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Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk

3.79  ·  Rating details ·  29,010 ratings  ·  3,525 reviews
Billy Lynn's Long Half-Time Walk is a razor-sharp satire set in Texas during America's war in Iraq. It explores the gaping national disconnect between the war at home and the war abroad.

Ben Fountain’s remarkable debut novel follows the surviving members of the heroic Bravo Squad through one exhausting stop in their media-intensive "Victory Tour" at Texas Stadium, football
Hardcover, 307 pages
Published May 1st 2012 by Ecco
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Average rating 3.79  · 
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Will Byrnes
It is early in the latest Iraq war. SPC Billy Lynn, a 19-year-old, silver-star-recipient and bona fide war hero, is about to be honored at the Dallas Cowboys’ Thanksgiving home game, along with seven other members of Bravo company, for bravery in a battle that had the benefit of a Fox news crew with plenty of film. He is also the window through which we get a hard look at the reality of millennial America. That Ben Fountain succeeds so well in making Billy work both as a character in his own rig ...more
It’s probably a bad idea for the US military to allow the troops overseas to get the news from back home. I have this fear that someday the service men and women in places like Iraq and Afghanistan will finally snap after seeing the people they’ve pledged to defend are less interested in what they’re doing than TV reality shows and celebrity gossip. If the military ever decides that the pack of assholes back in America isn’t worth fighting and dying for, we could find all that hardware aiming ba ...more
Feb 06, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
No. "American Sniper" it isn't. Even "The Hurt Locker" or "Zero Dark Thirty" or the forgotten "Stop-Loss" aren't IT, either.

BUT this IS IT. (you gotta GOTTA READ this!)

Of course, you would have to go to literature for the most captivating, most REALISTIC depictions of the new American Soldier's psyche. Juicy and spine-tinglingly relevant, this uber-irreverent novel soars high with a grounded and visceral pulse, in an almost minute-by-minute account of society's push on the soldier (Billy Lynn),
I enjoyed this book more than I expected. And, I wasn't really sure for the first half or so if I was enjoying it or not. But, as it built up to the end I was enthralled - definitely the sign of a good book.

The delivery of the story was very unique. The entire story (except for a few flashbacks) takes place over the course of a Thanksgiving Day Dallas Cowboy's game during the Gulf Conflict post 9/11. It concerns American heroes being honored and the reality of life in America vs military life in
Well, that didn't take very long. Mounting frustration, a couple of critical (if unusual) goodreads reviews, and that's it -- I feel validated now, I'm quitting.

I wanted to blame the audio format, but that doesn't usually get in the way when I'm truly enjoying a book. I could say it's because it's a guy book, but I've liked some guy books in my day -- admittedly they were a harder sell, but not impossible for me to enjoy.

I guess the book just felt repetitive to me. Not much of a plot; rather a s
May 02, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction
A brilliant exploration of the dissonance and disconnect between military life and civilian life in a time of war. I can't recall the last time I've read a novel that skewers the American public so effectively and relentlessly.

This is the right novel for the last ten years of American wars, perhaps THE novel for the War on Terror/GWOT/Long War/whatever the Pentagon is calling it these days. There are several excellent memoirs and non-fictional accounts of life on the modern battlefield ("The Fo
Mar 01, 2013 rated it really liked it
It’s an old observation, but true nonetheless: Nineteen is a difficult age – old enough to get shot for your country, but not to drink beer. In Billy Lynn’s case, it’s an age where there’s more than that to sort out, but with little training to draw on to get it all figured. We’re pulling for you, though, Billy.

What SPC William Lynn was trained for was life in Bravo Company, ground troops in Iraq who showed exceptional bravery under fire. Footage of their valor found its way into American living
Oct 26, 2012 rated it did not like it
Shelves: shortlisted
There are few things less enjoyable than poorly-written satire, and there are few time periods less interesting to set a book in than the very recent (past decade or so) past. This book manages to combine both of these for a result that’s just as crappy as you’d imagine. It’s satire with all the subtlety of “Goofus and Gallant.”

The plot is simple: a small band of soldiers from Bravo squad (which is a misnomer, but that just shows the MEDIA DOESN’T UNDERSTAND THE MILITARY!) who responded heroica
Nov 08, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2016-reads
" 'If it's supposed to be this great Victory Tour then why can't he just stay home?
Mr. Whaley's voice was gentle. 'It's fine young men like your brother who are going to lead us to victory.'
'Not if they're dead.'

