The Last True Story I'll Ever Tell
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The Last True Story I'll Ever Tell

3.68 of 5 stars 3.68  ·  rating details  ·  1,214 ratings  ·  165 reviews
John Crawford joined the Florida National Guard to pay for his college tuition, willingly exchanging one weekend a month and two weeks a year for a free education. But in Autumn 2002, one semester short of graduating and newly married--in fact, on his honeymoon--he was called to active duty and sent to the front lines in Iraq. Crawford and his unit spent months upon months...more
ebook, 240 pages
Published April 1st 2006 by Riverhead Books (first published 2005)
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John Crawford was newly married when his National Guard unit was shipped to Baghdad in time for the first wave of invasions in the most recent U.S. project against Iraq. As a member of the National Guard, he should have only been overseas for a couple of months. Instead, Crawford fought for over a year before being sent home. This book tells some of the things he experienced while stationed in Baghdad.

Crawford took his title from the fact that he never wants to tell another true story because th...more
If you ever for some reason stumble upon this review in the endless stream of comments to come. Thank you John Crawford for writing about your experience. I have friends that have served in the military and come back different (most of them not in a good way). I never pester them with questions about their experience because (as you put it well in your own words) I get the strong feeling that they are asked too often and telling true stories about horrible things that happened is not as fun as n...more
I have read The Last True Story I'll Ever Tell more than once and rather enjoyed and recognized portions of it. There is a great deal disparate opinion regarding this book and to some extent I'd say deservedly so. John Crawford was a young man who had previously served and in fact had been in the 101st Airborne Division. He did know what he was doing when he joined the Florida National Guard; with that in mind the portion of the title: " An Accidental Soldier's Account of the War in Iraq" is a b...more
A heartbreakingly true account of a soldier's life in the current Iraq war. The author was a National Guardsman who expected to do the "two weeks a year" thing until he was called up to do security detail in Baghda; hence the "accidental soldier" of the title. The horrors he witnessed and the agony and fear he had to endure will be familiar to anyone who reads the paper, but his attention to detail and his pulse-pounding anecdotes bring his tale home. Ultimately, a damning anti-war tale without...more
While I was reading the preface of this book, this was my exact thought: “Wow, this guy is pissed off. This is going to be good.”

I wasn’t wrong. This book is good. It is also gut-churning, heart-wrenching, and devastating. I was riveted. I could hardly put it down. Crawford was clearly very angry when he wrote it, and I don’t blame him. He joined the National Guard to earn money for college. He never expected to be sent to fight a war overseas (and in my opinion he never should have been; that’s...more
Larry Bassett
Aug 31, 2013 Larry Bassett rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Larry by: Bill
Shelves: war
The Last True Story I’ll Ever Tell is a book of eighteen short stories about a young man from a small town in northeast Florida who fought the war in Iraq starting with the invasion to topple Saddam Hussein in 2003. The book was published in 2005 when many of us were just beginning to realize that this “war” might go on for some time. Young Americans who had come as warriors had become occupiers.

John Crawford is twenty-five and angry. He thought he had made a small commitment to the Florida Nat...more
A friend, Sean Coutain, gave me this book a couple years ago, and I didn't read it then because I was just back from Iraq and not interested. I finally picked it up last week and flew through it.

Crawford's experience was much different than mine. In part, because he was there at the start--it was the wild west and living conditions were at their most primitive. I had expected this book to be an indictment of the Iraq War, and maybe that's even what Crawford intended. Instead, however, I found i...more
Kat Fuchs
The Last True Story I'll ever tell by John Crawford was a great book. This book is about a college kid who was also in the National Guard. Before John could finish college he was deployed to Iraq. In Iraq John writes and expresses how he feels. He learns that after telling his story he will never tell another one again. John being forced to go to Iraq made him a stronger person. Readers get to understand his experience a little better in Iraq and also see how he changes when he goes back home.
It hit me hard, this story of John Crawford's military posting in Iraq with the Florida National Guard. My own son happened to be in the Florida National Guard, joining in order to get his college education like John Crawford did, just a couple of years after John. At one point he was short-listed to be sent to either Iraq or Afghanistan, I forget which. He managed to slide out of that one and after reading John's story I can't tell you how glad I am of that. But you know, I do know other people...more
A collection of possibly quasi-fictive vignettes and memories of the author’s tour patrolling the streets of Baghdad for over a year. He’s an extremely bitter man, and I was struck by how entitled and selfish he paints himself, how little empathy he shows. Even the subtitle, “an accidental soldier,” is misleading: he wasn’t drafted, he signed up for the National Guard. If he didn’t think that made him a soldier, he’s an idiot.

