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The Last War: A Novel

3.12  ·  Rating Details ·  120 Ratings  ·  40 Reviews
A breathtaking novel of love, war, and betrayal

Flash, a photojournalist, chases conflicts around the globe with her war correspondent husband, Brando. Now Brando is in Iraq, awaiting her arrival. Yet instead of racing to join him, Flash idles in Istanbul, vaguely aware that her marriage is faltering.

Losing herself in a fog of memory and recrimination, Flash ponders her lif
Hardcover, 240 pages
Published May 26th 2009 by Harper (first published May 21st 2009)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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Will Byrnes
Oct 01, 2014 Will Byrnes rated it really liked it
Certain sorts of people are attracted to the life and death workplace that is the war zone. For some it is mother’s milk to survive in the midst of death, whether as a combatant, NGO-er like Red Cross or MSF field personnel, or as a journalist. It can act as a drug, making one feel more alive than the hum-drum of a stable home with 2.5 kids and a spouse, in the same environment every day. The 2008 film, The Hurt Locker, captures that well. For good or ill, some need the rush of adventure, ...more
Oct 12, 2014 Elizabeth rated it it was ok
Shelves: fiction
I really found this to be a stifling and fuggy "novel." It reads like a memoir (which I suspect it is) and for this I could not settle into the story. I had little patience for Flash who is pining away for an ambivalent husband. She is lonesome and depressed but instead of feeling empathy for her I felt annoyed by her inertia. Just glad to be done with it.
Mar 28, 2010 Asya rated it liked it
Why is it so much easier to ravel a story than unravel it? Great build up, initial suspense, tension, intrigue, alluring and appealingly mopey characters, and then, somewhere just over the hill it all goes to pot, or rather goes nowhere. This is one of those static books. It begins with the main character and narrator, a depressed and bewildered photographer "Flash" sulking in her Istanbul flat while her husband "Wonderboy," blissfully ignorant of her blues, covers the war in Iraq from Baghdad. ...more
May 21, 2009 Marty rated it really liked it
Shelves: harpercollins, 2009
Usually when I finish a book, I think about whether I liked the plot or the characters or what not. This was one time where what really stood out was the writing. I thought that this book was beautifully written.

The main character, Flash, is a photographer who makes her living covering wars with her journalist husband, Brando. The novel in set in 2003, and Brando is in Iraq. Meanwhile, Flash is in Istanbul ostensibly waiting for her papers to come through so she can join him. Other than a myster
Jul 22, 2009 Lori rated it it was ok
Shelves: first-reads
This book caught my attention on Firstreads and I was lucky enough to win it, but actually found it disappointing. I kept waiting for the plot to develop, only to get to the end frustrated that I had spent the time looking for something big to happen that never did. In my opinion this book was about depression and misplaced love, not war and romance and photography. I found the environments exciting and loved to learn about the exotic places Flash went. I hated the nicknames...Flash and ...more
Jun 21, 2009 Rebecca rated it liked it
This was a really fast read. I finished it in a few hours. The story is about a couple in which the husband writes and the wife does the photography. For their entire marriage they are capturing different wars. By the time the reader meets them the husband is in Iraq and he wife is in Istanbul awaiting a visa to join him. She gets a weird letter from someone she doesn't know telling her that her husband is cheating on her. And the rest of the story is her unraveling and trying to decide whether ...more
Mar 26, 2014 mark rated it it was amazing
THE LAST WAR is my favorite type of novel--it is like a dream, a painting, a photograph--provoking thought, beauty, and doubt. The prose is beautiful, impelling the mind to see and the heart to feel. The dialogue is such that it could be our own--if it were we in the place of the characters, if we had their wishes and fears. There is much more here than words on a page. There is a backstory intertwined with the creator. This type of novel is an author's attempt to make sense out of life, or at ...more
Becky R.
May 09, 2010 Becky R. rated it it was amazing
I was thoroughly, and utterly enthralled with The Last War from the first page or two, until the end. It didn't take long for me to realize that this was NOT a story about the Iraq war, about a war correspondent, nor a story to reveal the culture of the Middle East; rather, this novel was a human drama, played out in far-flung locations that added an extra depth to the novel.

Having spent time in Istanbul, I readily picked up on the locations and streets mentioned by Flash (as the author had spen
Lydia Presley
Jul 27, 2010 Lydia Presley rated it it was ok
Shelves: fiction, middle-east, 2010
I spent a good thirty minutes trying to think of ways to begin this review. The biggest challenge stems, as always, from my opinion of the book; an opinion that's torn.

