“Fire in My Eyes is a testament to the extraordinary courage and unwavering dedication of the men and women serving in the US Armed Forces. Lieutenant Brad Snyder’s remarkable story is sure to captivate and inspire.” — Former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld
Written by Brad Snyder and Tom Sileo, Fire in My Eyes is more than just a book, it is an inspiration for anyone that has ever felt like they couldn’t do something. The book recounts how Snyder went from serving in Afghanistan to becoming a Paralympic gold medal swimmer in London (and, hopefully, in Rio!)
US Navy Lieutenant Brad Snyder was serving in Afghanistan with Seal Team Ten the night Osama Bin Laden was killed. However, the most important night of his life would come on Sept. 7, 2011, when an IED blast blinded him. Many men would have fallen into a funk after such an injury — but not Brad Snyder.
Snyder had grown up in Florida, competing in swim meets against, among other people, the infamous Ryan Lochte. His numbers had originally pushed him towards the Navy and a life of service. After being blinded, however, Snyder returned to the pool, determined to keep his life intact. Fire In My Eyes gives readers a glimpse into his life and his story, letting them see Snyder’s grit and unwavering determination to overcome life’s struggles.
Although the book at first seems like another war memoir, Fire In My Eyes sets itself apart by focusing not only on war, but on how a man has to rebuild his life afterwards. This civilian element — and the incredible story of how Snyder went from being blinded in late 2011 to winning Paralympic swimming gold in 2012 — is a nice, unique touch.
Fire In My Eyes, in touching upon Snyder’s post-war life, openly reveals the rollercoaster of emotions that Snyder had to ride. Snyder doesn’t shy away from the anger and self-doubt that he had at the time — his raw account of adjusting to his injury and his emotional state only make the eventual conclusion more poignant.
Snyder told First Lady Michelle Obama that “I am not going to let my blindness build a brick wall around me. I’d give my eyes one hundred times again to have the chance to do what I have done, and what I can still do.” That quote sums up the entire message of Fire In My Eyes — the message of perseverance, and leaving the past in the past where it belongs.
Every American should read this book, both for the story and for the messages of humility, grit, and patriotic service that it extolls from cover to cover.
Original CBC review by Nicole Eldred