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Tuesday, February 26, 2013

The Phony Marine: A Novel by Jim Lehrer

Published in 2006 by Random House

Jim Lehrer, best known as the host of PBS's NewsHour is also an author of fiction (and a former Marine). In this briskly-paced short book Lehrer introduces us to Hugo Marder, a clothing salesman at a high-end men's store. Hugo has lived an utterly unexceptional life and we join him as he is perusing eBay looking for cuff links to add to his collection. Yes, this is a man who collects cuff links - he is that boring.

The Silver Star
But, that night Hugo notes that someone is selling a Silver Star medal that was awarded to a Marine in Vietnam and he buys it. The Silver Star is only given for bravery in battle. This is no lightweight award and people who have not won it should not wear it. Hugo gets the Silver Star and on a lark he wears it one evening. He enjoys the attention he receives and begins to learn how to act and look more like a former Marine so that he can assume this identity.

Interestingly, along the way Hugo does change. He acts more assertive, he actually lives up to the heroic personae he has assumed - but, does that justify the fraud? Also, what happens if someone discovers what he is doing? Also, who is really what they portray themselves to be? Don't we all put up false fronts from time to time?

This book asks all of these questions and is a surprisingly enjoyable read.

I rate this book 4 out of 5 stars and it can be found on Amazon.com here: The Phony Marine: A Novel.

Reviewed on February 26, 2013.

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