Man of War Review, Booklist

Schroeder’s charming and hilarious memoir opens with a doozy—the writer and actor has chosen the Battle of Stalingrad as his first foray into the world of war reenactment. In the Colorado plains. In winter. On the Nazi side. Schroeder is as dedicated (period dress includes haircuts after all) as he is unprepared, but he soldiers on through reenactments spanning centuries, including a Roman siege, a civil war battle, a rowboat trip down the Hudson , and a slightly disturbing Vietnam War game. He even attempts to create his own historical reenactment, which involves a 26-mile walk through Los Angeles and a stuffed cat. In between his madcap accounts of working a real cannon and wearing a wool uniform in July, Schroeder still manages to portray the idiosyncratic participants of this niche culture in a sympathetic, even flattering way. From participating in a colonial-era funeral for the real death of reenactor, to gracefully bowing out of a nineteenth-century-style baptism, Schroeder chronicles his fellow war reenactors and their battles with respect and open-mindedness, despite an occasional grumble. Sarah Hunter

How to Break One’s Eardrum

Step One: Grow a hideously itchy beard.

Step Two: Pay your two-dollar entry fee to the Brooksville Raid, Florida’s largest Civil War reenactment.

Step Three: Dress in over-sized itchy woolen fatigues, a pair of old Campers and borrow a Kepi from a kind Yank. Take your position next to a rather corpulent infantrywoman who, like you, is new to the reenacting hobby. (And who, from this time forward, shall be known as Roseanne Barr.)

Step Four: Blithely go about volleying blanks with your fellow soldiers while Roseanne Barr mistakenly loads three packets of gunpowder down the barrel of her replica 1862 Enfield musket.

Step Five: On the “F” in “Fire!” pull the trigger of your musket, then as the crack of Roseanne Barr’s makeshift “cannon” knocks you and your fellow reenactors ten feet sideways, bend over, grab your ear and scream an expletive.

Step Six: Play dead and later shoot a video in which you narrate your demise (below at 1:15).

Coming this weekend, the 32nd annual Brooksville Raid, Florida’s largest Civil War reenactment.



Man of War Available For Pre-order Now!

I learned today that my book, Man of War, is now available for pre-order at Barnes & Noble, Indiebound, the fantastic Elliott Bay Book Company in Seattle, larger than life Powell’s in Portland, OR and my local SoCal fav, Vroman’s, in Pasadena. (It’s “available available” on May 24th, 2012 and can also be pre-ordered on Amazon.) I also learned that it’s being categorized under “Military-Strategy” and “Personal Memoirs.” Step aside Reminiscences by Douglas MacArthur.

Speaking of Vroman’s, last Sunday I braved all the last-minute holiday shoppers and bought a number of gifts there including Yiyun Li‘s The Vagrants. I read it a couple years ago and have since bought it for a couple friends. I can’t say I’m a big fan of the word “unflinching” as it seems to always pop up in reviews of, well, “unflinching” subject matter, but “unflinching” is exactly the type of portrait Li paints of late ’70’s China. I can’t remember the last time I read a book that made me gasp and cry, two things I don’t normally seek out in my entertainment. But this book shocked and saddened me-often-and for that and many other reasons I suggest you give it a read yourself.

Man of War

I’ve written a book titled Man of War: My Adventures in the World of Historical Reenactment. It’s released on May 24th, 2012, but can be pre-ordered on Amazon now. In it I reenact my way through 2,000 years of Western civilization, from Ancient Rome to Vietnam. In addition to the latter time periods, I don the uniforms and civvies of a Civil War soldier (Union and Confederate), a Polish Winged Hussar, a Revolutionary soldier, French and Indian War soldier, bateauman, Viking, Spanish friar and a Nazi. Yes, people reenact the Wehrmacht.

More to come in the following months.

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