On one hand I can appreciate the story being told; the story of a broken marriage, a woman used to peering into the lives of others and having to, ultimately, examine herself with that lens. There's a touch of mystery, did "Wonderboy" cheat or did he not cheat? Who wrote that damning letter? Did the letter actually affect the alre
Jun 25, 2009 ccqdesigns rated it liked it
I received a copy of this book from Goodreads (thank you so much) and was very interested since I had been an expat myself and lived in several countries overseas. The Last War states it is “a breathtaking novel of love, war and betrayal”. Flash is a photographer and is married to Wonderboy, a journalist. They both cover war stories, sometimes together and sometimes apart. At the beginning of the book, Flash is in Istanbul and Brando (wonderboy) is in Iraq. Flash is waiting for a visa to join ...more
Jan 10, 2012 Jennifer rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
From my book review blog, Rundpinne....[return][return]Beautifully written, spellbinding, and astonishingly detailed, The Last War by Ana Menendez is a compelling literary novel. Menendez takes the reader on an introspective journey through the last ten years of her life, taking the reader back to Afghanistan, Pakistan, India and where she currently resides in Istanbul. Margarita Anastasia Morales, known as Flash, is a photographer who has been traveling around the world with her journalist ...more
Sep 28, 2013 Paula rated it it was ok
Shelves: fiction
Another novel abandoned out of boredom. I found the characters and their predicaments unconvincing either in terms of a novel or those of "real" life. Even the female protagonist's penchant for red wine (good Bordeaux or cheap domestic Turkish), although plausible on the face of it, didn't read as "true." And the nicknames, Flash for the female photographer and Wonderboy for her war correspondent boyfriend. Ugh!
The second star is due to one interesting passage regarding language: "Turkish, Alif
Dec 02, 2010 Irene rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2010
Sometimes authors write books as a way to receive some psychotherapy. Lots of "life stuff" can lead a person to step outside of the self, evaluate what's not kosher and acknowledge some hard truths. I believe Ana Menendez did this in The Last War. She needed the therapy and writing it was the best way to get there.

Sometimes these types of books are a curative for people who also need this therapy but are better readers than writers. That's me (despite my desire to be the latter). I guess what I
Apr 09, 2010 Kasey rated it it was ok
I picked this up at random from the library. The setting was interesting and the writing was good but lots of f-bombs. I read the first half really quick, anxious to see what would happen. I must admit the heroine started to annoy me and I wished she would actually do something instead of mull around feeling sorry for herself. There were twists that made it good. In the end though I can't say I really liked the book too much. It must be my old age but I'm starting to prefer the escapism of ...more
May 19, 2011 Laura rated it it was ok
I probably read this on the suggestion of NPR. I can't really remember.

This novel was very melancholy, about a photojournalist and her print journalist husband in the early years of the Afghan and Iraq wars. They are separated throughout the novel, with the suspicion of an affair by the husband looming over the main character's musings.

It wasn't the worst novel I've read. I actually finished it. But I never connected with the main character and I was bored with her self-absorbed sorrow.

I'm sure
Mar 07, 2013 Diane rated it really liked it
Shelves: finished
I loved the fact that the author knew her way around Istanbul. I didn't like that every page she was self medicating with wine and just relaxing. It was also hard to follow the plot as it would go backward and forward with no visible dates to let the reader know if it was a flashback.

I expected the photojournalist character to have a vision or to discover and confront what was wrong with her life. I don't really think the author summed up the problem. She just let the husband journalist die be
Feb 11, 2010 Suzanne rated it really liked it
Mesmerizing. It pulls you in deeper and deeper - just like a dream you cannot wake up from. So much of this novel is dream-like - the writing style, switching back & forth, characters showing up out of virtually nowhere, weird conversations.

