Playing Soldier

Non-Fiction - Memoir
450 Pages
Reviewed on 12/03/2020
Buy on Amazon

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Author Biography

Like a lot of folks, I’ve been many things in my life, but one of the most prominent is that I’m a former sergeant with the Army National Guard. I also hold a Bachelor of Science in Professional/Technical Communication and a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing.

Nowadays, however; I’m a full-time author.

Playing Soldier was inspired by my first book, Lines in the Sand: An American Soldier's Personal Journey in Iraq which also won a Readers' Favorite Five-Star Award and is a transcription of the handwritten journals I kept during my tour of duty.

But while Lines in the Sand focuses entirely on my experiences during the Iraq War, Playing Soldier captures my lifetime journey of unlearning expectation, celebrating individuality, and ultimately the nourishment of self-acceptance that were once buried by cultural stamps of approval and societal convention. Braided with humor, courage, fear, despair, and hope, my unflinching, evocative narrative of passage into adulthood, the Iraq War, and beyond, speaks to anyone who has confronted adversity from without and grappled for their dreams from within.

Playing Soldier has won the 2021 IndieReader Discovery Award for Memoir. It was also a Finalist in the 2021 National Indie Excellence Awards for New Nonfiction, the Book Excellence Awards for Memoir, the Wishing Shelf Book Awards for Best Cover Design, the N.N. Light Book Awards for Memoir, and the Independent Author Network Book Award for Autobiography/Biography.

I live in New England.

    Book Review

Reviewed by K.C. Finn for Readers' Favorite

Playing Soldier is a work of non-fiction in the memoir and autobiographical sub-genres, and was written by author F. Scott Service. Please note that the work does contain explicit language, sexual references, and references to drugs and alcohol which makes it much more suitable to adult reading audiences. The book tells the story of the author’s life as he went from trying to emulate his father – a soldier in the Korean War – to the devastating life that awaits war veterans upon discharge. As he tries to stop the descent into PTSD and substance abuse, can he return to being the contented person he once was?

Author F. Scott Service offers a candid, raw, and highly emotional slice of the soul in this unforgettable and well-crafted work. Knowing very little about the Korean War and this specific viewpoint, I found the book to be quite challenging emotionally, but ultimately empathetic, inspiring, vivid, and very important to understand the powerful journey that the author went on. The adult content was well handled and though it might be potentially triggering to some, the issues are authentically penned and eye-opening for those who have ever known, experienced, or been with someone with mental health and/or substance abuse issues. Another feature that I thought was really striking was the solid connection to place and time, grounding us in snippets of reality whilst also taking us away on a deep psychological journey. Overall, I would highly recommend Playing Soldier for readers who are fans of truly moving memoirs and well-penned, authentic words.

Lesley Jones

In Playing Soldier by F. Scott Service, witnessing his parents' troubled relationship, F. Scott Service learned to bury his emotions, just like his parents, and escape into the world of the characters in literature and television. When he found his father's field jacket from the Korean war, he ignored his true calling to become a writer and enlisted in the army. From then on his life became a mission to seek the approval of his wife Rita and his parents. He avoided the nagging doubts of his own inner voice that he was living a lie. As he witnessed the horrors of the Iraq war, his marriage and life were slowly falling apart. Faced with brutal divorce proceedings, paranoia, rage, homelessness, and horrific flashbacks, he faced the choice to become who he was always meant to be or sink to the depths of despair. Follow one man's journey of self-discovery as he realizes his dreams and beliefs deserve to be heard and lived.

Playing Soldier by F. Scott Service is such a powerful and compelling read. The author definitely has a natural storytelling ability and brings every emotion and event to life. Every one of the characters is described in incredible detail; they literally jump from the page. I loved the analogies used throughout this memoir, they described his thought patterns so vividly. For example when describing his present situation, 'It’s all goin’ down the great toilet bowl of life and you’re caught in the whirlpool,' and his memories described as 'memories are snapshots I can learn from. They’re a pictorial mosaic tacked to the walls of my skull.' I also thought his description of the meaningless and destructive results of war to defend people who do not value his life or the country he defends was so poignant. You cannot help but evaluate your own life choices while reading this memoir and wonder if you are truly following your dreams or trying to seek the approval of others. A highly recommended read, especially for anyone trying to find clarity in their own lives.

Vincent Dublado

Playing Soldier by F. Scott Service is a memoir based on the author’s poignant experiences beginning when he was a child growing up in a troubled household where he finds solace in the power of make-believe to the turbulent episodes of his life as an enlisted soldier deployed to Iraq. One time when he is left at home and he slips into the world of make-believe pretending to be a sleuth on the prowl, he finds his father’s military field jacket—a materialized treasure for a child with a hyperactive imagination. Inspired to be like his father, Tintin, and Captain Haddock, he dreams of becoming part of the army to make his father proud and draw his mother’s attention. This he did in his adult years, but it all fell short of his expectations as it led to the turbulent years of his life as an adult. Everything culminates in a re-assessment of his existence as he stares at a Ruger GP100 offering him deliverance.

An erudite and engaging collection of memories and self-expression of one man’s journey in navigating his way through existential crises. Playing Soldier achieves balance in its factual aspects by delivering a character’s stream of consciousness from early innocence to the later point of his deterioration. You will be impressed by F. Scott Service’s handling of language and the manner in which he brings together his recollections with such vivid attention to detail. He finds therapy and absolution not down the barrel of a pistol, but by writing about the wickedness of reality, the eternal war on terrorism, and how the human heart is stranded in its quest for meaning. For that alone, this book merits your attention.