haidt refers to as “the coddling of the American mind.” Citing Haidt, Crenshaw posits that millennials and members of Generation Z, in particular, tend to have difficulty encountering a differing opinion or grappling with an unwelcome situation. Crenshaw argues in Chapter 4 that while emotions are certainly natural, Americans, particularly in these age demographics, should make a conscious attempt to embrace the concept of “being still.” Through a mindset that isn’t rooted in a craving for outrage, Crenshaw asserts, one will be able to think and act more intelligently.
Crenshaw summarizes his central contentions of the novel in the final chapter, “The Story of America.” Crenshaw raises the arguments of 20th-century thinkers Herbert Marcuse and Howard Zinn. Both of them postulated that America is a nation that is fundamentally oppressive. Crenshaw rejects this suggestion, maintaining that while injustices in the United States certainly continue to exist; many of these are “perceived” and can be largely overcome by the improvement of individual character.
Representative Crenshaw’s work was a page-turner. I would not consider myself a bookworm by any stretch of the imagination. However, I finished “Fortitude” within 18 hours of starting it. The book offers a deeper look into Dan Crenshaw’s career as a Navy SEAL and public servant, as well as valuable life lessons for younger Americans.
Fortitude is an excellent read, and I would highly recommend it.
The views expressed in this article are the opinion of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Lone Conservative staff.