Thursday, June 13, 2013

Collateral Kindness

Collateral Kindness
Author: Paul Holton
Published by Plain Sight Publishing, Springville, UT. 2013
159 pages

Book Review by Andrea Graff

    The media coverage of the war going in Iraq liked to focus on one thing, devastation. This was shown in all forms from homes being destroyed to lives being lost on both sides, leading many to believe that devastation is all that took place. This isn't true and Paul Holton wrote his book “Collateral Kindness” to let the world know that there was so much more going on that you didn't hear about in the news. Paul is passionate about the work that he started in Iraq and his passion really comes through as you read of his experiences overseas.
    Being in the military everything talked about when it comes to military stuff and being overseas makes sense to me and I can picture most of it in my head. However, I still think the jargon used was explained well and that you can still get a sense of what he is talking about. I also think there are some things that are over-explained that really had no importance to the book. 
    Paul was all about the individual people who had been living under Saddam’s regime and wanted them to be happy and treated right. He took it upon himself to make sure that every child he came across received a toy or stuffed animal and loved to see the happiness these small acts of kindness brought to their faces. 
    The book opens with his experience of being sent to Iraq and his experiences with interrogating the top officers who turned themselves in at the beginning of the war. You can tell right from the onset of the book that Paul really cared about the people of Iraq. He wanted them to know freedom and to be with their families and he didn’t rest until he saw it happen. He would go out of his way to help them reconnect with their families even when it was outside of his jurisdiction. All of the prisoners were given new T-shirts and jump suits, along with additional clothing whenever they needed it and much more. They had plenty of toiletries, medics came every morning to check on them. They were able to shower daily and had plenty of water. They were also served food that was common with what they would have eaten only a daily basis anyway. Paul also wrote that during their interrogations he never witnessed any physical abuse of the prisoners. 
    Paul was always trying to find others whom he could help. He would pick up someone he saw walking along the side of the road and gave them a lift to wherever they were going. He knew that by doing nice things for others it would only bring happiness to himself. Everyday when he and Major Price were done with their military duties they would transform to the “Good Luck Genies” going around trying to find others to help. 
    While in Iraq he received a box of toys and animals from his coworkers at FedEx. One day he saw a little girl on the opposite side of the barbed-wire fence and went to his box to get her a toy. The girl was so overcome with happiness and there was such an attitude of thankfulness that he knew his new mission. He immediately emailed home and asked for more toys. 
    As time went on toys kept coming in along with monetary donations and they were able to provide for a lot of the children. Problems arose and he explains how they were worked around. A non-profit 501c3 organization - Operation Give was set up “to get around an Army policy forbidding goods to be shipped that were intended to be given to another individual.” (Holton) He received a lot of help and gives credit to a lot of people back in the United States. To this day Operation Give is still going strong and children and families all over the world are being helped by the foundation.
    There’s a pretty good mixture to the book going back and forth between his duties in the military and the intelligence side of things to living in a war zone and mortars coming in at all hours of the day and night, and then back to the humanitarian side where they would find orphanages and schools to take supplies to give to the children. It tells a lot about his experiences interrogating the locals and really getting a chance to know them on a more personal level than most soldiers were able to. 
    A quote that I feel sums up his feelings on the humanitarian side of his experience is: “We can make a difference in another person’s life in any situation we find ourselves in, sometimes by the most seemingly insignificant acts of kindness. No matter where we were or where we went, there were so many opportunities tos hare something with others, making a lasting impression on everyone we touched. There was always a way to have a Good Luck Genie moment as we hustled around in our daily life, even when we thought we were too busy.” (Holton)


Holton, Paul. (2013). Collateral Kindness. Plain Sight Publishing: Springville, UT.

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