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Redeployment

4.02 of 5 stars 4.02  ·  rating details  ·  9,143 ratings  ·  1,500 reviews
Phil Klay's Redeployment takes readers to the frontlines of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, asking us to understand what happened there, and what happened to the soldiers who returned. Interwoven with themes of brutality and faith, guilt and fear, helplessness and survival, the characters in these stories struggle to make meaning out of chaos.

In Redeployment, a soldier
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Hardcover, 288 pages
Published March 4th 2014 by Penguin Press (first published 2014)
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Matthew Hall Short stories function differently than novels. They have different goals, and affect us or explore things in different ways. Asking "should" implies…moreShort stories function differently than novels. They have different goals, and affect us or explore things in different ways. Asking "should" implies that there is somehow more value in a novel than in a short story. This is, for the record, a categorically stupid implication.(less)
Jonathan Scobie It immediately sprung to mind when I heard a review of Klay's book on radio. I'm only halfway through Redeployment, so I should withhold my judgement,…moreIt immediately sprung to mind when I heard a review of Klay's book on radio. I'm only halfway through Redeployment, so I should withhold my judgement, but its better than I expected. "Money as a Weapons System" even strays effectively into Joseph Heller territory. However, I do not feel it will measure up to The Things They Carried, which is the greatest literary response to the Vietnam War I have read (including Dispatches, Nam, The Short-timers), and is up there with All Quiet on the Western Front and Catch-22 as a 'great war novel'. I call it a 'novel', because it is sophisticated enough to elevate the short story collection to a holistic response to its subject, even more so than Joyce's Dubliners. O'Brien plays with ideas of narrative truth throughout by integrating characters and repeating situations in a way which makes a convincing case for the diffuse form of an anthology to be the only valid response to that war. Individually, "On The Rainy River" is not only a great story about courage, but the most definitive account of America's Vietnam War trauma since "The Deer Hunter". "The Lives of the Dead" also articulates the true nature of grief and how best to cope with our mortality. In terms of gender, Klay so far appears to handle the sex/death dyad pretty conventionally, unlike O'Brien's brilliant satire of both masculinity and Apocalypse Now in "The Sweetheart of the Song Tra Bong".(less)

Community Reviews

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Greg
Maybe everything is just fucked. I blast off a review pointing out how bad a shitty poetry is and it is one of my most popular reviews. Thank you all for the votes but I wish more of my thank-yous got seen by as many people as that particular fuck you.

There is certainly no fuck you here, this collection of stories about Marines is awesome. It's the kind of book that reminds me why I spend so much time reading, it makes all the sometimes dry spells of mediocre and mildly forgettable books all wor
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Nicole~
Veteran's Day- November 11th
To all our War Veterans: with tremendous appreciation and pride, a heartfelt Thank You for your bravery and steely character not just on the battlefield, but in resuming Life after it.

There are two ways to tell the story. Funny or sad. Guys like it funny, with lots of gore and a grin on your face when you get to the end. Girls like it sad, with a thousand-yard stare out to the distance as you gaze upon the horrors of war they can't quite see.
- Phil Klay: Redeployment
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Melanie
"In “Redeployment,” Phil Klay, a former Marine who served in Iraq, grapples with a different war but aims for a similar effect: showing us the myriad human manifestations that result from the collision of young, heavily armed Americans with a fractured and deeply foreign country that very few of them even remotely understand. Klay succeeds brilliantly, capturing on an intimate scale the ways in which the war in Iraq evoked a unique array of emotion, predicament and heartbreak. In Klay’s hands, I ...more
Washington Post
In these dozen stories, Klay draws from his own experience as a U.S. Marine captain to give us one of the most compelling depictions to date of the Iraq war, and especially of the psychic toll it continues to exact on those who fought in it. In this regard, “Redeployment” will inevitably draw comparisons to “The Things They Carried” (1990), Tim O’Brien’s masterful evocation of the Vietnam War. Somewhat remarkably, given Klay’s age (he’s only 30) and his admittedly mild deployment in Iraq (one de ...more
Roxane
The writing here is excellent and this offers a necessary look at war and its effects but there is a sameness across the stories that I didn't love. By the end of the book, not one character was distinct in my mind.
Julie
“Believing war is beyond words is an abrogation of responsibility — it lets civilians off the hook from trying to understand, and veterans off the hook from needing to explain. You don’t honor someone by telling them, “I can never imagine what you’ve been through.” Instead, listen to their story and try to imagine being in it, no matter how hard or uncomfortable that feels. If the past 10 years have taught us anything, it’s that in the age of an all-volunteer military, it is far too easy for Ame
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Trish
Maybe the best way to get at the truth about war is to read fiction. Klay’s collection of stories shows us just how that might be true, for he comes at aspects of the Iraq war from unique angles: PsyOps, Chaplain, corpse corps, infantry, artillery. He must fuse the experience of many into these snapshots, giving us both an unreal picture, but one that is strangely more real than any other. What cannot be clearer is that we have to be very sure of our motives when we place men and women in harm’s ...more
Sara Nelson
I defy any readers of Phil Klay’s stunning Redeployment to a) put it down and b) limit the number of “wows” they utter while reading it. These twelve stories, are all about the Iraq War or its aftermath; they are so direct, so frank, they will impress readers who have read all they care to about the war as well as those who thought they couldn’t stand to read about it at all. The strength of Klay’s stories lies in his unflinching, un-PC point of view, even for the soldiers he so clearly identif ...more
Snotchocheez
"I bet more Marines have joined the Corps because of Full Metal Jacket than because of any f***ing recruiting commercial."
"And that's an anti-war film."
"Nothing's an anti-war film.. there's no such thing."





