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Blood Makes the Grass Grow Green: A Year in the Desert with Team America

3.75  ·  Rating details ·  326 Ratings  ·  43 Reviews
Outrageous, hilarious, and absolutely candid, Blood Makes the Grass Grow Green is Johnny Rico’s firsthand account of fighting the Taliban in Afghanistan, a memoir that also reveals the universal truths about the madness of war.

No one would have picked Johnny Rico for a soldier. The son of an aging hippie father, Johnny was overeducated and hostile to all authority. But whe
Paperback, 344 pages
Published April 24th 2007 by Presidio Press
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Dec 14, 2008 rated it liked it
I have to admit that my feelings on this one are a bit mixed. Not so much for the book itself. Johnny Rico does a good job of portraying his experiences during his year deployment to Afghanistan. His style of writing is self-critical, brutally honest, and self-deprecating. There's not a whole lot of sugarcoating going on here. And Rico does do a good job of pointing out the contradictions and errors with which the America War on Terror has been conducted.

It's just that the book I read immediate
Kelly B
Sep 12, 2008 rated it really liked it
This was hilarious and sometimes, disturbingly hilarious, but hilarious all the same. From the cover, you would think this guy believes himself a total aggressive badass, but it is not so. He has two masters degrees and still decided to join the Army, leading him to spend a year in Afghanistan, experiencing the absurdity of the ways of the military. He was clearly heavily influenced by Catch-22 and Fight Club, which is just fine by me. I read this in a day and a half, and only felt a little sill ...more
Wow, I personally am familiar with the areas, FOB's and units mentioned in this book as well as the authors tour. I have to say, GROSS changes in facts, what the author purports to be emails about missions and day to day activity to family back home would not have been allowed to be emailed simply because of the security risks involved. Also the picture the author paints of Infantry as dumb, uncaring and undisciplined is untrue, while some of the events may have happened they certainly would not ...more
May 02, 2012 rated it liked it
Very candid nice style of writing. And I liked this paragraph enough to retype it here:

"Donkeys...I've decided that donkeys are universally cute. Really cute. So cute that donkeys defy any arguments of preferences being relative. When you pet their noses, they blink their eyes and bashfully look away as if embarrassed. And when donkeys hee-haw, they have their mouths and lips curled up as if they are smiling. Boyfriend and girlfriend donkeys rest their heads on each other's rumps and fan each ot
Sep 30, 2009 rated it did not like it
Let's just say I was disappointed in this adult war memoir. Looks pretty exciting by the cover and you can't beat the title, but the author is not someone I want to spend time with. Why? He's whiny and believed he needed to write a book about his year in Afghanistan with the C Company, 2nd Battalion, 5th Infantry of the 25th Infantry Division. I really can't believe it was published. I guess publishers are desperate for true war memoirs, but Johnny Rico doesn't deliver anything. I can't waiting ...more
Sep 09, 2009 rated it it was ok
This memoir was certainly engrossing and interesting, but also depressing. The author joined the Army because of his personal belief that one should not take citizenship for granted. A nice motivation, but he never expresses why, or even if, he loves his country. His descriptions of fellow soldiers seem like caricatures--they are ignorant rednecks, intelligent liberals who joined for the benefits, or empty-headed testosterone-filled warmongers. In his two years of active duty, were there no real ...more
I liked this book. It was raw, funny and realistic. Not every soldier is the best this or most decorated that. A lot of ordinary guys and gals go and do their time and serve their country. Maybe they don't get involved in anything heroic other than that they stepped up and said I'm willing to serve and I accept that I might die for my country. Being ordinary people like most of us, they hope they don't have to. Their stories are just as valid as anyone else's. Johnny Rico's is funnier than most ...more
Jun 26, 2008 rated it liked it
I currently finished this book. I believe it has a very honest tone to. Being prior service and knowing how people where I think this is a very honest portrayal of a serviceman in regular service in Afghanistan. this isn't a glory book of Rambo stories its honest.
Sep 26, 2011 rated it really liked it
First things first. If you have never served, you will not like this book. If you have served but were not Infantry, but one of the support services, you will not like this book. I served 8 years as a 11B. This book is funny!!! It is also way too realistic. I thank the God's that I never served with such a outfit as the author, but I whole heartedly believe the politic's from the higher up's. It's not called hurry up and wait for nothing.
If you are the wife or girlfriend of a ground pounder, thi
Nov 08, 2009 rated it it was ok
Few passages in the book felt anything more than contrived. The emails to his parents included between chapters are probably the best and most candid parts of the book, where he's not trying to impress his audience with his wit (and thus he comes off as far more witty than in the rest of the book) nor does he attempt to shove any grandiose statements down the throat of his reader (and thus comes off as far more poignant). If he had just compiled all of the emails he wrote back to the states I th ...more
Nov 05, 2007 rated it really liked it
Kennedy's 'Bay of Pigs' messed up my generation's plans for their future.
Bush's whatever messed up everybodys past, present and future; of course he's against reinstating the draft as he would have to face his own dodging - didn't join up until he could play at being commander in cheat, yes cheat.
Enjoyed the book, same old military nonsense. For further laughs check out 'No Time for Sergeants' and 'Biloxi Blues' and of course'MASH'. If your pressed for time, watch the movies.
Apr 04, 2009 rated it did not like it
It's a military book so I expect the language, I was even prepared for the "guy talk" that goes along with a bunch of men spending time together. However, the book is a great injustice to what the military really does, and I think the author should evaluate himself so harshly. If the whole book had been as good as the last chapter then it may not have been A COMPLETE WASTE OF TIME.
Jul 05, 2010 rated it liked it
It was alright. It irked me though that he said from the beginning that he embellished stuff, but also said that things that seemed like they had to be embellished weren't. After reading Generation Kill and Blackhawk Down, it just wasn't up to snuff
Dec 29, 2008 rated it liked it
Its kinda like Holden Caufield goes to war.
Apr 16, 2018 rated it really liked it
A really sarcastic book about a really sensitive topic like war . Written with absolute grit and sense of humor considering the situation was not the best . If you don’t like people that tell it like it is with a lot of gore then don’t read this book !
Aug 14, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Inappropriately hilarious! One of the best examples of the life of many service members sent to war in the last 25 years. They don't all shoot downrange and engage the bad guys.
Mar 03, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I fully appreciated this book for what it was meant to be: brutally honest, yet entertaining. Were things exaggerated for comical effect? Probably. Accuracy aside, I felt as if the author went deep into something rarely explored which is the political aspect from the view point of an enlisted soldier; a grunt if you will. Politicians, generals, academics, and journalists have all written scores of volumes on the political side of war, and there have been scores upon scores of a “what war is like ...more
Jun 06, 2013 rated it it was ok
-I hope the Army isn't filled with nearly as much unintelligent chaos as Rico states, though in all probability it is. Institutions that uphold rules over common sense seem to be full of unintelligent chaos.

-The chapter on the kitten just filled me with disgust. Anyone that cruel to animals deserves to be hit by an IED. That's probably unpatriotic of me to say, but whatever. That poor kitten did not deserve to be violently thrown against a wall for the amusement of a couple of bored soldiers.

Steve Woods
Jun 18, 2017 rated it really liked it
Best military in the world huh! When serving in Vietnam in the 70's I had some opportunity to observe the American military in action. It didn't impress me much then. Poor field discipline and often very poor performance, (with some notable exceptions, mainly USMC and Special ops people). The military as a whole seemed to be a great blundering murderous machine with little or no understanding of the war they were fighting. Often very poorly led, poorly supported and poorly trained. Looks like no ...more
May 09, 2016 rated it really liked it
A memoir of the recent, uh, mess, using a nom de plume from a Heinlein novel? Of course I grabbed this one while wandering around the library.

And then I found out that this guy and are were on weirdly parallel tracks. I am pretty sure we're about the same age, he's from Iowa, he drifted around in college for way too long, and he toyed with joining the military. Except he actually changed his name to Johnny Rico. Dang. And then he actually joined up.

He describes pretty much exactly what I was le

What I read so far was a pretty blunt - sometimes a bit forced - account of this guy's experience joining the military at 26. He's the odd man out in so many ways, and he doesn't try to polish this up. Some of the things he's said about human nature and behavior, I'm right on the same page.

