Disarmed: Unconventional Lessons from the World’s Only One-Armed Special Forces Sharpshooter
Izzy Ezagui certainly has a story to tell: His is tailor-made for big-screen treatment and can also serve as inspirational reading for anyone in need of motivation.
The problem is that in his writing Ezagui too often comes across as that overly dramatic friend on Facebook who makes every minor inconvenience in life seems like the end of the world: “OMG, the restaurant overcooked my chicken! What a horrible day!” And that, of course, prompts histrionics from friends: “Oh no! Thoughts and prayers that your day will get better!”
Granted, Ezagui has real stuff to worry about — getting his arm blown off in a mortar attack while enlisted in 2009 in the Israel Defense Forces. So, while he’s worthy of thoughts and prayers, a writing approach that was less stream-of-consciousness would have better served readers.
Still, Disarmed is a worthy read because Ezagui is an extraordinary person. He effectively sets the tone early in the book with a tale of helping rescue a swimmer caught in an undertow. That’s an impressive feat for anyone, let along someone still rehabbing a severe injury.
Ezagui meanders back and forth telling his story, showcasing his humanity by bluntly addressing his fears and concerns. The tales of rehab are equally horrifying and illuminating, particularly when Ezagui gains both strength and empathy from assisting a roommate named Benny — a radio operator who has lost both his legs — who had soiled himself.
“So I sit with him while the nurses clean up. … ‘There’s nothing wrong with you, Benny. You’re a … hero, man. A flippin’ rock star. Don’t you forget that for a second. …’ In that moment, I’m not thinking about my own pain, my drug-addled brain, my troubles at home. … It’s hard to feel sorry for yourself with a missing arm when the guy beside you lost his legs and his ability to leave behind a legacy.”
Those are the kind of anecdotes that leave a lasting memory, not to mention inspiration to overcome obstacles of all sorts.