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Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk

3.83  ·  Rating Details  ·  19,703 Ratings  ·  2,688 Reviews
Billy Lynn's Long Half-Time Walk is a razor-sharp satire set in Texas during America's war in Iraq. It explores the gaping national disconnect between the war at home and the war abroad.

Ben Fountain’s remarkable debut novel follows the surviving members of the heroic Bravo Squad through one exhausting stop in their media-intensive "Victory Tour" at Texas Stadium, football
Hardcover, 307 pages
Published May 1st 2012 by Ecco (first published 2012)
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Beautiful Ruins by Jess WalterThe Round House by Louise ErdrichBring Up the Bodies by Hilary MantelBehind the Beautiful Forevers by Katherine BooThis Is How You Lose Her by Junot Díaz
New York Times 100 Notable Books of 2012
6th out of 100 books — 490 voters
The Fault in Our Stars by John GreenGone Girl by Gillian FlynnWhere'd You Go, Bernadette by Maria SempleThe Round House by Louise ErdrichBilly Lynn's Long Halftime Walk by Ben Fountain
2013 Tournament of Books
5th out of 18 books — 146 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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It’s probably a bad idea for the US military to allow the troops overseas to get the news from back home. I have this fear that someday the service men and women in places like Iraq and Afghanistan will finally snap after seeing the people they’ve pledged to defend are less interested in what they’re doing than TV reality shows and celebrity gossip. If the military ever decides that the pack of assholes back in America isn’t worth fighting and dying for, we could find all that hardware aiming ba ...more
Will Byrnes
Mar 01, 2013 Will Byrnes rated it it was amazing
UPDATE - 3/1/13 - at bottom

It is early in the latest Iraq war. SPC Billy Lynn, a 19-year-old, silver-star-recipient and bona fide war hero, is about to be honored at the Dallas Cowboys’ Thanksgiving home game, along with seven other members of Bravo company, for bravery in a battle that had the benefit of a Fox news crew with plenty of film. He is also the window through which we get a hard look at the reality of millennial America. That Ben Fountain succeeds so well in making Billy work both as
Well, that didn't take very long. Mounting frustration, a couple of critical (if unusual) goodreads reviews, and that's it -- I feel validated now, I'm quitting.

I wanted to blame the audio format, but that doesn't usually get in the way when I'm truly enjoying a book. I could say it's because it's a guy book, but I've liked some guy books in my day -- admittedly they were a harder sell, but not impossible for me to enjoy.

I guess the book just felt repetitive to me. Not much of a plot; rather a s
Mar 01, 2013 Steve rated it really liked it
It’s an old observation, but true nonetheless: Nineteen is a difficult age – old enough to get shot for your country, but not to drink beer. In Billy Lynn’s case, it’s an age where there’s more than that to sort out, but with little training to draw on to get it all figured. We’re pulling for you, though, Billy.

What SPC William Lynn was trained for was life in Bravo Company, ground troops in Iraq who showed exceptional bravery under fire. Footage of their valor found its way into American living
Jul 29, 2012 KC rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction
A brilliant exploration of the dissonance and disconnect between military life and civilian life in a time of war. I can't recall the last time I've read a novel that skewers the American public so effectively and relentlessly.

This is the right novel for the last ten years of American wars, perhaps THE novel for the War on Terror/GWOT/Long War/whatever the Pentagon is calling it these days. There are several excellent memoirs and non-fictional accounts of life on the modern battlefield ("The Fo
Oct 26, 2012 Hilary rated it did not like it
Shelves: shortlisted
There are few things less enjoyable than poorly-written satire, and there are few time periods less interesting to set a book in than the very recent (past decade or so) past. This book manages to combine both of these for a result that’s just as crappy as you’d imagine. It’s satire with all the subtlety of “Goofus and Gallant.”

The plot is simple: a small band of soldiers from Bravo squad (which is a misnomer, but that just shows the MEDIA DOESN’T UNDERSTAND THE MILITARY!) who responded heroica
May 28, 2012 Jill rated it it was amazing
It is, perhaps, a fortuitous accident that I turned the last pages of Ben Fountain’s absolutely brilliant novel during Memorial Day…a day when rhetoric about courage, support, sacrifice, and patriotism overflows.

Billy Lynn – the eponymous hero of this book – is a genuine American hero. He and his fellow Bravo Squad members decimated an insurgency – caught on film by an embedded Fox News crew -- and became overnight sensations in a nation starved for good news about Iraq. They are brought home fo
Adrian White
May 12, 2012 Adrian White rated it it was amazing
If you saw and enjoyed the compelling TV series Generation Kill, then I think you will love this book. There are many outrageous claims made for the book on the back of the proof copy I read and, I have to say, they all stand up. This is classic literature that will stand the test of time; classic in the sense that it joins a long list of stories about the damage done to young men by a foreign war and the difficulties they face in re-adapting to their homeland. It is also a damning, lacerating d ...more
Feb 11, 2013 Emily rated it it was amazing
"THE DALLAS COWBOYS WELCOME HEROS OF AL-ANSAKAR CANAL!!!!!!!" is both a quote from, and a summary of, this literary novel that I loved and admired (keep this in mind the other 95% of the time, when I am petulantly disliking literary fiction).

