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Fives and Twenty-Fives

4.07  ·  Rating details ·  1,840 ratings  ·  307 reviews
It's the rule-always watch your fives and twenty-fives. When a convoy halts to investigate a possible roadside bomb, stay in the vehicle and scan five meters in every direction. A bomb inside five meters cuts through the armor, killing everyone in the truck. Once clear, get out and sweep twenty-five meters. A bomb inside twenty-five meters kills the dismounted scouts inves ...more
Hardcover, 400 pages
Published August 26th 2014 by Bloomsbury USA (first published August 1st 2014)
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4.07  · 
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 ·  1,840 ratings  ·  307 reviews

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Jul 04, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Disclosure - Served in Marines with Author.

Fives and Twenty-Fives is a conscientious modern war novel that accurately portrays the sacrifices young people give for their country and their struggle to cope. Pitre’s writing style is crafty and empathetic. His story-telling keeps you turning pages to learn more about the characters experiences during and after “The Long War.”

The characters in the novel express love of country and duty, but there is bitterness over giving everything for a cause tha
Mar 06, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Forgive my comparison of this with the 2014 National Book Award-winner Redeployment. Both books are eloquent, visceral, fictional accounts of soldiers' lives during the Iraq War, both on the battlefield and after they come home from their tours of duty. My vote for the most accessible and enthralling of the two works, though, easily goes to Michael Pitre's Fives and Twenty-Fives.

I liked Redeployment plenty, though I did have a few issues with it, mostly stemming from Klay's decision to present
Dave Hoover
Jul 09, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I was lucky enough to get my hands on an advance copy of this book. I recently separated from the Marines and was in Iraq during the time the book is set. In fact, I was on the same base - Al Taqaddum. I have to admit, reading a work of fiction about that was quite strange. I was a helicopter pilot on the base and was actually just down the road from the road repair crew. As far as authenticity goes - he nails it. The descriptions of the landscapes, the smells, the bureaucracy, and the varied pe ...more
Jul 03, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I read an early copy of this.

Thomas Barnett seemed to relish saying, in his “two armies” talks, that he likes his fighting force “young, male, unmarried, and slightly pissed off.” This is a book about what happens to the young and pissed off when they are at war, and how they return.

Each of the characters’ frustrations erupt from their struggle to understand the world and how it works, and each, in their own way, decides to do something. That’s what the young and pissed off do - they see things
Diane S ☔
Jun 14, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An honest and significant work highlighting those who served in the Iraqi war, their motivations for joining, their fears and their struggles trying to assimilate back into a normal life. It is narrated by three different men, the most interesting to me was Dodge, the Iraqi interpreter.
During the war these three men were part of a crew that filled in Iraqi potholes, where every pothole had a bomb that needed to be detonated. All the characters were complex and the description were very detailed.
Y. C.
Jul 23, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: netgalley
*** I received this from NetGalley in exchange for a honest review.***

War books fascinate me. Sometimes it's the history, sometimes it's the weapons and warfare and tactics, but mostly, it's the people. I enjoy reading about the trauma, the aftermath of a country, the losers (because no on really wins, do they?), their personal reasons for fighting, and whether they think the cause it's worthy. It's especially evident in a well-written fictional novel such as this.

Everyone should read at least o
Jenny  (Mama Bear Reads)
I listened to the audio book, and it was so well done. When the characters got choked up so did I. When they were excited, I was excited.
The writing was so authentic. The honesty of the story really came across. From the heartbreaking and grueling conditions of war to the unfair and cruel reality coming home, these character's stories really pulled at my heart.
I loved reading both the perspectives of the Marines and of Kateb. I think I looked forward to Kateb's chapters most of all.
I did not
Sep 18, 2014 rated it it was amazing
This book is destined to become the quintessential novel about the Iraq war, in much the same way as Tim O’Brien’s “The Things They Carried” has become the go-to book about the Viet Nam war experience. Each character is unique and brings with him stories which create real time experiences for the reader. The tale travels between the past and the present and tells the story of who they were when they entered the service and who they became when they departed. The reader will experience an array o ...more
David Carr
Sep 17, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: literary-fiction
One of the bookmarks I place in my Little Free Library bears these words of Ernest Hemingway: "All good books are alike in that they are truer than if they had really happened and after you are finished reading one you will feel that all that happened to you and afterwards it all belongs to you; the good and the bad, the ecstasy, the remorse and sorrow, the people and the places and how the weather was."