It took me much longer than I expected to finish Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk I couldn't put my finger on it at first, until I realized I bookmarked nearly every other page for the first 100 or so pages. This isn't a quiet book on balance: it crackles and pops and is aggressive an
May 23, 2012 rated it it was amazing
It is, perhaps, a fortuitous accident that I turned the last pages of Ben Fountain’s absolutely brilliant novel during Memorial Day…a day when rhetoric about courage, support, sacrifice, and patriotism overflows.

Billy Lynn – the eponymous hero of this book – is a genuine American hero. He and his fellow Bravo Squad members decimated an insurgency – caught on film by an embedded Fox News crew -- and became overnight sensations in a nation starved for good news about Iraq. They are brought home fo
Nov 27, 2016 rated it really liked it
This is a moving satirical take on the disconnect between the soldiers who fought in Iraq and the limited understanding of their reality by the American public. The Bravo squad of soldiers which achieved special bravery in their accomplishments in a meaningless sortie gets its five minutes of fame through some footage on the evening news, and the brass and politicians seize on its propaganda opportunities. The soldiers are tapped to take a publicity tour culminating in a half-time extravaganza a ...more
Nov 02, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audio
This novel, "Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk" , written by author Ben Fountain and narrated by Oliver Wyman, evoked a multitude of emotions in me. I have read many fictionalized accounts of war and I have to say that this was one I could really FEEL ... although the actual war account in the story lasts all of three minutes and forty-three seconds and is told through a flashback. This story is more about the members of Bravo Squad.... who after engaging in a fight with insurgents in Iraq and los ...more
Jan 28, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, war
"It is sort of weird being honored for the worst day of your life."
Billy Lynn

Bravo Squad, a group of young Iraq war heroes, is traveling the country on a publicity tour for the Army. They're to be put on display during the halftime show at a Dallas Cowboy's game on Thanksgiving Day. Wherever they go, they are greeted with patriotic platitudes, clapped on the back and wished well by a fawning public made up of Fox News viewers who want to thank them for defending faith, flag, and America's heartl
Peter Boyle
Feb 06, 2013 rated it really liked it
After surviving a bloody skirmish in Iraq, nineteen-year-old Billy Lynn returns to Texas a national hero. Footage of the firefight was uploaded by a US journalist and the ensuing viral sensation quickly made celebrities out of Billy and his fellow soldiers. Along with his comrades in Bravo Company, he is paraded around the country and hailed as a symbol of American hope and valour. The story focuses on one of the final days of the victory tour - Bravo are welcomed as guests of honour at a Dallas ...more
I’d happily fall in love with a book that was trying to capture and examine our contemporary reality. Politically, I absolutely agree with the themes highlighted (to death) in this book about the calculations behind going to war, about our society’s inane ‘priorities,’—everything. But Ben Fountain never lets me forget that he’s communicating his messages, that he’s making these oh-so-important statements. Instead of telling a good story or giving us a meaningful character study, all Mr. Fountain ...more
Khaled Hosseini
Dec 03, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Absolutely loved this book.
Billy Lynn is a hero…a gad-dam gen-u-wine hee-row…a nineteen-year-old Silver-Starred hero who watched his best friend die in his arms and got medalled for it. “Raped by angels” is how he and his fellow BRAVO team describe the firefights of their experience in “Eye-rack.” Now back stateside to a hero’s welcome…a two-week blitz through the swing states…culminating in talking a movie deal with a part-owner of the Dallas Cowboys. They are publicly lauded/humiliated during a sleet-filled losing game ...more
Jun 04, 2012 rated it it was ok
Wow. Five stars? Really? For this? I'm not trying to be a dick. I'm not trying to patronize. I don't mean, even, to be overly critical. It's just that there is no way that this book is a five star book. Think about it, people who have read it. Do you really mean to say that this book deserves THE BEST SCORE POSSIBLE? Are you willing to say that yes, this book deserves to be placed among the top eschelons of eternity? I mean, I'm just asking. I'm not saying that it's not a five star idea or that ...more
Adrian White
Apr 20, 2012 rated it it was amazing
If you saw and enjoyed the compelling TV series Generation Kill, then I think you will love this book. There are many outrageous claims made for the book on the back of the proof copy I read and, I have to say, they all stand up. This is classic literature that will stand the test of time; classic in the sense that it joins a long list of stories about the damage done to young men by a foreign war and the difficulties they face in re-adapting to their homeland. It is also a damning, lacerating d ...more
robin friedman
May 29, 2019 rated it it was amazing
The United States Themselves Are Essentially The Greatest Poem

Ben Fountain's 2012 novel "Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk" was an outstanding choice to read over this Memorial Day weekend, with its parades and commemorations of our country's many brave soldiers who didn't return home. This weekend, sadly, also apparently marked the last appearance of Rolling Thunder in Washington, D.C., ending a long Memorial Day tradition.

