Fall In, Fall Out

The Dogface Years

Non-Fiction - Memoir
335 Pages
Reviewed on 06/11/2022
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    Book Review

Reviewed by Foluso Falaye for Readers' Favorite

When Joseph Crew learned that his twin brother Dick was sworn into the army on March 12, 1958, he deliberated whether to stay at home and keep his girlfriend or join Dick in the army and escape the crumbling situation at home. Seventeen-year-old Joseph chose the latter and joined the US Army at a time that American forces were deployed to defend Western Europe against Russian attacks during the Cold War. Fall In, Fall Out: The Dogface Years is Joseph Crew's story about his carefree days in the army, which apart from carrying out his official duties, were spent exploring his sensual desires, visiting bars, and getting into different kinds of trouble - with his army friends and brother as accomplices. The story offers an adventure-filled time from Joseph's past to life and includes the themes of love, peer pressure, brotherhood, suicide, war, prostitution, divorce, hope, and more.

Fall In, Fall Out took me back to my teenage days and the excitement of new experiences. Joseph's feeling of guilt regarding his sexual desires reminded me of my own struggles with similar issues as a teenager raised in a Christian home. Though it is set in a different time and place, I found the memoir quite relatable. Every part of the book is captivating! It kept me engaged throughout, with its expert mix of unpredictable, funny, and drama-filled events - from bar fights to court cases, clashes with superiors, and court-martial scares. Historically rich, highly descriptive, and electrifying, the book is perfect for readers who enjoy historical memoirs and narratives about young, spirited protagonists. This particular one will remind you to live, laugh, and experience life to the fullest.

Joe Wisinski

Fall In, Fall Out: The Dogface Years by Joseph Crew is a first-person account of a young man who joined the army in 1958. Crew was only 17 years old when he enlisted, along with his identical twin brother Richard. After basic training, they served in Germany at a time when post-WWII tensions with the then-Soviet Union were high, during what was called the Cold War. Crew writes about army life in great detail, covering the times when he, his brother, and their friends were on duty and when they were off duty. Because the army had recently become racially integrated, part of the book describes the relationship between soldiers of different races and backgrounds. As Crew says, his book contains accounts that include sexual experiences and the typical language that soldiers use in their barracks and among their fellows.

This book fascinated me from the first page because I’ve never served in the armed forces and I had little idea of what life in the service is like. Joseph Crew pulls no punches as he describes life in the army, both the good and the not-so-much-so. I was especially engrossed by Crew’s accounts of army service when the soldiers are not on official duty. Because Crew is a fine writer, I felt that I was right there with him as he described many of the leisure activities that off-duty personnel experience. I highly recommend Fall In, Fall Out to everyone, regardless of whether they ever served in the armed forces or not. Anyone who reads it will laugh at Crew’s self-deprecating humor, and sympathize with him when he writes about sad situations he endured. This is truly a superb book.

Rabia Tanveer

Fall In, Fall Out: The Dogface Years by Joseph Crew is a memoir that recounts the time when he and his twin brother were soldiers. Richard and Joseph wanted to enlist in the Air Force, but with their parents’ divorce right around the corner, the 17-year-old boys enlisted in the army. Their destination: The Third Armored Division right in the heart of Germany. They, along with the other men in the army, were required to protect Western Europe from the clutches of Russia. In between the terrifying war, Joseph and Richard grew up in the barracks and understood why the war could turn any boy into a man.

This memoir gives a rare yet very realistic look into the tough times that most able-bodied men had to go through in the 1960s. I only knew bits and pieces of that time because of Elvis Presley and nothing else. Fall In, Fall Out: The Dogface Years was a perfect reminder of how men laid down their lives in front of imminent danger to serve their country. Joseph and Richard were relatable. Life in the barracks was hard, and Joseph Crew showed that beautifully. Some scenes were a little hard to read because I could understand how tough the situation was for these young men. They didn’t have a high school diploma, they just wanted to be away from a bad situation at home, and instead, they found themselves in grave danger. The narrative style was transportive, and I felt like I was in the moment with Joseph. The story had my attention from the get-go, and I was focused on the boys’ growth, their tantrums, their dates, and even scares. This book was perfect!