How the weather is in this book: it redefines the landscape because it is military weather,
Jan 18, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: war, iraq
Fives and Twenty-Fives
By Michael Pitre
5 stars
Publication date: 2014

Having just finished Fives and Twenty-Fives by Michael Pitre, I want to continue reading about Dodge, Doc and Donovan. I don't want to let them go. I want to know that they will be alright. That things will get better. That Dodge will be happy with a pretty girl in Tunisia and that they will all find a purpose and reason for what they did and a way to live with it. I think also of Zahn and how he tried to make everything rig
Jun 02, 2015 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Martin di Caro
Because my concerns are more with the people and the culture of the occupied country than with the US soldiers themselves, I have a problem with reading war novels by USians. That is why, last summer, I read 7 or 8 novels by Iraqi authors. Having banked those, I allowed myself to read this novel. I was wary and ready to put it down with the first offense.

But Pitre surprised me for two reasons. I will get to those. First, let me get my negative out of the way. He ends the book in the right and t
Oct 12, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I ordered this book for one of the libraries I work at because of the editorial reviews. After it was processed, I noticed it was on the shelf. Looking for a new read, I'm often disappointed when searching for that one book that is going be my new, great find. I looked at the cover, did a quick scan of the flap and put it back. I wasn't in the mood for something that was going to tear my heart apart. But, then my curiosity drew me back again. We as a nation are interested and have empathy for ou ...more
Kate Dunn
Jul 03, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Disclosure - Knows author, read advance copy

Don't shy away from this book if you're put off by war stories. The writing is open wide yet tender, and unflinching in the up close and visceral. It makes the day to day happenings of being a modern soldier necessarily tangible, especially for those of us who have no idea just how specific that is. But it then transcends so far beyond the experience that you're left gaping at how good intent, failed leadership, undue guilt, integrity and inertia can p
Jan 01, 2017 rated it liked it
PTSD & War are invariably complex and cannot be separated from the individuals who have experienced both. Pitre offers us a novel with a rare glimpse into war perspectives without giving one perspective more importance over another. Doc Pleasant, Leuteniant Donovan, Sergeant Gomez... many names, many stories, many outcomes. There is a high degree of authenticity involved. Pitre has a genuine writing style and serves us well-developed characters which can stand as characters on their own. The ...more
Feb 15, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This book follows three men that are part of the same platoon. Two men (Pete and Lester) are soldiers. Pete is a lieutenant that has to prove himself, as much to his men as to himself, that he is worthy of his rank. Doc (Lester) is only nineteen years old and knows saving people is his calling; he is a natural. The last man is Dodge. He is an Iraqi national and he is the interpreter.

Dodge, before the war occurs, is an English student. He carries with him a copy of The Adventures of Huckleberry
Aug 26, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-fiction
It's hard to review this excellent book, except to say something unhelpful like “It's excellent”. The book is fiction, of course, but since the book was written while the author, an Iraq War veteran, was studying in New Orleans and is about an Iraq War veteran who is studying in New Orleans, it's hard not to conclude that the book is an attempt to put his war experience into a form that is more easily understandable by others (and, possibly, himself). It has certainly accomplished this worthwhil ...more
Siobhan Fallon
Sep 14, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I am feeling a little abashed about not having read Five & Twenty-Fives sooner, but you know how it is, a new book hits your radar, you mean to read it, then there is another new book, and another, and sometimes the truly spectacular ones end up waiting for too long. And when you finally get to them you want to smack yourself for not having had put down everything on their pub day. Well, Five & Twenty-Fives is that book, and I am angry with myself that I let more than a year go by in ign ...more
Nov 02, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: arc, fiction
I loved this book start to finish. It wasn't a devastatingly emotional read, but I felt deeply invested in it, invested in its characters. I grew to care about these soldiers, and, of course, I wanted them to make it out okay. I wanted them to be whole, functioning, and (at least somewhat) happy people when they completed their service--and I was upset when not all of them were.

As much as I loved the people, they actually weren't the driving force of the book. I think the main focus was actually
Lou Fillari
This novel went from a light three stars to a strong three stars when I finished a chapter and realized I was holding my breath. I want to be picky and whine about how there weren't enough of these moments but I've never been involved in a military conflict so I'll refrain.