But throughout the book, his behavior and attitudes are shocking. He k...more
Tracey Cramer-Kelly
I know it’s a good book when I’m still thinking about it 10 days after I finished it. I was looking for brutal honesty and the raw emotional toll of war (not a factual history tome), and I got it in this book. Sometimes it was as much what WASN’T written as what was (the chapter near the end with the three young boys is a good example). That is a delicate balance for a writer and it was powerful. (Note: toning down the swear words and tightening up the sentence structure would have made it even...more
Kathleen Hagen
The Last True Story I’ll Ever Tell: An Accidental Soldier’s Account of the War in Iraq, by John Crawford, Narrated by Patrick Lawlor, Produced by Tantor Media, Downloaded from

John Crawford joined the Florida National Guard to pay for his college tuition; it had seemed a small sacrifice to give up one weekend a month and two weeks a year in exchange for a free education. But one semester short of graduating, and newly married, he was called to active duty, to serve in Kuwait, then on...more
Brandon Tong
Book Review: The Last True Story I’ll Ever Tell: An Accidental Soldier’s Account of the War in Iraq by John Crawford
“Hey Crawford, you got a piece of brain on your foot”. Florida National Guardsmen, John Crawford, was two credits away from graduation FSU. He was newly married and on his honeymoon when he was called to the front lines of the invasion force of Iraq. In between his patrols, he started writing stories about what happened to him and his squad. These stories became The Last True Sto...more
Visha Burkart
I could see where Crawford might have been in a writing class and someone said, "Hey, you're writing about your experiences as a soldier in war? Here, read this-" and hands him a copy of Tim O'Brian's The Things They Carried. While the title of Crawford's book and his final chapter are strongly reminiscent of O'Brian's essay "How to Tell a True War Story," it lacks the artistry, the finesse, the ironic tone of O'Brian's work. Crawford is, to put it bluntly (and in his own words): "pissed off."

Spencer Hargadon
It is a well written series of stories and anecdotes of Crawford's time serving in the military. What really gets you about the book is his honest no bullshit assessment of the war, he isn't trying to demonize the military for ruining his life, or make him out to be a galavanting hero, he's just telling you stories, true stories, or if not true, at least ones that he believes. His stories aren't lost in military jargon, and are accessible whether this is your first military book or your 50th. Th...more
This was a very eye opening book set in the earlier days of the Iraq invasion. It was incredibly sad to read the lack of organization the beginning of this war had for this group of National Guardsmen. I can't speak for the condition of active duty members, but it sure seems that these guys were treated as if they came from the bottom of the barrel. I am not surprised at how they reacted with Iraqi nationals. It's sad but that's history. Nothing atrocious was shared however in that situation, it...more
I recently ended my Active Duty military career and I was flooded with so many different thoughts about this book and the experiences of its author/soldier. The overwhelming thoughts were how proud I am to have been associated, in even the slightest ways, with the folks who get the job done, and the shame that some leadership lost sight of whole mission to focus on their own glory.
John Crawford's story caught my attention from the first paragraph of the Prelude and wouldn't let it go until I clo...more
Mike Gottert
Crawford was a member of the Florida National Guard and in The Last True Story I’ll Ever Tell he documents his time in Iraq. The thing that most stood out to me was how much this book sounded like the Vietnam memoirs I read years ago. If you changed Iraq to Vietnam, desert to jungle, and valium to marijuana, this would almost pass as a book about Vietnam. If I was a better writer I would probably write something about how this shows some grand meaning about the face of war, but I’m not, so I won...more
AMAZING! If anyone really wants to know and appreciate the American ground perspective of Iraq then I highly recommend this book. Warning: It is as raw, intense and honest as they come. Crawford also has a unique gift for putting his reader in his shoes without seeming contrived in the least. Any person responsible for any aspect of US foreign policy should be required to read this book, and quite frankly, any American voter.
I liked this one okay but it left a bit of an odd aftertaste in my mouth. I think maybe I was picking up on the author ambivalance toward his whole experience. Every man or woman's story of their military experience is valid and worth telling. It's important not just to read about the medal of honor winners but the regular soldiers too.
This was a great book. I really enjoyed the entire thing. I didn't agree with why he went into the Guard though. He shouldn't have even joined. But on a different note, the book was fantastic, I like how Johnny boy put the images into my head. He was so good at describing the setting and peoples reactions to things that had happened and how everything went down.
Like in the final chapter of the book, he was describing going to the festival, and right beside him was his beautiful wife and how she...more
Brad Stoddard
A poorly written collection of unrelated and pointless stories about a soldier's experiences in the War in Iraq. Maybe that's the point, that the war is random and pointless and we'll all be glad when it's over. (just like I was with this book. :)
I have never been to war but I like reading other people's stories who have been to war. John's story was interesting and provided a side to the Middle East War- Iraqi War- whatever the politically correct terminology is-- John provided a side that is not often portrayed in the media- from how some of the soldiers really felt about being at war and also how the locals ie Iraqi felt about the soldiers being there and how everyone interacted with everyone else.

