You Had to Be There

Gene Gorman

Publisher: Archway Pages: 244 Price: (paperback0 $17.99 ISBN: 9781480811119 Reviewed: January, 2015 Author Website: Visit »

In the preface to this memoir, Gene Gorman says it was only the constant urging of friends, family and others that motivated him to finish the book. The author responds by showering love and admiration upon his many family members, friends, fellow Marines, work colleagues and mentors in his story. While they will no doubt treasure the result, Gorman’s intense focus on his inner circle diminishes the story’s value to a wider audience.

From grandparents to grandchildren, Gorman provides copious information that will seem irrelevant to general readers. It’s an unnecessary bias, since the author has ample more interesting material: He saw serious action as a Marine sergeant in Vietnam, overcame alcoholism, and became a successful sales and management consultant, motivational speaker, and automobile dealer.

Gorman writes most vividly about his experiences in Vietnam in 1967. He was invalided out later that year, coming home burdened with panic attacks, phobias and other mental issues to add to his worsening alcohol problem. Drinking cost him his first marriage and several jobs. He lived on the street for a while and resorted to stealing alcohol before, with the help of mentors and a new relationship with God, he began turning his life around.

For much of the book, the 68-year-old author’s ego gets in the way of his larger story, giving credence to the quip: “The older I get, the better I was.” For example, he tells us he was one of the cool guys at school, good at sports, gutsy enough to stand up to a school bully, and always something of a ladies man, managing to lose his virginity at age 12!

Gorman’s boastful tone and staccato narrative style become frustrating, especially since this could have been a much better book. As the narrative unfolds, the sober, spiritual and successful author becomes much more humble and likeable. That’s great for his family — but unfortunately comes a little too late for the rest of us.

Also available in hardcover and ebook.

Author's Current Residence
Punta Gorda, Florida
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