This book is four stories told by three characters in six points-of-view. With so much division, the POVs were kept compact and blunt which makes for an easy read and reassures one doesn't become too attached to any narrator.
Aug 10, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I was lucky enough to get a readahead copy. An amazing read that captures the action and boredom of war and just as effectively catches the protagonists coping back home. This is the tale of a platoon of engineers in Iraq. Their job is to fill in potholes on the roads of Iraq. The only problem is that the holes always conceal IED's. We meet the "LT," the Iraqi interpreter, the corpsman, and several NCO's. I like that the story is about combat service support Marines who are in "the shit" just as ...more
Jul 03, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: bloomsbury-books
Disclosure--I work for the publisher. This novel is a powerful, honest, and evocative. The characters grab you right away, particularly Dodge, the Iraqi interpreter, and stay with you long after you're done reading. The writing style is accessible but sophisticated. As I read I felt the intensity of being in combat situations as well as the despair and aimlessness of returned vets, wrestling with their pasts and trying to pursue different futures. I admire how the author is willing to show vulne ...more
Robert Moscalewk
Jan 23, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: owned
"The characters in this story are fictional, but their battles are real."

Military jargon is like abstract art. It says a lot, but on a first encounter it smells like paint. And in war fiction there are usually two ways to deal with it. You either use it sparingly so that it gets lost and your reader gets a little electric shock every time it comes up, or you aim for dramatic effect by overusing it (as Phil Klay does in OIF, a short story included in Redeployment) and by pointing out its dryness
Kevin Greer
Mar 30, 2018 rated it really liked it
This book hit close to home, mostly in how well it captured the sense of inadequacy a young officer feels when thrown into a situation where there is simultaneously too much, and too little, guidance from training and superiors. I'd highly recommend to anyone considering a Marine Corps officer program for an inside look at some key aspects of the job that aren't covered in the classrooms or training areas of Quantico.
May 20, 2014 rated it it was amazing
We’ve just passed the centenary of the start of World War I, which has inspired a wealth of articles, books, and commemorations. I wonder, though, whether any of us are capable of really understanding that war on an individual, visceral level. It’s the need for this sort of understanding—for a full recognition of what it is we are asking our youth to do when we send them to war—that inspires the best war literature. For World War I, All Quiet on the Western Front and Johnny Got His Gun are examp ...more
I purposely read Phil Klay’s Redeployment and this book back-to-back, to get a more well-rounded understanding of the experiences of veterans. While I liked the short story snapshots depicted in Klay’s book, I certainly found it easier to become more invested in the lives of the three main characters here in Pitre’s book.

This book is about a platoon assigned to fill potholes in Iraq, a thoroughly mundane, unsexy job, until you realize that every pothole first has to be cleared of bombs—and there
Jun 26, 2014 rated it really liked it
As I read Pitra’s novel about three men recently returned home from the war in Iraq, I had to constantly remind myself that I was reading fiction and not memoir. Everyone in the story felt so real and so authentic. You can tell Pitra himself was a soldier. It’s all in the details. The little things like gear being much heavier at the end of the day when it has absorbed sweat and dust and is weighted down with both. Those details that may seem minor added so much authenticity to the story.

The cha
Jul 09, 2014 rated it it was amazing
This is an important book to read regardless of your opinions on the war as it adds an essential addition to the discussions we as a community have about war. As a novel it tackles complex issues and gives a new look at the way we view what happened in Iraq and how we treat those who served and return. Fives and Twenty-Fives is debuting at an important time as we grapple with conversations about how to treat our returning veterans. I am reminded of recent articles discussing how soldiers feel ab ...more
John Van
Aug 26, 2014 rated it it was amazing
In an effort to provide full disclosure, I'll preface this review by stating that Michael Pitre is a life-long friend of mine. However, I have served twelve years as an officer in the Navy and have a degree in literature which, together, should serve to allow me to counter any favorable bias, to speak without hyperbole, and to not simply repeat what's been said by professional reviewers.

Fives and Twenty-Fives is an accurate and telling look into the events and aftermath of the Iraq war that is b
Oct 17, 2016 rated it really liked it
This book is a hard book to read. Oh, it's not overly technical, too wordy, excessively intellectual, boring or anything like that. It's too real, too vividly told, so close to the bone I was in tears at the end. The characters are well-drawn, lively people we have met, or imagine we would meet in these situations. Not stereotypes, but comfortably familiar. I emphasized with them, cared about them. A deep study of the varieties of war, the senseless politics therein, of the difficulty in returni ...more
Alida Hanson
Jan 05, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: war
Every year literary publications publish their best books of the year lists, and every year I wonder why certain books are nowhere to be found. This is one of those books. There was no buzz about it, probably just a really good review in an unglamorous publication like Booklist (likely the reason I bought the book for the library in the first place).

Our main character is an officer in Iraq. He leads a unit that clears roads. This means they clear every square inch in and around the road of bombs
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