Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Dust to Dust: A Memoir” as Want to Read:
Dust to Dust: A Memoir
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Dust to Dust: A Memoir

3.71  ·  Rating Details ·  321 Ratings  ·  85 Reviews
“A wonderful book, original in concept and stunningly written.”
—Ward Just

“Elegiac, funny, wistful, deep, and wonderfully human, Dust to Dust moved me to laughter and tears, sometimes simultaneously.”
—Karl Marlantes, bestselling author of Matterhorn and What It Is Like to Go to War

Tim O’Brien meets Annie Dillard in this remarkable memoir by debut author Benjamin Busch. Much
ebook, 320 pages
Published March 20th 2012 by Ecco (first published February 21st 2012)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Dust to Dust, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Dust to Dust

This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 1,007)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
"I knew very early that I was a solitary being. I longed for the elemental". That is how the prologue to this book begins. Two pages into this memoir, I was entranced. Busch has a style of writing that thrills me in a way that I cannot explain--baldly honest, clear eyed and bursting with the visual and tactile as well as profound emotion with a deep seated philosophy a constant undercurrent to the prose. He tells his story through the elements that have made the most impressions on him throughou ...more
Aug 05, 2012 Doug rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I finally had to give up on this one after struggling through about three-quarters of the book. The concept for the book is so interesting, and it's author has led such a rich and fascinating life, that I anticipated great things from this title. But there was something about the prose--the flat, repetitive, dead tone to it--that I just couldn't take anymore.

I liked meeting Benjamin Busch very much, and it was great to hear him read (short excerpts of) his work. In the end, though, I found the
Timothy Bazzett
Feb 26, 2012 Timothy Bazzett rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Benjamin Busch's memoir, DUST TO DUST, is a piece of work that is at once puzzling and moving. Puzzling because I wondered how a Vassar graduate who had majored in studio art could seem so easily conversant about things like soil and stone, metal and water, ash and bone - things one would normally associate with earth sciences, geology or archaeology. And moving because, by using these elements as primary symbols and vehicles for telling his life story, he touches too on the pain of extended fam ...more
Jul 21, 2012 Carol rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
A skillfully-written memoir by a Marine combat veteran who describes himself as a "solitary being." The author has organized his memoirs around themes reflecting substances in the natural environment such as soil, stone, arms, blood, and ash. An underlying theme of this book, in accordance with its Biblical title, is that men and all the objects they create eventually age, die, scatter, turn to fragments, and are forgotten. This underlying theme recurs in sharp contract to the author's ostensibl ...more
Katey Schultz
I spent the better part of 3 years reading nonfiction books about the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan in order to research for my own book (which is fictional) about war. But I also teach and love memoir, so I make a point to keep up with highly praised work by new American authors. Benjamin Busch's memoir Dust to Dust was one of the best reads for me last year, on so many levels. As a war writer, it opened up the quieter aspects of war that I had not yet pondered. As memoir instructor, it helped m ...more
May 20, 2012 Grady rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
'Attrition is the mission.'

There are memoirs and there a Memoirs - usually those relating life experiences come toward the end of life, providing a sage exploration of what has made existence of the reporter on the planet unique, just before finally closing the eyes in a terminal sleep. Some are written as confessions or as leaving clues for the obituary writer whose concern it is to sum up a life soon completely spent.

Benjamin Busch in DUST TO DUST writes more about life as it is currently mold
Lexie Graham
Jul 29, 2012 Lexie Graham rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This memoir is not chronological or linear but flows through the author's life in a series of elemental chapters - water, wood, bone, blood, ash. Each chapter circles through his life with reminiscences of youth, soldier, family, love and loss, traveling with ease from the rivers of his rural childhood to rivers of Iraq, from the ash of a fire during Marine training to the ashes of his parents. A beautifully written work from this author, actor, Marine, artist, son and parent.
Aug 15, 2012 Gloria rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Whoever writes back cover blurbs should be held to a higher accountability. Promising a cross between Tim O'Brien and Annie Dillard is, admittedly, a tall order. But if you're going to plop down those names, you'd better deliver.
Unfortunately, Mr. Busch didn't.
Clearly he's a thinking, observational man-- but those observations couldn't quite find their way from the stilted prose and off the page into my soul.
I always feel a little bad panning a book (knowing the work which goes into it), but I'm
Apr 18, 2012 David rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This memoir is one of the most beuatifully-written books I've read in a long time. It must be in the genes, since the author's late father was also an accomplished scribe. Busch is first and foremost an observer and his ruminations on ordinary things is extraordinary. Have I used up all the superlatives yet? Read it, and you'll come up with more.
Steven Gilbert
It could be because we're of the same generation and share similar stories of youth and growing up, or it could be our love and respect for nature, or experience with war, or the pain of losing a parent, but whatever the reason, I connected with this well-crafted memoir in a way that only something good can do.
Jan 21, 2013 Wayne rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Son of a novelist, well know actor, Iraq combat vet. Spare, beautiful prose I savored. Every page had me transfixed. Wonderful memoir.
Feb 20, 2014 J rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Picked up this book because the author was coming to my local library for a reading. However, due to a schedule conflict, I wasn’t ultimately able to attend the reading. I was excited that this was a local Michigan author, plus a Marine and actor to boot!

