The Good Soldiers by David Finkel; 2009; $26.00; 287 pages; Sarah Crichton Books, New York, NY; 978-0-374-16573-4; 956.7044342F4999; checked out from Multnomah County Library, Woodstock; 4/17/14-4/20/14

David Finkel was embedded with the 2-16 Battalion in 2007 and 2008 as they fought in their own private corner of Iraq.  Each chapter begins with a quote from the Commander in Chief and then contrasts that with the reality of what was actually happening to the soldiers of the 2-16.  During the 15 months they were in Iraq 14 boys (average age 19) were killed and 75 were awarded the Purple Heart.  During this time they saw terrible things, they had terrible things done to them and they faced horror constantly.  They were trying to be morally centered when those they were fighting often chose not to be.  They were constantly asking themselves what is the definition of a good soldier.

Did I like it?  Yes it was one of the best books I have read on the war that shows the day to day life of the grunts on the ground was like.  It also showed the inanity of one side trying to follow the rules when the other side had no intention of it.


What is with the title of the review?  Each chapter begins with a quote from George W. Bush about the way things were going in Iraq, the reality for the grunts turned those quotes into Bushit

as with any collection

Fire and Forget, Short Stories from the Long War edited by Roy Scranton and Matt Gallagher; 2013; $15.99; 234 pages; Da Capo Press, Boston, MA; 978-0-306-82176-9; Short Stories; Checked out from Multnomah County Library, Gresham; 4/15/14-4/17/14

This is a collection of short fiction with the common theme of the war in Iraq.  These are mostly by veterans of the war and a military spouse, including one of the first woman to see combat in the United States military.  One of the stories is told in the style of the Choose Your Own Adventure books from the 80’s.  One of the stories was familiar as I had read it in Phil Klays’ Redeployment,  I had read books by several of the other authors during my recent reading of several books about the war in Iraq.


Did I like it?  Most of the stories were pretty good, however there were a couple that weren’t so good.

What is what with the title of the review?  Usually any collection of stories or of anything has its highs and lows and this collection definitely does.  Several of the stories are excellent but there are one or two which were not very good.

Leslie only made me cry once

Service, A Navy Seal at War by Marcus Luttrell with James D. Hornfischer; 2012; $27.99; 364 pages; Little, Brown and Company, New York, NY; 978-0-316-18536-3; 958.1047L974s; checked out from Multnomah County Library, Albina; 4/11/14-4/15/14

Marcus Luttrell is the author of Lone Survivor, a Navy Seal who was the Lone Survivor of a SEAL mission in Afghanistan.  He gives more details of the operation he survived and his re-entry into the SEAL community and his deployment back to Iraq.  He details the reasons that he and others serve their countries and tells the stories of other Special Forces and Special Operations teams.  He also talks about what it was like to have the camaraderie of the teams and what it was like to leave the teams.

Did I like it?  As the son of a vet and a vet myself there was much that I could relate to.  Some of the most intense times I have had were when I was in the Navy.  Even though  we weren’t in battle there is a certain feeling among the people you serve with.


What is with the title of the review?  Author and friend, Leslie Gould, in her book Garden of Dreams wrote a story that made me cry for 5 minutes.  However I felt like crying throughout this book and cried several times.

Patriotism is loving your country no matter what and your government when it deserves it.   Mark Twain


Black Flag, Hunter S. Thompson, Jello Biafra and Charles Bukowski

My War, Killing Time in Iraq by Colby Buzzell; 2005; $25.95; 354 pages; G.P. Putnam’s Sons, New York, NY; 0-399-15327-6; 956.70443B 992m; checked out from Multnomah County Library, Hillsdale; 4/9/14-4/11/14

At age 26 Colby Buzzell tries to enlist in the United States Marine Corp so he can go to war.  Unfortunately the Corp has reached their quota for that month so they send him on his way.  Waiting patiently outside the door to the Marines recruiting office is an Army recruited, who tells he can go right now and do what ever he wants.  Colby wants to be in the infantry and he gets his wish.  He recounts a truth that most vets know about recruiters, they lie.  After basic and his basic infantry training he gets sent to Fort Lewis to be part of a Stryker Brigade, which he is told will not be deploying.  Again they lied.  Colby is a chronic journaler, and when he discovers Blogger he begins to journal about his time in Iraq.  He never breaches operational security, but after a while the brass begin to ask him to leave out some details.  The more popular the blog becomes those higher up the chain of command begin to hear about and not wanting some of the truth to escape their slimy grasp they begin to make him submit his blog entries for review.  After a few times of having to bother those in the his immediate chain of command he decides to shut down the blog.  With one of his last post, an email from Jello Biafra, he infuriates the highest ups and is restricted to FOB.  He continues fighting alongside his fellow soldiers and journals by hand.  The story is a no holds barred account of his time in Iraq, fighting insurgents and living in a conex.

Did I like it?  Yes it was an unflinching look at the horrors of war and the bond that develops between soldiers.   It is an very well written account and is like just listening Colby shoot the shit with you and it is one of the first books that I have read about war that includes a reading list and a playlist.


What is with the title of the review?  The original title of Colbys’ blog was My War, Fear and Loathing in Iraq.  My War is a song by Black Flag, the Fear and Loathing part was in tribute to Hunter S. Thompson, Jello Biafra had a letter supporting Colby posted on the blog and Charles Bukowski is one of the authors favorite authors.  

I can’t describe it

The Long Walk, A Story of War and the Life That Follows by Brian Castner; 2012; $25.95; 222 pages; Doubleday, New York, NY; 978-0-385-53620-2; 956.70443 C3539L; checked out from Multnomah County Library, Hillsdale; 4/8/14-4/9/14

What is the story? Brian Castner is an Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) officer in Iraq who really gets into his job.  He lives for the adrenaline rush and excitement that comes with the job.  He details his deployment and his life after he returns.  It is a very moving account of his life.  It is hard to describe because it is so well written and different than anything I have ever experienced.

Did I like it?  Yes it was an exquisite read and very moving.


Why did I pick it up?  I have been reading memoirs of men and women involved in the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.  I have read many books by soldiers from WWII, Korea and Vietnam and am trying to understand what others have experienced.

What is with the title of the review?  It is a very moving account of life in war and the aftermath of the that.  I don’t know how to adequately describe the book.