This novel has the Iraq War as a backdrop and is set on Thanksgiving Day a
Feb 11, 2013 rated it it was amazing
"THE DALLAS COWBOYS WELCOME HEROS OF AL-ANSAKAR CANAL!!!!!!!" is both a quote from, and a summary of, this literary novel that I loved and admired (keep this in mind the other 95% of the time, when I am petulantly disliking literary fiction).

The entire book, with the exception of one flashback, takes place during a single Super Bowl Sunday afternoon, when the Dallas Cowboys are playing host to eight Army grunts home on a cockeyed sort of "victory tour" after a fire-fight in which Billy's best f
May 16, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Fantastic and incisive social commentary about war and those take advantage of it--about the vast gulf between what war really is and what it's made out to be. The writing is just brilliant. ...more
Dec 18, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2014
It feels weirdly unpatriotic to like the Iraq War book written by a non-vet better than the one written by a guy who was there, but there it is: I like this better than The Yellow Birds, not that that's a bad book, but it's a little bit written at times. This one is both less forced and more engrossing.

It takes place over the course of a single football game, as Billy Lynn and his squad of war heroes are paraded around like propaganda monkeys. Flashbacks give you the gist of the engagement that
Nov 18, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: u-s-lit
Bravo squad was in a firefight with Iraqi insurgents at a place called Al-Ansakar Canal. Billy Lynn was conspicuously courageous amongst them, with a philosopher-sergeant 'Shroom' dying in his arms. The three or four critical minutes were captured on film by an embedded Fox News crew and broadcast world-wide, making the Bravo Squad, and particularly Billy, heroes. They go on a whirlwind celebration tour, perhaps cynically staged by the Army, and culminating in being showcased at halftime at a Da ...more
Feb 20, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Wickedly snappy satire that lays bare our notions of hero worship and all that it implies. Excellent.
Larry H
May 13, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Wow. Sometimes a book just knocks you for a loop when you're not expecting it. Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk is one of those books. I almost didn't read it because the early reviews I had seen, while immensely superlative, made me believe this was a book about soldiers at war. And while soldiers, and their war, play a big part in the book, at its heart this is a story about a young soldier confronting the realities of the world, his family, brotherhood, and love, all for the first time.

Danielle McClellan
Sep 27, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Danielle by: Martin McClellan
Shelves: favorites
My absolutely favorite book of the year. I am disappointed that it did not receive the National Book Award, for which it was a finalist. Paul Fussell once said (and this is a fairly loose paraphrase from memory) that it was impossible to speak clearly about war because the true facts of war are so gruesome and ghastly that people will turn from the page in horror unless you use a variety of literary devices to soften the blow.

Ben Fountain has found a dark, funny route into the big conversation
Nov 20, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: kindle-deals
Having a somewhat loose connection to the military lifestyle, I felt an instant connection to this book that goes deeper than a cursory glance just across the surface. It made BILLY LYNN’S LONG HALFTIME WALK real to me, yet I did have trouble initially getting into the story, because it’s told as much through flashbacks, bouncing in time from the present to the past, that I struggled initially with the author’s choice of storytelling. But once I caught on, I dove into the water headfirst, and I ...more
Nov 09, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2012
Fountain has a wonderfully engaging writing style, it bubbles along, mixing philosophical musings with pop cultural ephemera, and an eye for the wry telling detail. His characters are human in scale and sympathetic. Why only three stars? Well, for one, nothing happens in this book -- it is one comic but moving set piece after another all taking place over the course of a single football game. You keep waiting for the book's little murmurings of plot to build to a narrative flow, and that never q ...more
Jenny (Reading Envy)
I read this because it is a finalist for the 2012 National Book Award. I never would have picked it up based on the description, because I don't generally read war novels or watch war movies. This year, two of the five finalists have to do with soldiers recently returned from the war.

Billy Lynn is one of the Bravo Squad, home from one tour in Iraq on a "victory tour" after an exciting day dealing with insurgents was filmed and broadcast by Fox News. The entire novel takes place on Thanksgiving D
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Ben Fountain's fiction has appeared in Harper's, The Paris Review, and Zoetrope: All Story, and he has been awarded an O. Henry Prize, two Pushcart Prizes, and the PEN/Hemingway Award. He lives with his wife and their two children in Dallas, Texas.

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