Jan's Reviews > The Last True Story I'll Ever Tell: An Accidental Soldier's Account of the War in Iraq

The Last True Story I'll Ever Tell by John Crawford
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Sep 03, 11

bookshelves: non-fiction
Read in August, 2011

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 not the intent of the National Guard). He received his orders for deployment while he was on his honeymoon, two credits shy of graduating college and less than a year from the end of his Guard contract. He ended up stuck in Iraq for more than a year.

Yeah, I’d be pretty angry too.

Luckily for us, the anger he felt led him to write in a clear, strong, and honest voice. This is no book about the glories of the war. Crawford is brutal in his honesty, even though the picture it paints doesn’t make him or his fellow soldiers look particularly good. There’s drug and alcohol abuse, plenty of stupid decisions, and a shockingly callous attitude toward the plight of the Iraqi people. You would think that this would make you end up hating these men, but I never felt that way. Crawford is such a deft writer that I totally understood where these men were coming from, why they would feel the way they did and why they acted that way.

This is an ugly book, and yet, in its ugliness, there’s exquisite beauty.

In general, I’m not particularly inclined to include warnings for books. You should know what you’re getting into when you read the description on the jacket. But I think this one warrants a few:

1. There is A LOT of swearing in this book. These are soldiers, people. Expect a lot of F-bombs.

2. There is some very, very graphic violence in this book. Be advised that if I’m warning you of this, it’s pretty bad.

3. This book does not have a happy ending. I can only hope that Crawford’s life has improved greatly since he wrote the epilogue.
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