Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Good Soldiers” as Want to Read:
The Good Soldiers
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The Good Soldiers

4.24  ·  Rating details ·  6,648 Ratings  ·  842 Reviews
It was the last-chance moment of the war. In January 2007, President George W. Bush announced a new strategy for Iraq. He called it the surge. “Many listening tonight will ask why this effort will succeed when previous operations to secure Baghdad did not. Well, here are the differences,” he told a skeptical nation. Among those listening were the young, optimistic army inf ...more
Hardcover, 287 pages
Published September 15th 2009 by Sarah Crichton Books (first published January 1st 2009)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The Good Soldiers, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about The Good Soldiers

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
Rating details
Sort: Default
Paul Bryant
Aug 04, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Revived review. I watched American Sniper and whatever the movie's merits, as usual, there was no attempt to give a political context to the horrors on display. This great book does that. So if anyone wanted to find out exactly what the tours of duty in Baghdad in those years were really like, and what was going off in post-Shock & Awe Iraq, and why the troops were there, read this.

Note - this review was written in 2011, way before the rise of ISIS.


This is a great book, a horror story
Feb 10, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites, read-2015
“As of today, 6,845 Americans have died in Iraq and Afghanistan and over 900,000 Americans have been injured in both wars…According to the Pentagon, more than half to two-thirds of Americans killed or wounded in combat in both Iraq and Afghanistan have been victims of IED explosions. As stated in The International Business Times, we’ve reached a ‘grim milestone’ after two failed wars…” – H.A. Goodman, The Huffington Post

A few days ago, I was keyed up to finally start reading Thank You for Your
May 10, 2010 rated it it was amazing
As much as I liked this book, I hated it, too. You see, my husband was in the same brigade as 2-16. He was not at FOB Rusty, but at another FOB as part of the surge. We haven't talked much about what he saw during his two deployments. He isn't an infantryman, never has had to patrol, etc. However, he had to go outside the wire, as any and all soldiers are wont to do. Until this book, I could never imagine what that entailed.

My heart breaks for the soldiers of 2-16. The ones who were killed and
Will Byrnes
Up close and personal, The Good Soldiers is a brutal, bloody, real portrait of contemporary war, complete with excrement-filled trenches, good intentions, too many severed human parts, and some questionable leadership. It is as disturbing as it is informative.

What did the surge in Iraq look like from the inside? How do you get the locals to trust you? How do you patrol an area when your vehicles are constantly being blown up by IEDs and other deadly devices? How do you sustain an optimistic out
Feb 11, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
My goodness......this book was just incredible!
It's incredible that most if the soldiers in this story are
aged between 19 and 22 years of age!
It's incredible that so many died in such a horrible way!
It's incredible that so may were horrendously injured and
are on this day still young men and trying to deal with
loss of limbs and brain injuries!
It's incredible that so many avoided physical injury and
are still young men trying to deal with post traumatic
stress disorder!
It's incredible the ones who m
Oct 04, 2009 rated it liked it
Dear Goodreads Web Designer:

Your star rating system needs a new button. Perhaps completely off the scale, a little red x labeled "fucking painful, read it anyway." Or something along those lines.

Sincerely, Kate

I didn't like this book. I don't think anyone could like such a bloody first hand look at an army regiment in Baghdad during the Surge. This is a very painful account, which makes me credit and also dislike it. Because any non-sociopath reading about the gazebo at the Brooke Army Medical
Some of you may remember the book Blood Makes the Grass Grow Green where I started a blog comment war with a friend of the author. I just couldn't stand the attitude of the writer and didn't believe that it was a true memoir. I just didn't think that the war in Afghanistan was really what he said. So I wasn't looking forward to reading this novel by a Pulitzer Prize winning author, because I figured it would be another liberal take on why war is bad.

But, oh, I was wrong. This is one of the fines
Oct 26, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: everybody, but especially Bush, Cheney, Obama, Biden, Gates & everybody at the Pentagon right now
A sad book, but very powerful. An astounding piece of journalism that reads like the finest fiction. Everybody, but especially those people who make decisions about the war - any war - should read it.

I would also like to recommend it to all the students who were in my interactive design class, or were taking classes in my program between the spring of 2007 and the spring of 2008. Why? Here's the answer . (It's my extensive review of the book, but I feel this isn't the right place for it.)

Scott Belsky
Nov 10, 2009 rated it it was amazing
He pulled a piece of copper shrapnel out from the webbing of his fingers. He wore a short sleeve shirt to show off the zigzag scars along his arms. He popped a fake eye made to look like the crosshairs of a rifle scope into his hollow eye socket. He said, “I want people to know the price of war” (210).

