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Common Reading Experience to explore compassion and war

War: a timely, complex, and often difficult topic to tackle. Which is exactly why The Heart & the Fist, by Eric Greitens, is this year's choice for the Fort Lewis Common Reading Experience: because it asks hard questions and doesn't offer easy answers, and so inspires reflection, analysis, and discussion.

The Common Reading Experience program, now in its sixth year, gives every incoming freshman a free copy of that year's book selection at the Fall orientation. The book is then integrated into many courses, and is used as the basis for on-campus films, lectures, panel discussions, concerts, plays and more throughout the Fall. Each year's CRE book is also the topic of reading groups and events at the Durango Public Library, creating conversation between the campus and town.

"The goal is to provide a common intellectual experience for faculty, staff, students, and community alike," says CRE Coordinator Bridget Irish. "It's a meeting place for ideas, where you can hear a variety of opinions and perspectives. It also introduces freshmen into that world of ideas by providing opportunities to discuss the ideas in the book both inside and outside the classroom."

Watch Eric Greitens discuss his book and work on the Charlie Rose show.

In The Heart & the Fist, a New York Times best seller, author Eric Greitens renders the story of his leadership and service as humanitarian, soldier, and Navy SEAL officer. It also  explores his view of what can be accomplished when compassion and courage come together in meaningful service.

As a Navy SEAL, Greitens was deployed to Iraq, Afghanistan, the Horn of Africa, and Southeast Asia. He served as the commander of a Joint Special Operations Task Unit, commander of a Mark V Special Operations Craft Detachment, and as commander of an al Qaeda Targeting Cell. In 2011, the Association of the United States Navy named the much-decorated Greitens their Navy Reserve Officer of the Year.

After returning from Iraq, Greitens used his combat pay to found The Mission Continues, a non-profit organization that helps wounded and disabled veterans build new lives as citizen leaders. His work with the group also earned him the President’s Volunteer Service Award.

“One of our jobs at a liberal arts college is to help generate questions that do not have yes or no, black or white, answers. This book helps us do that,” says Irish. “Greitens explores issues to do with peace and war that we all need to grapple with. Also, here at Fort Lewis College we have many ways in which students can perform public service. As a humanitarian, Greitens know a great deal about this area and provides a unique and inspiring model of how to genuinely and effectively help people.”

Eric Greitens, author of The Heart and the Fist, will hold a lecture and booksigning at the Community Concert Hall on Sept. 27. He will also visit classes that day. More events will be announced prior to the Fall semester.

For more information, contact

Learn more about The Heart & the Fist.

Learn more about the Common Reading Experience.

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