Found something that he didn’t expect.

Lost in America, A Dead End Journey by Colby Buzzell; 2011; $24.99; 291 pages; Harper, New York, NY; 978-0-06-184135-4; 956.70443 B922L; checked out from Multnomah County Library, Midland;4/24/14-4/26/14

Colby Buzzell, is the author of My War and in this volume he tries to recreate Kerouacs’ On The Road.  Never having read On The Road I can’t make a comparison.  Colby is torn between staying on the road or returning to his wife and newborn son.  He stays in Detroit for a while and makes some friends, he explores what used to be a major city and today is one of the most derelict cities in the United States.  Just saw a Detroit suburb offering vacant lots for a dollar apiece today (5/1/14).  He encounters all types of interesting people as he travels across the country.  He says he is looking for America but what he is really looking for is himself.  As he encounters all kinds of people he makes a choice that will affect the rest of his life.

Did I like it?  It was a moving look at someone trying to put things in perspective, to figure out what his past meant, what he wanted his future to be.  It is well written and often brutally honest.


What is with the title of the review?  After the death of his mother and the birth of his son Colby Buzzell sets off on a drive across the United States looking for something.  He is not really sure what he is looking but I don’t he expected what he found.

Mohammed O’ Malley

Soft Spots, A Marine’s Memoir of Combat and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder by Clint Van Winkle; 2009; $14.99;213 pages; St. Martin’s Griffin, New York, NY; 978-0-312-60296-3; 956.70443 V2853s; checked out from Multnomah County Library, Central; 4/20/14-4/21/14

Clint Van Winkle combines his tour of duty in Iraq with his travails through the Veterans Administration and his life with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.  We see how the specific events of his tour in the war combine to contribute to his own PTSD, which wasn’t wanting to go hurt others or himself but were a feeling of rage, guilt and shame mixed together.  This is one of the best explanations I have seen of the effects of PTSD and the ineffectiveness of much of the Veterans Administrations Medical Departments.  He so effectively communicates that it is pretty close to walking alongside him.

Did I like it?  Yes it was very engrossing and compelling.  I often read more than I intended at a setting because it was so good.


What is with the title of the review?  While Van Winkle was on patrol one time they came across a light skinned red headed Iraqi child, whom they referred to as Mohammed O’Malley.  He stood out from all of those around him and I think sometime that is how vets feel about themselves, they are part of our society but they think they stand out.


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

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.


uneven terrain

redeployment by Phil Klay; 2014; $26.95; 291 pages; The Penguin Press, New York, NY; 978-1+59420-499-9; Short Stories; checked out from Multnomah County Library, Gresham; 3/25/14-3/28/14

What are the stories?  Multiple unconnected stories that all relate to the war in Iraq.  None of them share characters or anything else that connect them.  This was discouraging to me cause I thought that it was one story from the way it was cataloged.  The stories range from engaging the enemy to returning home in various degrees and types of pain.  None of them really stood out and some made no sense at all.

Did I like it?  No, at several points I was ready to just put it down and move on but since I had broken my rule 14, Always have two books with you, I didn’t have anything else to read so I finished it.


What is with the title of the review?  As with the terrain on the battlefield the stories in this book range to from okay to terrible.