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The Farther Shore

3.38  ·  Rating Details  ·  195 Ratings  ·  41 Reviews
Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers
"We're all afraid of something, and sometimes we go about things the wrong way."

Narrated by a young soldier caught in the deadly fog of war, Eck's first novel is a harrowing exploration of contemporary warfare. "What brought you here?" is the question asked of Eck's young narrator, Joshua Stantz, from the army's 10th Mountain Di
Hardcover, 176 pages
Published September 28th 2007 by Milkweed Editions
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Feb 23, 2008 Michael rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: anyone
Shelves: alive
A pretty perfect first novel. A granite narration amid the chaos of a war with no clear enemies. Taut and clear sentences. I kept waiting for him to swerve out of control, but he doesn't; the distance from the author to the paper remains beautifully static, something rare in debuts. And the comparisons to Hemingway and O'Brien are not exaggerations, but the sort of oblique yet lucid narrator mostly brought to mind Camus' The Stranger. It's just a really gripping (and short) read, flying by in a ...more
Dec 05, 2008 Jack rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: die hard war book fans
Recommended to Jack by: a friend of the author
Shelves: ho-hum
“’Bad things happen in threes,’ Clip said, to no one in particular.
‘That’s not true,’ I said.
‘Bad things just happen.'"

Thus Joshua Stantz, a G.I. from Wichita, Kansas, and author Mathew Eck’s narrating protagonist sums up Eck’s novel The Farthest Shore. Stantz’s statement doesn’t describe the novel itself, but rather what Eck inserts between its covers – an unending procession of bad things. He inserts a bleak story about a bleak episode in American military history: our misguided involvement a
Oct 24, 2014 Helen rated it it was amazing
Just as powerful as Kevin Powers’ The Yellow Birds, The Farther Shore is the story of what happens to our military men and women when we send them to hostile countries for reasons no one really understands.

Joshua Stantz is monitoring the bombing of a city in Somalia when things go horribly wrong. And they continue to go wrong, for how could they go anything but wrong? As Stantz and his company make their way across the warring city, searching for the army that has abandoned them, the reader is g
Novels, indeed any entertainment media, about war tend to fall into one of two categories: the action-packed hoorah kind or the thought-provoking, realistic kind. There is a place for both. The first category is infinitely more entertaining and fulfills the glory-in-war fantasy so many of us have. The second category is not at all fun to read but is necessary to bring us back down to Earth and remind us that the lives of real people are lost in war. Matthew Eck’s debut The Farther Shore falls wh ...more
Heather Shaw
Nov 04, 2008 Heather Shaw rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction
Author Matthew Eck’s debut novel, The Farther Shore (Milkweed, 192 pages, hardcover, $22.00, 978-1-57131-057-6) opens on a rooftop in blacked-out Somalia with a squad of 10th Mountain Division soldiers operating as eyes in the ground. In other words, they’re directing the bombing of the city—not too close to the center, not too far from the edge.

When something, or someone trips the alarms they’ve left in the stairwells of the building, their descent from the building top is both physical and ps
Jan 18, 2008 John rated it really liked it
The Farther Shore tells us the story of 6 men covertly dropped into Somalia during an American incursion to bring normalcy to the warlord-controlled country. The men run into trouble and have to find their way out of the country on foot.

I "test-drove" this book as a potential selection for my bookclub, but it didn't give me anything to sink my teeth into as far as a larger picture of the conflict or anything worth much discussion. Now I could have missed the larger picture altogether, and perhap
Feb 18, 2008 Adam rated it liked it
War stories can be saccharine, in that they gag you with blatant, militant jingoism that crows about the glories of "brotherhood" in the face of death. War stories can also be deeply disturbing, calling into question the very essence of humanity (and whether or not we who kill each other can be called "human" after all). I wouldn't say that this book falls into either camp neatly. There's certainly no jingoism here. Instead, I'd say that by keeping the conflict nameless, it becomes a modern Ever ...more
Aug 04, 2010 Laurie rated it really liked it
If you don't like books about war that don't shy away from getting into nitty gritty details, then this isn't the book for you. I'm not sure how this book got on my to-read list but it must have intrigued me enough to overlook my confusion and pick it up at the library. The book was well-written despite the fact that I wasn't quite clear where the soldiers were located and what year this was supposedly taking place. Or why exactly the U.S. Army was in wherever they were in. These details didn't ...more
Dec 02, 2009 Tom rated it it was ok
Realistic/believable story about a squad of soldiers in Somalia(the story doesn't really this crystal clear, but you gather this is the battle of Mogadishu where an American soldiers' body was infamously dragged through the streets). The soldiers become separated and try to make their way to safety.

The story was well written and believable but my biggest problem was that there wasn't anyone in the story that you could latch onto. The central figure is unlikable and everyone else acts for distast
Jun 09, 2008 Mike rated it really liked it
Engaging story about soldiers lost in urban conflict, written by a former soldier writer become. In situations of extreme duress when the normative order of society gives way the result is not chaos; the world instead reconfigures itself less human, like Bugs Bunny exploded into a Mandelbrot spray of his component cartoon hues. The war-torn tableau disgorges fallible angels in helicopter form, ritual murder, impossible trains; events follow one another with ineffable certainty. Our narrator and ...more
Jul 27, 2008 Lisa rated it liked it
War may be hell, but the wars we fight in today are a very different kind of hell than the traditional army-vs.-army wars of the past. Matthew Eck's brief, harrowing novel of war drops readers into the middle of this new kind of war. Six soldiers, one wounded perhaps mortally, are stuck in an unnamed African city in the middle of clan warfare, shifting allegiances, and unseen dangers. They have to get out, but before they can get out, they have to survive. Eck's clear, spare writing is perfect f ...more
Nov 05, 2007 Dan rated it liked it
A group of American soldiers in a nameless African city accidently kill two children and have to survive when the city turns against them. Eck was a veteran of our adventure in Somalia. This novel (it's really more of a novella-the publishers play with the margins more than me trying to meet a page requirement in college) attempts to capture his feelings of confusion and alienation as a young soldier. Eck uses really stripped down prose, which does a good job of creating a feeling of emotional d ...more
Apr 23, 2008 Papalodge rated it really liked it
You can't help wonder why the United States keeps sending her soldiers to fight in other countries.