This is just one of the wounded soldiers David Finkel writes about in his brutal but compelling book The Good Soldiers. The book chronicles the troops of the 2-16, one of the battalions who served
Sep 20, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: military
My son was in this battalion and is an admirer of the battalion commander, "Col K" as everyone calls him. I had heard many of the stories in this book but not in their totality. David Finkel has written an intense, compelling, and emotional account that succeeds in covering the war on so many facets simultaneously: strategic, operational, tactical, homefront, and the Iraqi perspective as well. A map would have been nice but this was not an account written to stop and reference maps, but to be re ...more
Sep 23, 2011 rated it it was ok
This is a not book about platoon level combat despite what the book blurb says. It is a book about soldiers, Iraqis, others getting blown up, maimed, shot, killed, ruined without any overarching theme or story other than it is due to the surge. Here is a journal entry from one of “The Good Soldiers”, which pretty much sums up the tone of the entire book.

“I’ve lost all hope. I feel the end is near for me, very, very near.
Day by day my misery grows like a storm, ready to swallow me whole and take
Jan 11, 2017 rated it really liked it
This is the first book since The Things They Carried that made war uncomfortably--palpably & emotionally--present for me. Not having personal experience of war, I cannot judge if this is an accurate portrayal. What I can say is that the vision of young men in combat that Finkel offers is powerfully evocative, complex & devastating. .
Anne Tommaso
Aug 19, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
What a powerful book. Almost every description and detail is emotionally moving in some way, and there are some that are so, so tragic. I had to take breaks to process what I was reading. David Finkel's writing is excellent and well crafted. With humility and respect for his subjects, Finkel lets the unbelievable details, language of the soldiers, and the perspective and thoughts of Ralph Kauzlarich speak for themselves. There is so much human suffering and human dignity in this book.
Elizabeth Sulzby
Dec 30, 2010 rated it it was amazing
In-depth study of one battalion deployed to hardest part of Baghdad from beginning of "surge," David Finkel's The Good Soldiers (2009) is one of the most engaging, best written, and most revealing of the Iraq/Afghanistan books. Finkel takes the reader into the points-of-view of all levels of this battalion's experiences and context.

Note: I am not going to use names in this review to avoid spoilers. I am also accepting the author's reporting as factually based. I have some background knowledge w
Stephen Dorman
Dec 16, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: reviews
Like a number of books on the Iraq war this has it's flaws. As an embedded reporter it's more or less inevitable that Finkel can only provide a narrow US perspective on events. He is, generally, unflinching in doing so and the book reads well.

You will however search in vain for any but the most cursory Iraqi perspective. Injuries and deaths of US soldiers are dwelt on at great length, Iraqis, by and large, die off-screen. Voiceless, faceless, lifeless.

That said, reading between the lines can giv
Mar 25, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
"La polvere, la paura, l'elevato livello di allarme, l'isolamento: questi erano gli aspetti del surge che i soldati conoscevano, e quanto più ascoltavano l'audizione, tanto più l'effetto era surreale. 'Quella gente non ha idea di quanto stia andando male da queste parti' pensò a un certo punto Cummings. Negli Stati Uniti la guerra era motivo di discussione. In Iraq la guerra era guerra."

Negli ultimi mesi, complice anche un bellissimo laboratorio iniziato all'università, la guerra sta riempiend
Mikey B.
Nov 05, 2012 rated it really liked it
This is very graphic account of the Iraq war from the ground perspective of the American soldier. I am not exactly sure why this title was chosen because I don’t get any feeling of goodness coming out of these 273 pages. Instead soldiers die horrifically, are bodily mutilated and will suffer for the rest of their lives. The soldiers who do survive without physical disabilities will doubtless experience deep mental anguish for the duration of their lives. Many of them were taking sleeping pills d ...more
Beautifully done and crushingly sad. From their arrival in Iraq for the 2007-2008 "surge" to their departure 15 months later, the book chronicles the experiences of one Army battalion's soldiers, from the commanding officer to the most junior troops, and their families, including the deaths and maimings and in some cases their slow psychological and spiritual disintegration. For me, this was one of those books that left me just sitting after I finished it, unable to stop thinking about the stori ...more
Jan 30, 2010 rated it it was amazing
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 t ...more
Oct 01, 2009 rated it really liked it
How does one describe a war? Was there ever a war that seemed like a success? Oh yes--I remember now. The one Bush,Jr declared finished after a month or two.

