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Reviewed by Stefan Vucak for Readers' Favorite
Sean Mitchell obtained his degree from Ohio State University in aerospace engineering, sponsored by the Air Force. Everything was paid for him, but when he got his degree, he had to complete a 90-day officer training course and serve five years in the Air Force. His time at Ohio State was a horror, and no one was more surprised than him when he actually graduated. He figured that Officer Training School would be a snap. That misguided perception was quickly dispelled by harsh reality when upperclassmen of a sadistic bent of mind started grinding him and his class through the OTS stress factory. He told himself that keeping his cool for 90 days would open the gates to an easy life. After the initial introductory pep talk about keeping the honor system, learning the regulations, passing the PT test, the real work started. As time went on, Sean never expected that OTS would involve doing menial tasks like cleaning the women’s showers, how to fold a duffle bag, or picking up dirty linen every morning on his floor. Perhaps those things were lessons how to ‘stand fast’ in the face of stupidity. After six weeks, his class became upperclassmen, and it was time to give something back to the new candidates.
Having read William H. LaBarge’s book Road to Gold, and what officer candidates go through at the U.S. naval aviator school in Pensacola, Florida, has given me some idea what the U.S. military machine does to young men in an attempt to turn them into responsible officers. I was therefore keen to see what Air Force candidates endure during a 90-day course to become an officer. Although a work of fiction, Perception is Reality reflects author Dave Ives’ experience at the Air Force Officer Training School (OTS) in early 1987. Mr. Ives doesn’t hold back when he highlights some apparently mindless practices at the OTS, which made me question the Air Force mindset responsible for setting up the curriculum, and those charged to enforce it. Although the book is irreverent and amusing, addressing some of the more serious activities would have balanced the book nicely. Nevertheless, Perception is Reality makes for a very entertaining read, which will leave readers shaking their heads.