While there was nothing exactly wrong with the book, there also wasn’t anything that grabbed me or inspired me. I had trouble connecting with the author. Perhaps it was because his writing was poetically vague in parts. Perhaps it was because I
Rex Bradshaw
This is a worthy first effort. Although I remember seeing this book described as a war memoir, recollections of the Iraq War comprise a relatively minor part of the narrative. However, there is plenty to interest anyone who likes quality prose and serious reflection. Busch has a ruminative, soothing writing voice, and he knows how to pay attention to the details, too well, even. His scenes from a very active childhood are impressively rendered, but they do get repetitive by the last third of the ...more
Dec 21, 2014 Diane rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The author went to Vassar, majored in art, and became a Marine officer with two tours in Iraq – not someone who stereotypes easily. The book is called a memoir and is divided into 9 chapters - I would call them essays – with titles like Arms, Water, or Bone. When I began the book, it seemed you could read the essays as individual pieces; by the end I saw them as having beautiful cohesion and wholeness.

This is not a typical chronological memoir. Each chapter begins with a section describing his c
Adrienne Rush
Apr 07, 2012 Adrienne Rush rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I found this book to be profoundly moving and a remarkably unique memoir, quite different from anything else in the genre I’ve read before. It is not one chronological or linear narrative, spanning Busch’s life thus far in a straightforward arc. Instead, being the “elemental” person that he introduces himself as in the prologue, Busch fashions each chapter around a different element: wood, bone, stone, blood, metal, water, dust, and more. Each chapter then takes the shape of an ellipse of sorts— ...more
Jul 26, 2012 mc rated it it was amazing
I'm not sure if this is a five-star book, or if I read it at the right moment in my life, but the format, the content and the prose continue to resonate with me.

This memoir is written by a former U.S. Marine Corps officer (who later became an actor, filmmaker and writer) who divides the book into sections such as "Arms," "Wood," "Metal," "Water," and the like, filling the chapters with memories from childhood, from tours of duty, from the current day. There's a bit of a remove: though in many ca
Mar 02, 2013 Teresa rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poetic-books
The Ben Busch described on the Dust-to-Dust book jacket is a Marine who served two combat tours in Iraq. The Ben Busch described in the pages between the covers is a poet.

“The dust and sand moved relentlessly across the desert like a film of rough liquid being dragged by invisible rakes. Pointless and purposeful.”

His poetry is what settles into memory after the fighting stops.

“I was listening to dust. We were waiting to invade a land composed of it. The static coming over the radios sometimes
Ginger Williams
I really, really wanted to like this book. A memoir by a Vassar fine arts graduate who becomes a Marine officer, serves in Iraq and then becomes an actor on The Wire? Sounds like a fascinating story, right?

Well, actually, no. It was disappointing. It consisted mostly of wordy descriptions of things in nature, like stones and trees, which did not hold my attention..