Maybe other people find life cheap and she is trying to make them change their way of living. Sending her soldiers to die seems to be the answer. But then some countries do not want democracy. Is it possible there are other choices? Perhaps walk a mile in their shoes.

Where is Somalia? What was the reason for being there? How did it End? Did it end? Are we still there? If not how did we manage to ge
Apr 25, 2012 Ron rated it it was amazing
In this taut, harrowing novella, four young American soldiers are stranded in a war-torn city in Somalia. The story, told by one of the four, follows them as they make their escape, while death stalks them every step of the way. The rules of engagement, meant to guide their decisions, often fall far too short, and they are forced to make choices on the fly, redefining and reformulating right and wrong as they go. Survival depends finally on chance and mischance, and their journey takes them far ...more
John Seyfarth
Nov 24, 2009 John Seyfarth rated it liked it
From an abandoned building in the city of Mogadishu, American soldiers direct airstrikes on priority targets. After the helicopter that was to take them back to their unit came under hostile fire and was forced to abort its mission, the soldiers were left to find their way to safety through a city ruled by gangs of thieves and killers. The trip is harrowing and dangerous. The author is a veteran of the Somalia action and writes a vivid, suspense-filled account of a situation in which it was ofte ...more
Dale Barlow
Mar 05, 2014 Dale Barlow rated it really liked it
fictionalized (but real enough for me) account of a small group of soldiers who get separated from their command and are left to fend for themselves. It never is clear exactly where this war is taking place, but really that doesn’t matter—the (sad) drama that unfolds and the resulting emotional toll is what this small book is about. If this was a long book (in terms of pages), I wouldn’t have been able to handle the emotional context. 2007 Milkweed Winner hardback via Inter-Library Loan (Jessami ...more
Rose Anderson
A first person account of the horrors of war.
Jun 17, 2009 Peggy rated it it was ok
Gritty, and rough.

This wasn't really my cup of tea. I prefer deep character development and a long slow burn.

This wasn't an awful novel, just a bit too light on character development, but with a really jarring atmosphere.

No punches were pulled in the descriptions of what war does to the people and places it touches. If anything, the setting and people of the war were the most gripping parts of the novel ... so much so, it reduces the actual lead characters into almost after thoughts.

Just one pe
Feb 02, 2009 Zach rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'd probably give this book 3.5 stars if I could, but since I imagine that Eck edited the hell out of this to get to a lean 173 pages (too short or long), I'll round down. Finished this book in just a few hours (today). It genuinely captured my interest. Love how the book handled the confusion of the situation without being didactically political. Could have definitely done without the final chapter, and some cliche character elements. Dialogue could also have been better. Still, a "good read."
Oct 13, 2008 TheSaint rated it it was ok
Shelves: adult
War is one of the only ways the most of us would ever lose friends and allies to sniper fire and aerial bombs. And sure enough, In Matthew Eck's, The Farther Shore, just as one unit is separated from its command in a hostile city, the unit suffers ethical and moral losses. And one by one, Fizer, Heath, Cooper, and Zeller fall to enemy fire. Stantz and Santiago, make it out alive, but their lives will never be the same.
Jan 06, 2008 Teresa rated it really liked it
I received a review copy of this book this weekend and read it in one night. It is a brilliant first book. He is being compared to Tim O’Brien—I am sure b/c of the context of the book but there’s an element of clarity in Eck’s book that I did not find in O’Brien’s earlier work. He’s definitely a new writer to watch.
Jan 18, 2009 Joel added it
Not sure what it means to be the "first great war novel of our generation". The book chronicles the lives of a few soldiers told from vantage point of one of the survivors. They we in a somalian city and left for dead when an exstraction fails to rescue them. It is a short novel, you can read it in a day.
Nov 11, 2008 Marsha rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Several of my nephews have served in the Middle East. This book shares the challenges faced by our military in that area. The characters were well developed, and I quickily turned page after page until I was finished. On Veteran's Day, I'd like to thank all who have served to keep our country free!!
Oct 15, 2008 Karlan rated it really liked it
The events in this short novel take place in a nightmarish sort of setting where a group of young soldiers separated from the others try to survive in a strange city. The contrast of realistic dialog and surrealistic setting and events make war seem even more terrible and useless.
Jun 23, 2008 Benjamin rated it liked it
Shelves: recentreads
I think this book merits two and a half stars. It's action sequences are well written and engaging, but the plot is far from original and the story is very depressing. Decent and worth the read, but rather grim.
Apr 16, 2015 Corrine rated it liked it
Shelves: second-monday
While I appreciated the glimpse into the fog of current warfare, I think I wanted more of a connection with the characters. I did think it was well written in that it put me smack dab in the place and time.
Hans Weyandt
Nov 06, 2008 Hans Weyandt rated it it was amazing
Tim O'Brien is the novelist who is best known for his war novels. Now we have Matthew Eck doing a more contemporary version that is comparable in quality to O'Brien.

A lovely and moving little book.
May 29, 2008 Melissa rated it really liked it
I was pleasantly surprised by this one. I found myself looking for moments when I could sneak in a few pages of reading, so that says something. It's a quick read, and quite powerful.
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