Except for perhaps the documentary "Restrepo", even the grittiest movies about combat operations, even those that have an anti-war undercurrent (like "The Hurt Locker", "Black Hawk Down", or, yeah, Kubrick's "Full Metal Jacket") still have a patina of Hollywood glamor and video game glory that
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Douglas
"These stories demand and deserve our attention."

Although I didn't find this enjoyable (How could I?), I do agree with the writer Karen Russell, "Redeployment is a stunning, upsetting, urgently necessary book about the impact of the Iraq war on both soldiers and civilians."

They say you're not supposed to judge a book by its cover, but I always wonder, why not? The stark photo of a solitary solider waiting to deploy is one of the most iconic book covers of 2014. Before winning critical acclaim,
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Eric Franklin
For those of you keeping score -

"American Sniper" - 1 star
"Redeployment" - 5 stars

"Redeployment" is everything you want in a war book, an unflinching look at the disconnect between the people fighting and the country sending them to fight. It's smart in every way that "American Sniper" is over-simplistic, showcasing the ins-and-outs of war with sensitivity and nuance whereas "American Sniper" practically screams "F*** yeah! Let's kill more savages in the name of freedom!"

While fiction, the voi
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rachel
The major (heh) issue I had with Redeployment, which may or may not be just my own issue having read The Forever War and Fallen Angels and The Things They Carried and loving all three, is that for the most part the stories don't read as new or original material. I also felt a disconnect from most of them, despite intimate subject matter. Klay has a just the facts style and seems to delight in the use of military jargon -- in fact, the purpose of one very short story seems to be the use of as man ...more
Chris
Pretty visceral and spot on from the stories in the AO to those on the homefront. Stories about chaplains, artillerymen, civilian contractors, etc.. you name it-- the former Marine in law school checking the DOD news releases for names he hopes he doesn't know-it's all there and perfectly told. This is the second great book produced by a veteran and former public affairs officer-the other one was Fobbit. Perhaps if the politicians would read these stories and the poetry of Brian Turner they woul ...more
Siobhan Fallon
To most, the war in Iraq is a finished chapter in history. Not so to the Marines, family members, and State Department employees in Phil Klay's electrifying debut collection, Redeployment. Thanks to these provocative, and haunting stories, the war will also become viscerally real to readers. Phil Klay is a powerful new voice and Redeployment stands tall with the best war writing of this decade.
Maxwell
What a way to end 2014. This collection of short stories is remarkable. I first heard about it when it was nominated for the National Book Award this year, which it ended up winning. And it is definitely deserving of the award.

The stories all center around American men who are serving or have served in Iraq. The author himself is a veteran of the Iraqi war. And the knowledge and experience with being overseas, but also the experiences of coming home to U.S. is definitely evident in reading this
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Emily
Klay is well-educated (Dartmouth grad) but writes many of these returning-veteran stories in the voice of an unlettered grunt. He has his characters say things like "my legs and arms ... are as pale as pigeon shit" which is a manly, unsophisticated comparison to make, but doesn't really work as a visual since (sorry for the detail) pigeon shit is also dark and lumpy. Because these are short stories, we don't really get to know much about any particular protagonist--they're not all the same guy s ...more
Iris Pereyra
It took me a while to finish this book, mostly because Redeployment is a book of short stories that describes the experiences of soldiers coming back from the wars in Iraq & Afghanistan.
I am neither a fan of military books or short stories, but I thought that it was important to hear the voices of the soldiers involved on these conflicts. For the last 10 years these wars, and the Iraq war in particular, have been a political football that continues to burns political careers. But as time pa
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Kelli
If I had to sum up my feelings about this book in one word, could I do that? What word would I choose to describe this stunning collection of short stories? Thought-provoking, perfect, intense, brutal, authentic, raw, heartbreaking, honest, hard-to-read, brilliant, unforgettable...luckily, I don't have to describe this in a word because quite frankly, I don't think I could. I'm supposed to be reading All The Light We Cannot See (the 28-day library loan that is due back in three days) but I picke ...more
Janet
This would have been a 5 star read for me had it not been for the extensive use of acronyms that I had to look up. Thank you Michelle Williams for the heads up on that.
At the very least the publisher should have included a glossary.
Having served in the military, I thought I'd be up for the challenge but I couldn't have been more wrong. A lot has changed since my tour and many of these terms are specific to the war in Iraq,

This is my first fiction about that particular war. The stories are heart
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Merilee
I'm not quite sure why, but I've enjoyed war books since high school, while detesting war itself. It may be the descriptions of the camaraderie of the soldiers. You rarely read of men displaying their feelings to this extent in other genres.Going After Cacciato, The Things They Carried, Tiger the Lurp Dog, Catch-22, and all the earlier ones… Now along comes this collection of short stories, mainly about the Iraq war, each told by a different narrator. Dartmouth-educated Klay was a press officer ...more
David Thompson
BLUF: twelve vignettes focused on redeployment and the impact that reflecting on time in OEF and OIF has.