The book left unanswered some basic questions like why he even joined the Marines. I didn't learn much about Mr. Busch but I guess I
Jun 29, 2012 John rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is the first memoir I ever read that I could relate to. A "solitary being" drawn to the elemental; what you can touch, feel, manipulate, construct, breath, and battle. Dust. Those looking for a memoir of human interaction and gab, where the physical is some soulless prop, should look elsewhere. This book finds substance in the "elements"; our interaction with them and contemplation of them which can shine a light on life and its impermanance. This will appeal to the engineer, craftsman, geo ...more
Jack Gober
Jul 15, 2012 Jack Gober rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Best book of 2012 (at least so far). Busch is the son of novelist Frederick Busch ("The Night Inspector")and an actor who appeared on "The Wire". He has produced a memoir/meditation that meanders and sometimes circles like a stream from his boyhood wandering the woods of upstate New York, to his studies at Vassar, and his two tours as a Marine officer in Iraq. As the son of a novelist/academic father and a librarian mother, Busch seemed to find shelter from their bookishness in the forests and f ...more
Abigail Goots
Jan 08, 2016 Abigail Goots rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book was about a boy named Benjamin Busch. He loved to go outside and act like he was in a war, and he would fight all the bad guys. Later in his life he was an officer in the marines, he served many tours in iraq. While being in the military he would look back at his child hood and how he used to do similar things. Like one time he was chooping down a tree and he said it was much better to chop it down than it was to saw it down because, chopping is more like killing. Busch's dad eventuall ...more
Wes F
May 25, 2015 Wes F rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Can't remember how I even heard about this book--and then why I bought the Kindle version. But it was a thoroughly enjoyable read, though not what you would expect from an Iraq war vet who was a Marine. Well, Busch is no ordinary Marine--he is a graduate of Vassar and came out of it an officer. He's also an actor and film-maker. His Dad was a writer and I'd say some of his talent was passed on through his genes.

Just check these few short acclamations on Busch's book--and you'll probably want to
Aug 15, 2014 Clifford rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
You may know Benjamin Busch as an actor on The Wire and other television programs and movies. I’ve never seen The Wire—no TV, no cable, no satellite—so I haven’t seen his acting work. I know him because we’re Facebook friends, although I’m not sure how that came about. And I’ve known of him for a long time, since I read his father’s essay in Harper’s about Ben’s military service. You see, I was a fan of the fiction of Frederick Busch, Ben’s father. The elder Busch, who died suddenly in 2006, was ...more
Jeff Larsen
Feb 27, 2013 Jeff Larsen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Benjamin Busch's poetic memoir is wonderful. After hearing him read excerpts in Grand Rapids two weeks ago, I bought Dust to Dust and re-discovered my own childhood through Busch's heartfelt description of his youth and the connections to his adult life.
Jul 16, 2012 Alexandra rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"Dust to Dust" is a wonderful read. A moving mediation on life, death and the experiences of a combat marine/actor/author/photographer. I enjoyed every page and recommend it to all of my friends.
Richard Alan
Feb 27, 2013 Richard Alan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Dust to Dust is the most gripping novel I have read since Hemmingway's Old Man and the Sea. Wonderful ! A very Human Document.
Apr 21, 2012 Deb rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I read this book...twice. This is a first for me. Buy it. I promise you won't be disappointed. A literary gem.
Adam Wahlberg
Jan 12, 2013 Adam Wahlberg rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Want to know about war and its aftereffects? Read this. Hauntng. Hats off to Busch for writing it.
Jun 28, 2013 Jason rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
One of the most necessary books I've read in a very long time.
Melissa Seitz
Mar 16, 2013 Melissa Seitz rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Moving. Beautiful writing. I loved this book.
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 33 34 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • The Scientists: A Family Romance
  • Love My Rifle More than You: Young and Female in the U.S. Army
  • Speaking Truth to Power
  • The World of a Few Minutes Ago
  • Against All Odds: My Life of Hardship, Fast Breaks, and Second Chances
  • Panther Baby: A Life of Rebellion and Reinvention
  • The Long Walk: A Story of War and the Life That Follows
  • Crash Into Me: A Survivor's Search for Justice
  • Next Stop: A Memoir
  • We Meant Well: How I Helped Lose the Battle for the Hearts and Minds of the Iraqi People
  • A Geography of Blood: Unearthing Memory from a Prairie Landscape
  • Reluctant Genius: The Passionate Life and Inventive Mind of Alexander Graham Bell
  • Guantanamo: My Journey
  • Fixing My Gaze: A Scientist's Journey into Seeing in Three Dimensions
  • The Cure for Anything Is Salt Water: How I Threw My Life Overboard and Found Happiness at Sea
  • My Year Inside Radical Islam: A Memoir
  • Catherine of Siena
  • My Life as a Foreign Country: A Memoir
Benjamin Busch is an actor, writer, director and photographer. He served 16 years as an infantry and light armored reconnaissance officer in the United States Marine Corps, deploying to Iraq in 2003 and 2005. As an actor he is best know for his portrayal of Officer Anthony Colicchio in the HBO series The Wire, and he is the writer/director of the film, BRIGHT. He is the author of a memoir, Dust to ...more
More about Benjamin Busch...

Share This Book