Book Review: Marine vet Rich Brown’s ‘On Violence and Varietals: Confessions of a Savage Somm’
The memoir by Rich Brown, On Violence and Varietals: Confessions of a Savage Somm, details the fascinating journey from humble beginnings in his rural hometown to harrowing overseas adventures, courtesy of the Marine Corps.
Brown could have been content looking back on a respectable military enlistment as a grunt, but that was never really an option for a man who, in my opinion, could lay claim as a contender for the most interesting man in the world.
He has more than once been through many of the dangers this world has to offer and lived to tell the tales.
Aside from being a combat veteran of Operation Desert Shield/Desert Storm, Brown went on to spend years working as a bouncer in some infamously gritty bars and clubs, a law enforcement officer, regional manager for Disaster Preparedness and Government Operations for the American Red Cross and co-host of the American Warrior Show podcast.
I must add that he did all that in addition to retiring from the Marine Corps as a Chief Warrant Officer-3 in 2012 after 23 years of service.
While numerous accounts exist from officers on the ground during the first Gulf War, Brown’s book details what life was like from the lowly enlisted side. From having an angry Marine’s rifle pointed at him, to riding on top of an Amtrack in battle, to barbecuing on a Kuwaiti sewer grate, Brown’s rip-roaring adventure keeps the hits coming.
Much like a friend of mine who warned me he couldn’t put this book down, I read the entire book in less than 24 hours.
After bouncing at seedy bars, working as a corrections officer, and gutting out his time as a cop, Brown would discover that he had more to offer the Marine Corps. He is open and honest about his failures as much as he is about his successes, and it provides a refreshing break from the prevalent chest beating of some other military memoirs.
Just like his military service started and ended where it began at Parris Island, South Carolina, Brown ultimately returned to where his life’s journey started on his family’s Tennessee farm. He resides there to this day.
Brown’s witty and often humorous accounts are unique to his own experiences (hint: Philippines deployment) but, as a former Marine from a different generation, there is something still so relatable and accessible despite our experiences being so different.
Featured stories include: the mysterious dancing cowgirl, unholy crimes in Camp Lejeune, cruel Jamaican drug dealers, sinning sailors in Subic Bay, a murder on Gordon Street, riveting desert combat, and marauding Marines – just to name a few.
Those sizzling stories aside, if you are looking for a refreshing and entertaining new look at what life is like in the Marine Corps and law enforcement, this book will not disappoint.
On Violence and Varietals: Confessions of a Savage Somm is available for purchase through Amazon.
On Violence and Varietals is Rich Brown's coming-of-age memoir chronicling his journey from a chaotic childhood to war. In it, he recounts with complete candor his warrior's path from boyhood to Marine, Bouncer, Corrections Officer, and Police Officer. Though this reads like a journal of an unruly life set amid many a foreign and inhospitable place, it is also filled with Brown's engaging ability to find laughter, even when there is little to celebrate. In ironic, absorbing, and sometimes hilarious prose, he recounts his triumphs and tragedies of a life – fully lived.