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Book Review: On Violence and Varietals by Rich Brown

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It’s no secret that Rich Brown is a very dear friend of mine. I’ve been on Rich & Mike Seeklander’s American Warrior Show many times. Rich and I co-hosted the Across The Peak Podcast. Rich has spent the night at my house, and I’ve spent the night at his. Don’t think for one second that would color my review of this book, though. You’ll notice that there aren’t very many book reviews on this blog – I have to LOVE a book to review it. And I absolutely LOVE On Violence and Varietals: Confessions of a Savage Somm by Rich Brown.

Full Disclosure: I paid for my copy of On Violence and Varietals out of my own pocket. Rich did ask me to review the book on Amazon, which I did. The decision to write a review here, on SwiftSilentDeadly was my choice and mine alone. I receive no financial kickbacks whatsoever, or any other incentives for the writing of this review. And that’s the whole truth. Oh, and one more thing: I have read this book twice. See how many other books I’ve read twice in the last 300 or so books I’ve read

On Violence and Varietals

I thought I knew Rich Brown. Rich and I met when he was in his mid-40s, retired from the Marine Corps, and already working with Mike Seeklander on AWS. I know Rich had a history – the Marine Corps, as a bouncer, as a cop… but I had no idea how compelling that history was! Rich sent me a digital copy of the book way back in October and I absolutely devoured it. Sitting down one night when I got home from work and had to force myself to go to bed at 1 AM. I finished in the next day.

Rich begins with the story of his childhood. There are some seminal events and situations that led him to become the man he is today: the violence he was subjected to, the constant familial instability, and the love of his life, Lisa Brown. Rich quickly joins the Marine Corps. For him, like me this was the best decision possible. It plucked him from rural Appalachia and put him on a path to the good life. Here’s a brief synopsis.

Marine Corps

Rich’s recounting of his Marine Corps career is hilarious. Though separated by a good ten years, our experiences were remarkably similar. Hazing had largely gone away (though I did get a Gold Wing ceremony), but Okinawa, the Philippines, the Driftwood…they were all still there in my day, too. Rich tells the stuff I’ve never read in another military bio – what happens in the guard tower, for instance. Rich also deployed to the Gulf War, and gives an incredibly interesting recounting of his time there.

Like me, Rich is soured on the Marine Corps by the time his enlistment is up. As he and I talked yesterday, the Corps fucks people over left and right. How much richer would they be in experience and talent were it not for the prevalent “needs of the Marine Corps” attitude? Rich moved on from the Marine Corps, then ultimately returned, but not before becoming a bouncer.

Bouncer & Cop

I absolutely loved the tales from Rich’s time as a bouncer. This is a slice of life about which I know absolutely nothing. Hearing stories of customers getting their heads bashed in was wildly entertaining. This is a career field I wish I’d pursued when I was a young man in my 20s.

I know Rich served in law enforcement, but I knew very little of that time. I was fun to learn more about him, but sad to learn about some of the problems with his agency. Sadly, in my job now I have quite a few friends in law enforcement and it sounds like little has changed, institutionally. Good people get self-selected out because of being surrounded by incompetents.

Why You Should Read On Violence & Varietals

Why should you read this book? What’s in it for you? First of all, it’s hilarious. Rich is a master storyteller and knows how to deliver a punchline. I also love his lists of “five types of people who become cops/bouncers/etc.” Second, this is an unvarnished look at the military and law enforcement. It’s not some puff-piece, prettied-up version of these professions, it’s the nitty-gritty, ground-level details. Finally, it’s a great chance to learn about a hell of a man. Rich is a dear friend, one of the inner circle, and there are very few humans about whom I would say that. Do yourself a favor and get to know this warrior. Pick up a copy of On Violence and Varietals: Confessions of a Savage Somm.

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