I especially liked how at the end Joh...more
I really thought I would like this book. I really wanted to like this book. I had a really hard time actually finishing this book. I actually made myself finish it because I kept thinking "Surely at some point, it will be good." I generally enjoy personal memoirs, especially those who have been through something life-changing, such as going to war. Not this book! Firstly I disliked the overall negativity that permeated this book. Yes - I can understand some of his negative emotions towards the e...more
Peregrine 12
Aug 09, 2013 Peregrine 12 rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Those interested in Iraq war, soldier's POV
Shelves: history
There are a lot of books out there that make the Iraq war seem like a glorious, even enviable, experience to have. This is not one of them.

'Last True Story' was a strange book. In it, the author chronicles experiences he had while serving tours in Iraq with the National Guard, but the last chapter/entry in the book is a fictitious account of his fantasized homecoming, a homecoming that never happened. Then has says it's the last true story he'll ever tell.

On the plus side: Author writes with an...more
The book's lack of a narrative arc is probably true to Crawford's experience in Iraq and perhaps to many other war narratives: it is a tale of survival and that is all. If the narrative were structured to create some bigger impression, to make a "point," or even demonstrate some deep understanding of the experiences there, then it wouldn't be "true." (In this sense, Crawford's book suggests the influence of Tim O'Brien's famous story "How to Tell a True War Story." The book title suggests this t...more
Joseph Crawford documents an account of his tour in Iraq. He tells the story of his unit that was called up for support of the multi-national force invasion of Iraq, where he served for more than a year.

While his sub-title says “An accidental soldier’s account of the War in Iraq”, Crawford did, in fact, volunteer for military service, although most reservists who signed up in relative peace time never anticipated having to serve combat time and joined the reserves for the tuition benefit of a c...more
War memoirs are often better when the writer is jaded and angry. This is a good example of such a memoir.

Crawford doesn't write a continuous story of his time in Iraq. Instead he includes several smaller stories of him doing various things. The majority of them are not about his combat experience, but what he did while at the base and his interactions with civilians.

I didn't mind that there was not a lot of combat stories, they tend to get repetitive when written, but everything he writes is rea...more
Ricky Roach
The Last True Story I’ll Ever Tell is probably my favorite book of all time. The events the Crawford writes about are unlike anything I have ever heard. You can’t get this from watching the news or hearing it in the radio. I know that reading about what he went through is nothing like actually going through it but the book’s details were so real that I felt like I was actually there. From smell and color of a steam of Copenhagen to the hot and humid building that smelled like human feces, I felt...more
I don't normally give books a bad review, mostly because I'm very picky about the books that I read, but somehow I ended up reading this one. This is a story about a young man who "joined the Florida National Guard to pay for his college tuition". When he was actually asked to serve, he was appalled. I'm sorry, the military held up their end of the deal and you're going to write a book complaining about having to fulfill your end of the deal? The writing style of this book was impressive but I j...more
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