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.
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
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.
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.
I’m Still Standing, From Captive U.S. Soldier to Free Citizen-My Journey Home by Shoshana Johnson with M.L. Doyle; 2010; $23.99; 276 pages; A Touchstone Book, New York, NY; 978-1-4165-5748-6; 956.704437092 J693i; checked out from Multnomah County Library, Midland; 3/13/14-3/15/14
What is the story? Shoshana Johnson served in the U.S. Army as a cook, within a support company of the Army. This is a company that is responsible for things like logistics, meal prep, vehicle and other of maintenance for other units. When her company deployed to Kuwait in 2003 she found herself with nothing to do, because all the soldiers were eating MRE (Meals Ready to Eat or more commonly known as Meals Rejected by Everyone) or being served by one of Dick Cheneys’ companies. So this is FuP #1, there was no reason for Shosana to be deployed with her company. When the company entered Iraq Shoshana was part of a 600 truck convoy, which got hopelessly strung out. There was supposed to be a Traffic Checkpoint at every important intersection on the route. FuP #2, the TCP was nowhere to be found at an important checkpoint so the last part of the convoy went into a city they never should have been in. When the convoy was attacked many of the units’ guns jammed due to a modification that the unit had ordered, FuP #3. Shoshana was one on five members of her unit taken captive, Jessica Lynch was among them although held separately. Shoshana was held for 21 days before being rescued by a unit of Marines, Oorah. During their time she and her comrades were treated with respected by some and badly by others. They were constantly moved from place to place in home and government facilities and traded among groups who treated them differently. After they were returned to the U.S. they were treated badly by some in their own Army and at the VA. Shoshana had been seriously wounded by gunshots before her capture and was treated for the injuries in a primitive manner by the Iraqis and had to undergo more surgeries. The pettiness that she was treated with by others in the Army drove her from the Army, the very same Army that she had been thinking of making a career of.
Did I like it? Yes, Shoshanas’ story reinforces my perception of the military, that many in the upper echelons of the military command structure have had their brains surgically removed and placed in their anal orifice. They don’t understand what is actually happening on the ground and are more concerned with covering their own buttocks as seen in this incident and the Pat Tillman incident.
Why did I pick it up? I am trying to learn more about the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan and am therefore reading books by people involved in the conflict.
What is with the title of the review? Shoshana should never have been deployed due to the fact that cooks weren’t needed at the time and that Standard Operating Procedure was not followed during the movement of the convoy. There are so many factors that contributed to the capture and death of the members of Shoshanas’ unit, most of them contributed by those who didn’t have boots on the ground.