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The Good Soldiers by David Finkel
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Jan 30, 2010

it was amazing
Read from January 30 to February 06, 2010

Harrowing. Riveting. Unbelievably sad. David Finkel's all-access, on the ground reporting from the Iraqi War during "the surge" of 2007 into 2008 does a fantastic job of putting us with the 2-16 Infantry Battalion with which he was embedded, as they try to makes sense of a increasingly senseless situation, and get out of there, not just alive, not just without losing a hand, or a leg, or, in the case of one guy, both legs, one arm, one hand, ears, and eyelids, but with a measure of dignity and the ability to get on with life once they get back home. That last challenge seems to be why so many re-enlist... they just can't face normalcy, and the conversations they would have to have with loved ones about "what it was like." So few make it all the way back, from a daily routine of driving through hostile territory, no clear mission, thinking every second that NOW will be when the IED explode that kills them, watching their friends burn to death, seeing the look in a little girl's eyes as she watches her father's head explode from the bullets of a Marine. All of the awesome firepower, Marine preparation and pride, and hollow words of encouragement from leaders back home are nothing in the face of the realty of day-to-day Iraq. And it's all still going on, for so many, on both sides.
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Elizabeth Sulzby Your review is a wonderful example of how Finkel made these horrible events come to life. I remember each of those events so vividly, just as you did, and that's an amazing success for such a painful book. You were much more concise than I have been--and much more effectively. Thanks.


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