Willie, Si, Jase, Phil and the gang will be back for a fourth season of Duck Dynasty on A&E beginning on August 14, which will make all of us happy, happy happy! Also, Phil’s oldest son Alan will also be joining the cast this season.
To get you in the mood, here are book reviews of Willie and Phil’s books. And don’t forget Si’s upcoming book Si-cology 1: Tales and Wisdom from Duck Dynasty’s Favorite Uncle. The book comes out September 3, but I may hold out for the audiobook, read by Si himself. That will be released October 1. Here’s a look at the book cover:
The Duck Commander Family: How Faith, Family, and Ducks Built a Dynasty by Willie and Korie Robertson. Simon and Schuster. 272 pages. 2012. Audiobook read by Willie and Korie Robertson
Recently, we started watching the A&E reality series Duck Dynasty. The show is about the Robertson family and their Duck Commander business. Father Phil Robertson started making duck calls out of his home about 40 years ago, and the Duck Commander business has grown significantly over the years, especially since son Willie bought 50% of the business and took over as CEO in 2005.
In this book Willie and his wife Korie tell their story and the Duck Commander story. Each chapter begins with a Bible verse and each chapter also includes one of their recipes.
Willie tells us that in early days of his parent’s marriage his father Phil drank a lot and one time kicked his mother Kay and the children out of the house. He was later converted, and the Robertson’s faith plays a big part in this family.
Willie and Korie come from diverse backgrounds. Willie was a “redneck” country boy with little money growing up, while Korie is a self-proclaimed city girl from an affluent family. They talk about their parenting philosophies, for their children, including one that is adopted and also an extended member of their family, a former exchange student from Taiwan that came to live with them.
Willie tells about founding the companion company Buck Commander (deer hunting). He has partnered with several major league baseball players like Adam LaRoche and Chipper Jones.
Willie also tells us about some of the Duck Commander employees that we don’t know as much about.
This is an easy to read account of the Robertson family and the successful Duck and Buck Commander businesses, and how faith holds everything together.
Happy, Happy, Happy: My Life and Legacy as the Duck Commander by Phil Robertson with Mark Schlabach. Howard Books. 230 pages. 2013.
Recently, Tammy and I have gotten into Duck Dynasty, the reality show on A&E featuring the Robertson family. This book is written by the leader of the family, sixty-six year old Phil Robertson. Phil writes that what separates the Robertsons from a lot of other families is their faith in God and love for each other.
The book’s chapters are broken into rules. For example, the first rule is “Rule No. 1 for Living Happy, Happy, Happy Simplify Your Life (Throw Away Your Cell Phones and Computers, Yuppies)” It sounds light and fluffy, and at times it is, but Robertson definitely speaks his mind about important topics, such as the family and the state of our nation, in this autobiography.
He grew up in a little log cabin in the woods. He writes that he grew up in the 1950s, but his family lived like it was the 1850’s. He slept in the shed with his three older brothers. His younger brother, Silas, slept in the main room on the west end of the house. His older sister, Judy, also slept in that room. His youngest sister, Jan, was the baby of the family and slept in a crib next to his parents’ bed until she was old enough to sleep with Judy. His father and mother slept in a small middle room in the house.
He writes of sleepless cold winter nights and bathing in cold water because they didn’t have a hot water heater. Nearly everything they ate came from their land.
He learned to hunt and fish shortly after he learned to walk. He writes that kids in America today are overweight and lazy, and it’s their parents’ fault for letting it happen. Kids sit around playing video games and eating junk food all day, and when they’re not doing that, they’re texting on their cell phones.
He says that as a boy, living off the land influenced his outlook on life probably more than anything else and influenced many of his decisions. His time out in nature shaped the rest of his life, and it’s something he wanted to make sure his sons learned to enjoy. Whether it was hunting, fishing, or playing sports, his children were going to grow up outside. They weren’t going to be sitting on the couch inside.
Phil is married to “Miss Kay”. He was sixteen and she was fifteen when they were married. He was the high school football quarterback, and she was a cheerleader. They first started going together when she was in the ninth grade and he was in the tenth.
Phil writes that Kay learned how to cook from her grandmother. She can prepare anything from wild game to unbelievably good pies, biscuits, and just about anything else.
Phil played football at Louisiana Tech. He was quarterback for the Bulldogs from 1965 to 1967 and was the starter in 1966, throwing for more than three hundred yards against Southeastern Louisiana University. He writes that during preseason camp the next year, he looked up and saw a flock of geese flying over the practice field and thought to himself, “What am I doing out here?” He walked off the practice field and never went back.
The quarterback behind Phil on the depth chart was Terry Bradshaw, who was a lot more serious about football than Phil was. Bradshaw started the next three seasons at Louisiana Tech and was the number one pick in the 1970 NFL draft. He became the first quarterback to win four Super Bowl championships, with the Pittsburgh Steelers, and was selected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
After leaving college, Phil took a teaching job in Arkansas. He became a heavy drinker from age twenty-one until twenty-eight. He states that the only things he seemed to be worried about were how many ducks he could kill and when his next drink was coming. By then, he had a growing family at home. Sons Jase and Willie had been born, and Kay was at the end of her rope with Phil.
After Phil resigned from his teaching position (before the school board could fire him), he made one of the biggest mistakes of his life: he leased a honky-tonk in the middle of nowhere. He managed the place, worked the bar, cooked for the customers, and broke up occasional fights.
Kay worried about Phil, so she worked as a barmaid most nights to make sure Phil stayed out of trouble. After a fight in the bar, Phil took off, eventually landing a job working in the oil fields offshore in the Gulf of Mexico. In the meantime, Kay had to handle everything concerning the move back to Louisiana. For about the next year, she and Phil somehow endured, though their marriage was under tremendous strain.
Phil tells of throwing Kay and the boys out of the house and accusing Kay falsely of an affair. When he eventually asked if she would come back, she said it was contingent on him turning his life over to the Lord. He did so and was baptized.
After he was baptized, he attended regular church services three times a week. He also studied the Bible with someone or a group the other five nights of the week. He went back to teaching and worked for Ouachita Christian School, which had just opened in Ouachita Parish.
Then Kay found six and a half acres of land just off the Ouachita River at the mouth of Cypress Creek outside of West Monroe, Louisiana. Phil created a duck call which was named the Duck Commander. He sold $8,000 worth of Duck Commanders the first year and within a few years sales rose to $35,000. When he was able to get his duck calls into Walmart stores the sales really took off. Robertson has also been making hunting DVDs for more than two decades.
He writes that the Lord has blessed he and Kay with four healthy, obedient sons, each of whom grew up to become a godly man who loves his wife and children and shares God’s Word through his work with Duck Commander and in their church.
Phil states that his philosophy on discipline was very simple. He kept the rules few and far between. However, there was a code in the Robertson house: three licks was the standard punishment. It wasn’t ten licks or twenty licks for doing something wrong; it was always three: thump, thump, thump! It was a principle, and his boys always knew what their punishment would be if they stepped out of line.
He writes of Alan and Jep going through difficult times of alcohol and drugs before turning back to the Lord.
Phil turned Duck Commander over to Willie and his wife Korie a few years ago, with Willie as the company’s CEO.
Today Phil is not as involved in the day to day operations of Duck Commander. He does a lot of speaking engagements in which he preaches the gospel.
The book concludes with short sections in which Alan, Willie, Jep, Jase and Kay write about Phil.
I recommend this book for all who enjoy Duck Dynasty.