Still Standing: The Story of SSG John Kriesel
John Kriesel as told to Jim Kosmo
Beaver’s Pond Press (2010)
Reviewed by Joseph Yurt for Reader Views (1/11)
Most American’s perceptions of life as an Army foot soldier in recent wars in the Middle East are based on shallow television news reports, newspaper and magazine snapshot stories, and a casualty count that is relatively low compared with previous wars. The result is false impressions of the continued patriotism, commitment, and hellish experiences that today’s soldiers share with their fallen brothers throughout American military history. Anyone who has such impressions will find them rocked to the core upon reading “Still Standing: The Story of SSG John Kriesel” as told to and penned by award-winning journalist Jim Kosmo.
The publisher proclaims that this is not just another war story, but rather the story of an ordinary young man from Minnesota who, after sustaining unthinkable injuries from the detonation of a roadside bomb in Iraq, overcomes extraordinary challenges with the help of a lot of medical and rehab personnel, friends and family. Ultimately, through the power of positive thinking, he emerges stronger and more in love with his country, his wife, his children, and with his own life.
Mr. Kosmo writes “In the end I would love to reveal John Kriesel’s magic formula for staying positive in the face of every incredible obstacle.” But his conclusion was that SSG Kriesel simply used the power of positive thinking. Yes, the same formula prescribed by Dr. Norman Vincent Peale in his 1952 book “The Power of Positive Thinking.” A quote in the book from John Kriesel typifies the positive attitude that guided his spirit from the time the reader first meets him at age 17. “If I can’t fight, I can serve. One thing I have learned is that when doors of opportunity get slammed in your face, whether by a bomb blast in Iraq, auto accident at home, loss of your job, death of a loved one, or any personal tragedy, new doors are waiting for you to push them open.”
Whether you can teach people positive thinking is debatable. But one thing for certain is that if Dr. Peale was still with us, he would highly recommend “Still Standing: The Story of SSG John Kriesel.”
Praise for “STILL STANDING: The Story of SSG John Kriesel”
WINNER OF 2011 READER VIEWS LITERARY AWARD
"No matter what your opinion of the war, you'll be blown away by Kriesel's story. You don't have to have served near Fallujah to know what Kriesel experienced. It's all here--and in mind-blowing detail."
Minneapolis Star Tribune, Nov. 3, 2010
“I have read Schwarzkopf and Tommy Franks books, this one is right up there with them. It should be required reading for all Americans, and especially High School Seniors. It is inspirational, serious and yet funny at times.”
Shirpunk “Heroes Lover” on Amazon.com July8, 2011
"I'm happy today because I was here last week for the presentation by Jim Kosmo and John Kriesel. It was the finest program I ever attended in over 30 years of St. Paul Rotary membership."
Bob Jones, DDS, past president St. Paul Rotary, Oct. 12, 2010
"It's hard to believe Kriesel would have survived if it hadn't been for the strength of his wife, who literally moved into Walter Reed Army Medical Center."
St. Paul Pioneer Press, Aug. 8, 2010
"Kriesel is something special. A gifted communicator who works as a marketing contractor for the Minnesota National Guard, he exudes commitment to public service and compassion for the vulnerable."
Minneapolis Star Tribune, Oct. 28, 2010
"Today, John inspires students, veterans and church groups at frequent public speaking engagements where he shares a vision of hope for anyone who encounters any form of personal crisis."
Soldiers Angels of Illinois, Aug. 5, 2010
"STILL STANDING is as much a story about the support of his wife and children, along with his Army buddies and military family, as it is about the tragic incident. He survived against the odds."
St. Peter Herald, Aug. 4, 2010
"My friend Brandon served 3 tours in Iraq and is having a very rough time now that he's home. I showed him some stories about John and he was very inspired. He said he now feels like there's hope for him to make it."
Heather Stewart, Facebook, Dec. 7, 2010
"Whether you can teach people positive thinking is debatable. But, one thing for certain is that if Dr. (Norman Vincent) Peale was still with us, he would highly recommend 'STILL STANDING: The Story of SSG John Kriesel.'
Joseph Yurt, Reader Views, Jan. 11, 2011
"STILL STANDING is a moving and impressive read about how even when all seems lost, hope can still win the day."
Midwest Book Review
“It was written in such an honest relaxed voice that more than once I had tears. I may not have agreed with the war; however, I now understand it through the eyes of one who served.”
Colleen Baldrica, author of “Tree Spirited Woman”