Blowing Sandstorm by Horace Crenshaw Jr

Review by Shwetha H S

Blowing Sandstorm is a memoir by Lieutenant Colonel Horace Crenshaw Jr’s about his experiences while commanding an US Army Reserve Petroleum Unit of Operation Iraqi Freedom. Through this book, he narrates his experiences of building a good team out of a dysfunctional unit and leading them overseas.

Author has given details about his background so that readers can understand how he had led his life before and after going on war. From that, one understands his childhood is spent trying to impress his father and in turn impress the society in which he grew up. He wanted to prove that he can live up to his father’s reputation and society’s expectations. This scenario makes one sad about the competitive world, but then, that’s what the author wanted. He seems to have had a confusing phase in his childhood while moving from Alabama to Mississippi. One moment he wonders why they have to move and next moment he is willing to go. He was also easily influenced by others around him and often followed in others footsteps.

Atheists beware! Narration heavily relies on god. There is god in every other sentence. Perhaps “god is everywhere” is what the author believes. So much so that the reader will start wondering whether this is a book about Iraq war experiences or belief in god.

The author also has stated the obvious at many points making it look like it has been done deliberately to stretch. For example, the author writes “Research shows that the teams with the best results are usually those who report a high level of functioning on the six other components of the Rocket Model.” Isn’t it obvious that if a team is functioning at a higher level on so many components of a model, then that team will give out better results? He has explained the Rocket Model for team building in detail. But he has failed to relate it to his work and team in the narration.

It is mentioned often in the book about extra boost which pertains to the faith people close to him have in him and the motivation he gets from that. This shows what these people mean to the author, with them or without them in day-to-day life.

At some places, it feels like the author is more in conversation with himself than with the reader. He has not bothered to explain the acronyms and certain parts as if those have been copied from his military log. He should explain the military terminologies in layman language. Instead of explaining the Rocket Model in detail, he should have explained these technicalities.

It is not like the author has not explained anything in the book. He has explained about facing the sandstorms, working at temperatures enough to cook food, unhygienic conditions and environment waiting to infect people with deadly diseases. However maybe the narration, the author’s intentions as a leader are noble, to make this world better than how it was when he found it.

This book is not yet for everyone. People with military background who can understand the terminologies without explanation or those who are interested in every bit of the detail related to Iraq war can enjoy it. If the author manages to explain better in the next edition of his book, then maybe everybody can enjoy reading it.