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The Tank Man's Son by Mark Bouman | Book Review

The Tank Man's Son by Mark Bouman

I don't think that I have ever included the back of the book / Amazon description in one of my reviews. I'm going to this time, as I picked this book to read based solely on it.  I wasn't disappointed at all with The Tank Man's Son by Mark Bouman, however I don't feel that what I based my selection of the book on was accurate.
In the tradition of The Glass Castle and Angela’s Ashes comes the most unforgettable memoir you’ll read this year!

What did it mean to be the Tank Man’s son? To grow up overwhelmed by my father’s presence and personality? It was as if I didn’t exist, as if I was just something else for my father to crush.”

So begins the haunting memoir of Mark Bouman as he recounts the events of his childhood at the hands of his larger-than-life, Neo-Nazi father in brilliant, startling detail. From adventure-filled days complete with real-life war games, artillery fire, and tank races to terror-filled nights marked by vicious tirades, brutal beatings, and psychological torture, Mark paints a chilling portrait of family life that is at once whimsical and horrific―all building to a shocking climax that challenges even the broadest boundaries of love and forgiveness.

An epic tale of redemption and reconciliation, The Tank Man’s Son is a literary tour de force that is sure to become an instant classic.
I'm not sure if I would call Mark's father a "Neo-Nazi."  The term brings to mind an entire life and style that is not unlike what is described in the book.  But it seemed to be a phase that Mark's nutty father went through - a bad one, yes - but it seemed to last a period of time.  I feel like, once a "Neo-Nazi," always a Neo-Nazi.  As far as the "brilliant, startling detail," No.  There was quite a bit of detail and I think that it's fantastically written and described to the best of the author's memory.  But the details are based only what a child saw, many years ago and rightly so.  I could have stood a little more personally, on how crazy his dad was.  That's me, though, but I understand- this is Mark's memoir; not his father's.

The real-life war-games and artillery fire happened… but they were by no means the most pertinent parts of the book.  Aside from the fact that Mark potentially has shrapnel logged in his ankle to this day, due to his dad's negligence at their makeshift gun range.  Maybe that's not pertinent, either, but it is a fact.

I'm not quite sure where the climax of the book occurs as there are ebbs and flows throughout the book.    For what I would consider the turning point - his mother finally deciding to leave and divorce his father - the manner in which that was portrayed is fairly anticlimactic.  It wasn't him pulling her out of her car by her hair and dragging her back up to their house while her three children watched.  Hell, it wasn't even that she knew and allowed that her children (at least the two boys) were being whipped with belts.  She basically just decided one day, that she was over it and told her husband she wanted a divorce.  There were no blow ups, even after dropping this bomb on him.

The last part of this book that I don't understand is how after a childhood filled with such turmoil, Mark could forgive his father.  Or how he could find someone else to marry him months (or what seems like months) after being divorced from Mark's mom.  And that his new wife didn't see or have any …issues… with him!  Again, this does not at ALL mean I didn't think it was wonderfully written and a very poignant story - it's just very hard for me to wrap my head around.  I can't say I would be so kind to a person that put me through hell on Earth.

Mark's story is ultimately a testimony to his faith, which is finds while he's in the Air Force.  It causes him to turn his life and thinking around, make friends for the first time, and finally meet and marry an amazing family.  As he would travel around the country (and world) speaking his testimony, I feel that this book is it, completely written out.  I would like to know a little more about how his siblings turned out as well, as they all handled their home-life differently and seemed to grow further apart as they got older.

Overall, this book, The Tank Man's Son by Mark Bouman, was a fantastic, well written book.  It's hard to wrap your head around the fact that these events actually occurred.  It was not at all how I thought it would play out, based on the description I was given- it was better.

This book was provided to me for free by Tyndale House Publishers in exchange for my open, honest review.

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  1. Hmm this sounds like an interesting read. Crazy the things that are real life, isn't it?? I will have to check it out!

  2. It really was! Stuff I couldn't imagine, for sure. Autobiographies that read as fiction novels have to be one of my favorite things.


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