The Writer: The Comprehensive Guide for Writing Awards Book Review

The purpose of this post is to write a book review for the book “The Writer: The Comprehensive Guide for Writing Awards” by Mark Gerecht.  As a quick disclaimer, I received a review copy of this book for free.  Although I’ve never met Mr. Gerecht personally, we do have a professional business relationship online.  However, I was in no way compensated to write this review or asked to say something specific.    This review is simply my opinion.

The Writer: The Comprehensive Guide for Writing Awards (now in its 10th anniversary edition) is a book designed to educate Army leaders at all ranks on how to write awards.  And that is a BIG deal.  One of the most important jobs of a leader is to recognize and develop their subordinates.   So, putting Soldiers in for awards is a very important part of EVERY leader’s job.

Unfortunately, many Army leaders (especially junior leaders) do not know how to write an award properly.  Very few Army leaders are ever counseled or mentored or trained on how to write awards, so this book plays a big role in helping fill that void.

the writer by mark gerechtThis is the most comprehensive, yet easy to follow guide for awards I have ever read.  It’s to the point, easy to understand, well organized and very comprehensive.  It’s not necessarily a book you will read page by page.  Instead, it is something you will refer to when you need specific information or specific examples about writing awards.  You can simply go the index, find what you are looking for, and then go to the section that covers that information.

Some of the things it covers include:

  • Award Preparation Checklist
  • Award Writing Overview Flowchart
  • Mind Mapping Your Award
  • Developing Your Award
  • Filling out the DA Form 638
  • Developing Your Award

More importantly, you will have immediate access to sample citations that you can use as a shell when writing your own awards.  This will save you lots of time and make life easier for you.   These citations include examples for leadership, special duty positions, staff positions, inspections/evaluations, recognition, deployment, volunteer and miscellaneous.  So whether you are in a combat zone, or doing peacetime operations, there are plenty of great examples you can use.

Furthermore, you will find narratives for:

  • Awards for Valor
  • Legion of Merit
  • Soldier’s Medal
  • Bronze Star Medal

Another thing I really enjoyed about the book is the word listing at the end of it.  Mark provides example adjectives, verbs and nouns that you can when writing awards for your own Soldiers.  This will help give you additional words to choose from, so all your awards don’t sound the same.

Here is a list of what each chapter covers:

  • CHAPTER 1: Award Preparation
  • CHAPTER 2: Opening Sentences for Citations
  • CHAPTER 3: Helping Sentences for Citations
  • CHAPTER 4: Closing Sentences for Citations
  • CHAPTER 5: Achievement Statements
  • CHAPTER 6: Sample Citations
  • CHAPTER 7: Narratives
  • CHAPTER 8: Word Listing

The book retails for just $19.95.  It is published by Mentor Enterprises, INC.  The book was first published in 2001 and is currently in its 3rd edition.  It features 128 pages.

Overall, I give the book 9 of 10 stars and consider it a must read for EVERY Army leader.  I believe that all Army leaders, from the newest NCO to the most senior Officer should have a copy of this book in their leader’s library.  I wish I would have had a copy of this book while I was serving.  It definitely would have saved me time and made life easier for me.

BOTTOM LINE: If you haven’t read the book or don’t own it, invest the $20 and buy it right now!  If you have subordinate leaders under your authority, tell them about the book and get them to buy a copy for themselves.  You will be glad that you did.

What are your thoughts?  If you’ve read “The Writer: The Comprehensive Guide for Writing Awards” I would love to hear from you.  What did you like or dislike about the book?  How did it help you?  Leave a comment below and let us know.

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3 thoughts on “The Writer: The Comprehensive Guide for Writing Awards Book Review”

  1. You know Chuck, I was just reading this review and also the one you did on the book: The Evaluator. In my opinion these books should be as important to Army Commanders as a dictionary and thesaurus is for me, a writer. I don’t read either of those books cover to cover, but they are opened frequently for reference. This is how these two books should be for Army Leaders. I must also mention that many of the books you have Chuck, also should be on leaders book shelves too.

  2. My grandfather received many awards during his military career and service in 3 wars. Awards are a source of pride and recognition. They go a long way in keeping soldiers motivated and giving them the confidence to continue their service knowing that, not only are they doing a good job, but it’s recognized and appreciated by those in command. This book is great tool for leaders who may not be good writers or communicators in that sense.

  3. As a published author and a freelance writer, i believe writing awards would be difficult for me. If it is difficult for an author, it would be even tougher for a non-writer. Army leaders have many responsibilities, it just makes great sense to make writing awards as easy as possible. The price is quite reasonable for a book that can help you do exactly that. If i were in a position to have to write awards, i would invest in this book immediately.

    Great review Chuck; I hope Army leaders will read this and take advantage of this time saving book.

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