Ice Crusaders: A Memoir Fo Cold War and Cold Sport

Tom Wolf, Author
Tom Wolf, Author Roberts Rinehart Publishers $24.95 (256p) ISBN 978-1-57098-249-1
Reviewed on: 12/29/1997
Release date: 01/01/1999
Wolf makes a bid for his proverbial 15 minutes of fame with a maddening memoir that shows him to be a dedicated skier and an even more dedicated mountain-warrior wannabe. He appears to have spent a lot of time associating with veterans of the 10th Mountain Division and their WWII German and Austrian counterparts, and he uses his proximity to veterans as a starting point for his brief, uncritical excursions into the 10th Mountain's equally brief, but highly distinguished, combat performance. The vignettes drawn from Wolf's own extensive experiences as a skier and mountaineer are more effective than anything he has to say about warfare. Mesmerized by the concept of a fundamental brotherhood of mountain warriors, he romanticizes mountain combat as a tournament of sportsmen in arms. The most jarring notes, however, come from Wolf's tortured efforts to explain his Vietnam-era choices and behaviors. He opposed the war, married to escape the draft and considered requesting political asylum in Germany before eventually obtaining conscientious objector status and performing his alternative service as a hospital orderly. But Wolf's repeatedly asserted claim to veteran status comes across as a desire to have it both ways, an unacknowledged repudiation of his own decisions. His dismissal of post-traumatic stress disorder as a justification for self-pity is just the most outrageous instance of apparent macho posturing. (Feb.)
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