I just can't read this right now. I had a feeling when the kitten was introduced earlier on that he wasn't going to be long-lived, but reading the reviews, I ended up inadvertently reading the details and I w
Kaite Stover
This book is on my top ten for 2007. And not because my brother is in the Army and deployed godknowswheretheywon'ttellhisfamily. But because when my brother tells Army stories, these are the stories he tells and everyone in the family is alternately gasping in disbelief and howling with laughter, even the tweenies.

I love Rico's tone, his appreciation for the job he's doing and his fellow soldiers and his honest depictions of what life is like. I think teens with an interest in the service would
Claire Hilaire
Darkly humorous, this memoir is an honest and unique perspective on the war. This is not a book steeped in patriotism, heroism or feel good American values (though at times all three are present). If you are a patriot that feels strongly about the value of the US military this book can be hard to get through at times. But in the end, it is not anti-America, or anti-military even. It is the honest perspective of one soldier serving in Afghanistan.

The perspective and conclusions of the author als
Joel Warren
Aug 21, 2011 rated it really liked it
Great read! Rico's perspective on the war is one that is more common with our generation. Educated and intelligent, paired with the ability to enjoy the absurd moments that come along while deployed (in the military in general). Our generation's concept of war is so drastically different than previous generations...this book does a wonderful job of laying that out in a real, and truthful manner, all while making it both thought provoking and hilarious.

Vets and non-vets alike will enjoy this boo
Jeffrey Rice
Jan 20, 2014 rated it really liked it
I've read a lot of first person military history this one was by far the most ammusing. He didn't just talk about the talk about the positive aspects of the military and warfare, in fact he barley mentioned them, instead he wrote about the stupid crap that people do every day. It brought a smile to my face reading about his experiences and rememberig all the stupid stuff me and the people I served with did while I served and was deployed. This book is a great look at the real and not quite as "c ...more
Apr 07, 2009 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
Not as spellbinding as the book written by the Russian WWII soldier(which title I can't remember), but interesting nontheless. It was nice to finish this depiction of mostly dysfunctional infantrymen then turn on the news and hear of the navy seals sharpshooters pegging the Somali pirates. This is just one picture of the military, and it's not a pretty one. These soldiers seem to make their own hell in bowing to the least common denominator, though Rico seems thoughtful enough and tries to maint ...more
May 25, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Interesting book.

It starts out slow, but picks up.

Most books about the war in Afghanistan are positive and pro military, not his book.

This book has entertaining stories about the army. Also, this book involves a dead kitten, but there are no pictures of the dead kitten. If you an animal lover, it is OK to read it, just skip the part of the dead kitten. If I remember correctly, the kitten's name was Brian. Who names a cat Brian? The same guy that writes a 4 out of 5 star book!
Suzie Quint
Sep 19, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
This is an interesting book and, like some other reviewers, I have mixed emotions about this book. I'm not convinced the author is a reliable narrator. I suspect some things are exaggerated for, I don't know, dramatic effect? There are places where it feels farcical. Other things come through as solid and real, such as his fear when he believes he's about to die. If you decide to read it, I recommend taking it with a grain of salt.
Amanda Jessen
Jun 29, 2015 rated it really liked it
Not too bad. There were some humorous parts. But there were also some totally unbelievable sections. I know everyone is entitled to their own opinion but why join the Army if you knew that you were going to hate it. I guarantee if he would have went officer (which he could have easily done) he wouldn't feel so damn sour.
Jul 23, 2008 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
Liberal decides to become combat infantry killer, documents absurdity of Army life (ie, not given any ammo after they are attacked to help prevent future attacks; needing to buy an extra $25K in life insurance for the final 30 minutes of army career because the computer doesn't believe he has enough)

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“Donkeys...I've decided that donkeys are universally cute. Really cute. So cute that donkeys defy any arguments of preferences being relative. When you pet their noses, they blink their eyes and bashfully look away as if embarrassed. And when donkeys hee-haw, they have their mouths and lips curled up as if they are smiling. Boyfriend and girlfriend donkeys rest their heads on each other's rumpt and fan each other's faces with their tails. And kid donkeys, the size of an average dog, trot around with big smiles on their faces and floppy, dangly, long donkey ears. Too cute.” 2 likes
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