For anyone who has been there, they can likely relate. Very diverse contributions in the book.

An easy 291 pages. Buy it, read it, reflect. At the end of the day, it's up to each individual to make sense of their wartime experience.
Louise
Phil Klay can add to his accomplishment list that he got a long novel/saga lover like me to appreciate a short story. This book, appearing on Best of 2014 list after list piqued my interest. I now see the appeal of the short story.

Each of the 12 stories presents a different experience of Iraq or its aftermath. Perspectives include the stories of those in combat, patrol, the clergy, mortuary workers, hearts and minds communicators and the paper pushers. The stories show the everyday experience o
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Katie
I am likely the only person who rated Redeployment one star.

This book is highly revered and includes several short, sometimes poignant, stories of war. I couldn't have been more interested in the topic, though I was a little disappointed to read 1) that it isn't one story 2) that it isn't non-fiction. Since Klay is a Marine himself, I knew that his insight would be powerful.

So, one star. It's not because Phil Klay cannot write, necessarily, but Redeployment was not for me. First, it contains an
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Cristina
Redeployment is a far departure from what I normally read but I decided to purchase this book after I heard an interview with Phil Klay on NPR. And I'm so glad I took the risk and ventured out of my comfort zone.

I more or less had an idea what I was getting in to but truthfully, I wasn't prepared for the soul crushing journey at the hands of this writer who happens to be a former U.S. Marine Captain. He drew on his own experiences to create this fictional work of art or at least that’s what I t
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Cynthia
What a difficult book to read! Klay has a way of making you feel like you’re in the heat of battle and in danger almost all the time….even when his protagonists are walking a peaceful American street in Everytown USA they remain vigilant and you as the reader share their emotions. Obviously these stories aren’t comfortable. Most of them are about Marines and their experiences in Iraq. For the most part these are kids with little idea what they’d got themselves into and their leadership is altern ...more
Kasa Cotugno
For every war there is a definitive work of fiction that defines it. My (admittedly personal) shortlist includes All Quiet on the Western Front, The Naked and the Dead, The Bridges at Toko-Ri, and Matterhorn. Whereas these fine works succeed in explaining the horrors of war to the armchair readers back home, they don't encompass the experience from a 360 degree perspective from the soldiers who fought the battles. The literature coming out of the Iraqi-Afghani wars is different. The authors, mos ...more
Larry Hoffer
I've been tremendously fortunate to never have had to go to war. I've always been awed by the sacrifices made by the men and women in our armed forces, and truly admire both their physical strength and their mental toughness, which has allowed them to battle actual and psychological challenges.

Thanks to a number of war-themed movies, we've gotten some idea (albeit dramatized ones) of what soldiers went through during wartime and after the battles have ended, and how they coped with injuries and
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Matthew
Marvin Gaye once sung that "war is not the answer". He was right. War, is not an answer. Instead, it's a question. Really, it's lots of questions. Complicated, difficult, messy questions. What makes Redeployment so great is that Phil Klay isn't afraid to ask any of them.

Having just seen the incredulously awful "American Sniper", which paints war as a black and white coin (you can only pick one side), Redeployment offers a fresh palette of many greys. War, to Klay, is complicated. It's messy. It
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Newengland
These tales from Iraq will serve nicely in a time capsule, as they cut to the quick of "George's War" with episodes both in battle and in headquarters, in the Middle East and in the States after service. You see it from many angles with all the usual suspects -- violence, fear, bravado, humor, sarcasm, machismo, stupidity, hatred, racism, love, evil, service, disservice, existential angst, and lost ideals. Covered. And all in modern, somewhat Hemingwayesque language, with the dialogue being stro ...more
Larry Bassett
War can wear you out!

This is a book about killing people in Iraq and Afghanistan. It also tells some things about what people did before and after they were in the war. It starts out with some rip roaring war stories that grab you and shake you. But then in the middle of the book it diverts to stories of chaplains and religion at the battlefront. Not my thing at all and I pretty much hated that part of the book, quite a few pages wasted for me. I suppose it might be good to get some of that pers
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Phil Klay is a graduate of Dartmouth College and a veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps. He served in Iraq’s Anbar Province from January 2007 to February 2008 as a Public Affairs Officer. After being discharged he went to Hunter College and received an MFA.
More about Phil Klay...
OIF (Electric Literature's Recommended Reading) Fire and Forget: Short Stories from the Long War

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“[Prayer] will not protect you. It will help your soul. It's for while you're alive.” 12 likes
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