Daniel's Reviews > Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk

Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk by Ben Fountain
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's review
Oct 14, 2012

really liked it
bookshelves: literary-fiction, satire
Read in October, 2012

An embedded Fox News team in Iraq captures battle footage that goes viral in America, making heroes of SPC Billy Lynn the remaining men of Bravo Company, second platoon, first squad (which is shortened to the meaningless "Bravo squad" by the Fox embed). These eight men are pulled out of Iraq as part of a morale-boosting Victory Tour, and we meet them in Dallas on the last leg of their cross-country trip. In addition to being fêted at the Dallas Cowboys game, they are also accompanied by a movie producer looking to recreate the story of Billy Lynn's heroism.

What follows is a painfully illuminating juxtaposition of realities. The abstract civic duty of supporting the troops is constantly placed against the foil of American life, and the results are rarely pretty. Worst of all, perhaps, is that the ugliest incidents are the most believable. This book excels in capturing the moment where lip service gives way to reality, making it all too evident that soldiers who put their life on the line every day for the American way of life will always be kept on the periphery by certain people.
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