What is it about? - how a photographer living in Istanbul is dealing with the dissolution of her marriage, while her journalist husband is in Kabul covering the Iraq war. During this time, she "runs" into a friend she last saw in Afghanistan. This friend
Mar 08, 2014 Dominique rated it liked it
This novel has some great things going for it. The writing is really good, and I could tell the author really knew the places she was writing about and did it with grace not with flash (excused the pun!), and I appreciated that. But the relationship elements felt more contrived to me even though I read this story is based on true events. But the developments of the affair in the novel just didn't feel real, or at least not real enough for me to care, and I didn't get much sense of the love ...more
Aug 07, 2013 Sarah rated it really liked it
انتهيت من قرائتها حالا ... لا اعلم كيف اصفها ... هل هى جيده ام سئيه .. هل هى ممله ام مشوقه ... كل ما اعلمه انى تعلمت منها درس واحد فقط .. انه عندما تتاح لنا الفرصه لنعبر لمن نحبهم عن حبنا الا نضيعها لانه ربما لن تأتى تلك الفرصه مره اخرى .. عندما تأتى امامنا فرصه ان نضحى بشئ من اجل من نحب او نترك شئ نحبه من اجل التواجد معهم لا نضيعها ابدا ... نهايه مؤلمه كثيرا ولا اعلم كيف بكل قوة تحملتها البطله التى فى ظنى هى ذات قلب قاس .. وفعلا لم تبال بأنه يحبها او لم تفهم جيدا هذا الحب كل ما كانت تنظر اليه ...more
Aug 04, 2009 Ellie rated it it was ok
Recommended to Ellie by: first reads
Shelves: first-reads
Another first-reads win! The story is set against the backdrop of the U.S. invasions in Afghanistan and Iraq, but mostly takes place in Istanbul. The main character, Flash, is a photojournalist married to Brando, a journalist; both cover wars around the world. The couple has a residence in Istanbul and when Brando reports to Iraq, Flash stays behind for reasons unknown to her. When she receives a letter about her husband's infidelity, she begins to reflect on their past. Told in part in ...more
Aug 15, 2009 Sarah rated it it was ok
Shelves: first-reads, 2009
I won this as a First Reads giveaway. It was an interesting look into the lives of war correspondents and journalists, and I really enjoyed the descriptions of the settings where the book took place. However, as other reviewers have noted I kept waiting for something "big" to happen, and I'm still unsure what the book was really about. This was a pretty short book (225 p.) that I should have been able to finish in a weekend, but I never felt that I really got pulled in and it took me a while to ...more
Nov 02, 2009 Melissa rated it really liked it
This is a very intriguing mystery set in the gorgeous city of Istanbul. An american photojurounalist questions her marriage in Istanbul while her husband is covering the war in Iraq, with the help of a myseterious letter. This reads almost like a biography by with more detail. The story goes back and forth in time to explain events that Flash is trying to make connections with the current outcome of her relationships. This is a quick end of the summer read that will make you want to plan your ...more
Dec 30, 2013 Meghan rated it liked it
Kinda beautiful but also kinda too much navel-gazing with unresolved plots. I would have liked to have the time in Afghanistan expanded upon - those sections were written with such vigor compared to the listlessness mimicking the protagonist's restlessness whilst in Istanbul.

The end was too quick and without a true resolution. Like life, I suppose, but this isn't life - it's a paperback novel.
Colleen Clark
Feb 14, 2010 Colleen Clark rated it liked it
Shelves: iraq, turkey-me, fiction
This novel, set in Istanbul, is about a journalist whose husband is a correspondent in Iraq during the first part of the war there. After I read it with pleasure and interest I learned from a book review that Menedez is the former wife of the journalist Dexter Filkins. He wrote an excellent account of the war in Iraq entitled "The Forever War." He had been in Afghanistan before that and is now in Afghanistan again reporting for the NY Times. So that gave this novel even more interest.
Aug 10, 2009 Meri rated it liked it
There was nothing that really stood out about this novel except its interesting look into the community of war correspondents. I always wondered what drives someone to do that. I also identified with Flash's frustration--it would be hard to struggle with depression with a war correspondent for a husband. I can see why individual internal struggles seem like a luxury to someone who watches entire families devastated by war, though they are certainly not.
Jan 07, 2010 Kerry rated it really liked it
I'm not sure what to say about this book. I liked it, but I keep finding myself wondering if other people would like it. It is not the "type" of book that I would normally be drawn to, but I was very impressed with the author. I liked the writing style and I was sucked in right away. It's a short book but I finished it in less than 24 hours, which is not typical for me. Suzanne I think you might like it.
Jun 25, 2009 Ashley added it
i won this in the Firstreads drawing! So.... Stay tuned!

This is where I'm supposed to tell you about the plot, how good a writer she is, and things like that. Well, I can't. I can only find the barest plot. It's an amazing book, I just don't get it. So many things aren't there for a real purpose.
Aug 11, 2009 Jorie rated it really liked it
This book was very interesting. The author is the ex-wife of new york times war correspondent Dexter Filkins. If this is the type of thing that interests you i would read the forever war (his non-fiction take on the same time period) first and then read this book.
Jun 29, 2009 Samantha rated it liked it
It was a little difficult to get into at first, but once I got my stride, I really enjoyed it. I love the exotic setting, and it was very interesting. The only thing that was wrong with it was the slow beginning. Otherwise, a very well-written book with a unique storyline.
May 12, 2013 Megan rated it it was ok
It sounded like an interesting book, using war reporting as a metaphor for the marriage of our main characters. Ultimately, though, it is really just a woman moping around Istanbul having irritating conversations with a woman who claims to be her friend. It was more like a very long short story.
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“Depression is not madness, it's just depression, the loser version, the low-energy response to bad stuff that happens in your life. When you're depressed, you think you're the only one to have ever tasted this kind of hurt. And that lonely self-regard brings with it its own painful pleasure.” 15 likes
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