The entire book, with the exception of one flashback, takes place during a single Super Bowl Sunday afternoon, when the Dallas Cowboys are playing host to eight Army grunts home on a cockeyed sort of "victory tour" after a fire-fight in which Billy's best f
Feb 01, 2013 Melki rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: war, fiction
"It is sort of weird being honored for the worst day of your life."
Billy Lynn

Bravo Squad, a group of young Iraq war heroes, is traveling the country on a publicity tour for the Army. They're to be put on display during the halftime show at a Dallas Cowboy's game on Thanksgiving Day. Wherever they go, they are greeted with patriotic platitudes, clapped on the back and wished well by a fawning public made up of Fox News viewers who want to thank them for defending faith, flag, and America's heartl
Jun 04, 2012 Matthew rated it it was ok
Wow. Five stars? Really? For this? I'm not trying to be a dick. I'm not trying to patronize. I don't mean, even, to be overly critical. It's just that there is no way that this book is a five star book. Think about it, people who have read it. Do you really mean to say that this book deserves THE BEST SCORE POSSIBLE? Are you willing to say that yes, this book deserves to be placed among the top eschelons of eternity? I mean, I'm just asking. I'm not saying that it's not a five star idea or that ...more
Jan 24, 2016 Alex rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2014
It feels weirdly unpatriotic to like the Iraq War book written by a non-vet better than the one written by a guy who was there, but there it is: I like this better than The Yellow Birds, not that that's a bad book, but it's a little bit written at times. This one is both less forced and more engrossing.

It takes place over the course of a single football game, as Billy Lynn and his squad of war heroes are paraded around like propaganda monkeys. Flashbacks give you the gist of the engagement that
Khaled Hosseini
Dec 14, 2013 Khaled Hosseini rated it it was amazing
Absolutely loved this book.
Danielle McClellan
Jan 23, 2013 Danielle McClellan rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Danielle by: Martin McClellan
Shelves: favorites
My absolutely favorite book of the year. I am disappointed that it did not receive the National Book Award, for which it was a finalist. Paul Fussell once said (and this is a fairly loose quote from memory) that it was impossible to speak clearly about war because the true facts of war are so gruesome and ghastly that people will turn from the page in horror unless you use a variety of literary devices to soften the blow.

Ben Fountain has found a dark, funny route into the big conversation and h
I’d happily fall in love with a book that was trying to capture and examine our contemporary reality. Politically, I absolutely agree with the themes highlighted (to death) in this book about the calculations behind going to war, about our society’s inane ‘priorities,’—everything. But Ben Fountain never lets me forget that he’s communicating his messages, that he’s making these oh-so-important statements. Instead of telling a good story or giving us a meaningful character study, all Mr. Fountain ...more
Billy Lynn is a 19 year old Texan Iraq War hero on a P.R. tour for the Army. The team “the Bravos” are on a two week “Victory Tour” stateside that were filmed and widely viewed on TV due to acts of valour in Iraq. Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk is a satirical look at Americans and how they treat and view the war on terror.

I’ve often heard that this book is a satirical book in the vein of Slaughterhouse-Five and Catch 22 and this was the primary reason I read this book. While there were some sa
Apr 10, 2013 Abby rated it it was amazing
A brilliant novel about war that takes place far from the field of battle at the annual Dallas Cowboys Thanksgiving Day football game, the culmination of a “victory tour” for a squad of young grunts whose heroic actions in Iraq have made them a marketable commodity to drum up support for the war. Hilariously skewers the culture of instant celebrity, politics, patriotism and power, and poignantly conveys the senselessness of sending young men to war.
Dec 10, 2012 Robert rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: kindle-deals
Having a somewhat loose connection to the military lifestyle, I felt an instant connection to this book that goes deeper than a cursory glance just across the surface. It made BILLY LYNN’S LONG HALFTIME WALK real to me, yet I did have trouble initially getting into the story, because it’s told as much through flashbacks, bouncing in time from the present to the past, that I struggled initially with the author’s choice of storytelling. But once I caught on, I dove into the water headfirst, and I ...more
Jul 13, 2012 Stuart rated it really liked it
I can't say that I've ever read a Texas stream of consciousness novel before. It's a bit like taking Leopold Bloom and transplanting him to Dallas. Billy Lynn isn't like Bloom, though; he isn't a Dublin do-nothing who gets a buzz out of seeing a girl's ankles. Instead, he's an Iraq War hero on a p.r. tour for the Army and the day in question isn't June 16 (I'm three days late with this review). It's Thanksgiving Day at a Dallas Cowboys football game and Lynn gets a rise out of the ample flesh of ...more
My father was 17 when he enlisted in the Navy during WW II.. As an enlisted sailor he met my mother. They corresponded throughout his years at sea and were married at the end of the war, when he was 21. I have his letters to my mother while he was at sea.

