Book Review: “Scars And Stripes” by Tim Kennedy & Nick Palmisciano

Scars and Stripes: An Unapologetically American Story of Fighting The Taliban, UFC Warriors, and Myself

By Tim Kennedy and Nick Palmisciano

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, this book should come with a WARNING label. Why? Because when you read it, it’s going to affect you in two profoundly different ways. First, it’s going to make you feel like a giant worthless turd. I know, this isn’t a good thing, but stay with me (and I apologize for making you read the word “turd”). The author(s) of this book have done so much cool and extreme stuff, that you, the reader, are going to find yourself really second-guessing a lot of your life decisions. This is especially so if you’re listening to the audiobook while you sit in your vanilla cubicle and sadly watch the geese meander across the office complex parking lot to crap in front of your car door. (They do this because they don’t respect you.) If you’re the right type of person, you’re going to get mad. Mad at yourself for underachieving. Mad for every time you’ve slept in, skipped a workout, or just taken the easy way out. (Still isn’t good, I know) The second thing this book will do is negate those first feelings of inadequacy by filling your motivational tanks to the brim (there we go, that’s better). After reading Scars and Stripes, you too will be inspired to go out and do great things, though I’d highly recommend against jumping into a UFC cage fight or catching a plane to Taliban-controlled Afghanistan without proper training first. 

So what’s this book about? This book is about Tim Kennedy. Don’t know Tim Kennedy? Well, come out from beneath that rock you’ve been under. Tim Kennedy might be comparable to a modern-day Kit Carson. The dude has been everywhere and done everything. He’s been an EMT, a firefighter, a policeman, a U.S. Army Special Forces operator, and a mixed martial arts warrior. He’s a veteran of the wars in both Iraq and Afghanistan, has been on numerous TV shows and at least one zombie movie, he’s hunted Nazis around the world, relentlessly pursued human traffickers, and even participated in a civilian-led initiative to extract Americans and other allies from Afghanistan during the country’s tragic 2021 collapse. He talks about all of it in this wild book. Through it all, Tim attributes his accomplishments to just being “too dumb to quit.,” as he replied to me in a recent Tweet. I appreciate this humble approach because I too am incredibly humble (read in Drax voice), but I think we all know there’s a little more to it than that. You don’t get to be one of America’s elite warriors if you’re a big dummy and you sure don’t get asked to hunt Nazis and human traffickers either. Don’t get me wrong, Tim’s definitely taken his fair share of traumatic blows to the head. As a UFC fighter, that’s just part of the deal, but one can’t help but assume there’s some kind of “Homer Simpson Syndrome” going on there (man, I hope at least some people get that reference) because Tim seems to have come out of it no worse for wear.  

One of the pieces I most appreciated about this book was Tim’s open discussion of his failures. Tim doesn’t shy away from them and, in most cases, he’s brutally honest about the mistakes he’s made along the way. But like all successful people, Tim seems to realize that these mistakes and failures have played just as big a role in shaping him, as any of his successes. There are two types of people in the world, those who dwell on their mistakes and let them cripple them, and those who learn from their mistakes, bare down, and drive on. 

Plain and simple, this book is about not giving up. About being relentless. We live in a world that constantly tempts us into a state of willful sedation. It’s too easy to give in to that next batch of streaming TV shows or to spend hours scrolling aimlessly through social media feeds, negatively training our brains with microdoses of dopamine, like dogs responding to treats. If we want to be anybody or anything worth remembering, we need to break free from those time eaters, that wasted existence. We need to go out and push ourselves to the point of discomfort and, once there, push past it, instead of retreating back. The one thing you won’t read in Scars and Stripes is about Tim spending days and weeks nursing his wounds or feeling sorry for himself or binge-watching the new season of Sex In The City or some garbage like that. He’s always in motion, building momentum to the next big thing. In a world of lethargic slugs, be a Tim Kennedy. 

You can pick up a copy of Scars and Stripes right here.