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Why am I telling you this? This is a review of Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk, a novel about a 19 year old virgin hero who is being redeployed to Iraq. He has been to visit his Texas family and now is being paraded in front of the American peo
Dec 04, 2013 Greg rated it it was amazing
Shelves: best-of-the-best
I’m not the imploring type--but please, do anything you can to read this novel. It’s one of the best I’ve read in years, and Ben Fountain’s writing is so miraculously good that you can’t help but page through large swaths of it in slack-jawed amazement. It’s been six years since Ben gave us Brief Encounters with Che Guevara (still one of my favorite story collections), and it’s been well worth the wait. I wanted to write a long review here, because the novel’s worthy of so much meaty discussion- ...more
Lance Charnes
Jul 26, 2014 Lance Charnes rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Readers more interested in the humanity of war than in its hardware
Shelves: fiction-other
It's 2007 or 2008, and the bloom is well off the Iraq War rose when news footage of a confused squad-level engagement vaults the surviving members of Bravo Squad into national celebrity. The Bush Administration trots them around swing states on a two-week "Victory Tour," the latest in its endless attempts to portray the war as something other than a bloody fiasco. The last stop is Dallas and an appearance at the Cowboys' Thanksgiving Day game. This is where we meet Bravo, through the confused an ...more
May 24, 2012 Barbara rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction
It’s Thanksgiving Day and halftime for nineteen-year-old Billy Lynn’s tour of duty in Iraq. Billy and his fellow Bravos are on a two week “Victory Tour” stateside due to acts of valor in Iraq that were filmed and widely viewed on TV and online. The Bravos are heroes and everyone wants to bask in their glory. Hillary Swank is interested in portraying either Billy or his sergeant in a Hollywood film version. Dubya greets them in the White House before their other scheduled stops in swing states. T ...more
Dec 30, 2012 Elaine rated it liked it
Shelves: 2012
Fountain has a wonderfully engaging writing style, it bubbles along, mixing philosophical musings with pop cultural ephemera, and an eye for the wry telling detail. His characters are human in scale and sympathetic. Why only three stars? Well, for one, nothing happens in this book -- it is one comic but moving set piece after another all taking place over the course of a single football game. You keep waiting for the book's little murmurings of plot to build to a narrative flow, and that never q ...more
Alex Duncan
Dec 03, 2013 Alex Duncan rated it it was amazing
A story of soldiers trying to understand the country they are there to protect. It's a touching book that's written with humor. Great characters.
Billy Lynn is a hero…a gad-dam gen-u-wine hee-row…a nineteen-year-old Silver-Starred hero who watched his best friend die in his arms and got medalled for it. “Raped by angels” is how he and his fellow BRAVO team describe the firefights of their experience in “Eye-rack.” Now back stateside to a hero’s welcome…a two-week blitz through the swing states…culminating in talking a movie deal with a part-owner of the Dallas Cowboys. They are publicly lauded/humiliated during a sleet-filled losing game ...more
switterbug (Betsey)
Jun 06, 2012 switterbug (Betsey) rated it really liked it
I have an automatic affection for late bloomer Ben Fountain, author of numerous works that didn’t exactly receive the mainstream public’s attention, although he is already considered a man of at least a few letters. He’s also a Texas resident, which I certainly relate to, and a satirist, which there’s always room for in warmongering America. His debut novel pointedly skewers the way the Iraq war was bought and sold to the American public and brings me back to that first day in March, 2003, where ...more
This was all momentum - like a movie filmed in one continuous shot (such as De Palma's Snake Eyes) - and in the first third of the novel I was totally there: the language was alive and kinetic and surprising. Then, work got in the way and I just could not read the novel in the ideal one/two sittings. So, when I returned the third, fourth, fifth time I found myself reading the same thoughts and observations and I gradually grew discontented: both Billy's concerns and Bravo company's wandering all ...more
Oct 28, 2012 Andrew rated it liked it
There's a chapter in All Quiet on the Western Front where the main character returns home on leave to find himself utterly disconnected from his family and society. Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk is a novel-length exploration of the same theme in the context of a Victory Tour for American soldiers from Iraq. Invited to a Thanksgiving NFL game, the men, through the narrator of Billy Lynn, encounter their fellow Americans. Throughout the day's events, soldiers and civilians have a difficult time ...more
David Carr
Dec 05, 2015 David Carr rated it it was amazing
Shelves: best
"The past is a fog that breathes out ghost after ghost."

By page fifty I was recommending this brilliant book, and my love for it deepened from then on. A first novel without an error in tone, consistency or diction is nearly impossible to imagine; a first novel that cannot be improved in narrative or characterization seems unlikely; a war novel about Iraq/Afghanistan and the Dallas Cowboys that is funny and devastating enough to deserve a place next to Catch-22 is a gift. And that this book is
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Ben Fountain's fiction has appeared in Harper's, The Paris Review, and Zoetrope: All Story, and he has been awarded an O. Henry Prize, two Pushcart Prizes, and the PEN/Hemingway Award. He lives with his wife and their two children in Dallas, Texas.
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“Somewhere along the way America became a giant mall with a country attached.” 32 likes
“If you could figure out how to live with family then you'd gone a long way toward finding your peace.” 20 likes
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