Imagine you are lying flat on the hot, dusty surface of a road east of Baghdad, in Rustamiyah. Like an IED, say, or an EFP. (Improvised Explosive Device or Explosively Formed Penetrator) Imagine you take a picture of the world from that viewpoint. I felt Finkel's book allowed us to view the war in Iraq from a similar vantagepoint. A single
Mike Kershaw
Dec 01, 2012 rated it really liked it
This is a book about a Mech Battalion in Baghdad during the Surge and I think adequately captures the perspective of a group of Soldiers at this time of the war. I know the battalion commander personally and can attest that, to the extent possible, it captures the challenges faced by battalion commanders during this period as well. The book is insightful in capturing the Soldiers attitudes as they deal with the struggle against an urban insurgency in Baghdad during this period. Another book, mor ...more
Now here is a book that will turn your hair white.
It is a confronting book and had me so depressed by the closing chapters that I wanted to find a bar. And get so completely wasted to drown out my misery....and I don't even drink. That's how much it got under my skin.
Dropped a star. Really wanted to give it 5. In the end, there were a few things the author did that I didn't like and I made the tough choice to drop a star. 4 stars is still a top rating in my book though.
Jun 20, 2011 rated it really liked it
Wow. This book was so difficult to read, even though it had a lot going for it. The writing style was excellent. I felt like I got to know the people featured in the opening chapters. The author seemed to do a superb job getting into the mindset of these soldiers and showing the shift from hopeful optimism (we're going to win this war) to grim reality (friends are dying every week, and for what?). Lt. Col. Ralph Kauzlarich is often quoted as saying, "It's all good." Later in the book, after losi ...more
Jul 28, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: everyone
I've driven past Fort Riley, the central Kansas army base, dozens of times during visits to my in-laws near Dodge City and from the Interstate the base always looks eerily empty. But this nonfiction book about Fort Riley infantry soldiers (the ones that serve the really scary way, with their feet on the ground) in Iraq during some of the worst months of "the surge" in 2007-2008 - offers a painfully in-depth look at the struggle these young guys, some teen-agers, go through at war and at home.

Jan 14, 2010 rated it it was amazing
David Finkel, a reporter who lived with an Army battalion during the Iraqi surge, describes in great detail some of the tragic events that took place during their deployment and the backstories of some of the soldiers affected by those events. His narrative does not give a political opinion either way; rather, the theme that he does make very clear in his book is that the political pundits (both Republican and Democrat) were (and are) out of touch with the reality of the Iraqi ground war. One th ...more
Liza Gilbert
Dec 13, 2009 rated it it was amazing
I really hate reading about war. I find it nauseating, and I find the whole process of combat stupid.

That said - if I had to read a book about the Iraq war, I'm glad it was this one.

I was blown away by the author's organization. Although the story is told chronologically, it tells the stories of dozens of different soldiers yet remains very organic in how those histories are told.

There are definitely some sections that one should not read while eating, before eating, after eating, or while think
Nov 12, 2010 rated it really liked it
When I bought this book the lady at the register told me, "You're the first woman to ever buy this book!" Unfortunately no special prize comes with that. But I highly recommend this book to peoples of all genders. I've tried to read several books about the Afghanistan/Iraq wars, but I was never very interested in the long backstory and all the laborious details about politics and behind-doors meetings and whatnot. This book ignores all of that and takes the reader directly to the soldiers on the ...more
Kristen Lemaster
Dec 08, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: history
I think this is a must-read for every American, especially those who have family or friends serving in the military and who have been somehow touched by the war on terrorism since 9/11. This is such a heartbreaking and honest portrayal of the real price of war - like The Things They Carried, but more factual while still retaining that engaging storytelling aspect. I cried and laughed and kept reading because you realize sometimes that's all you can do, just keep going, like these soldiers do, th ...more
Sep 08, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Susan by: all Americans
Shelves: 2011-reads, audio
Each year, my daughter's university chooses a theme for the freshman writing seminar and assigns a reading to go along with the theme. I like to read the books also as the selections tend to be outside my normal choices and they broaden my knowledge and thinking on the topic. The Good Soldiers was the book chosen this year. I found it to a description of the war in Iraq that was very painful to listen to. I brought my experiences as a mother to the reading and found it so difficult to read about ...more
Bookmarks Magazine
Dec 02, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: jan-feb-2010
Although the writing on the war effort in Iraq and Afghanistan has been solid—Doug Stanton's recent Horse Soldiers: The Extraordinary Story of a Band of US Soldiers Who Rode to Victory in Afghanistan (2009), Thomas Ricks's Fiasco (**** Nov/Dec 2006), and Rajiv Chandrasekaran's Imperial Life in the Emerald City (**** Selection Jan/Feb 2007) come to mind—David Finkel's unflinching reporting brings an immediacy to the war experience that critics welcomed as necessary (despite more than a few uncomf ...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • Joker One: A Marine Platoon's Story of Courage, Leadership, and Brotherhood
  • The Forever War
  • Kaboom: Embracing the Suck in a Savage Little War
  • Black Hearts: One Platoon's Descent Into Madness in Iraq's Triangle of Death
  • Final Salute: A Story of Unfinished Lives
  • The Unforgiving Minute: A Soldier's Education
  • The Gamble: General David Petraeus and the American Military Adventure in Iraq, 2006-2008
  • We Were One: Shoulder to Shoulder with the Marines Who Took Fallujah
  • No True Glory: A Frontline Account of the Battle for Fallujah
  • In a Time of War: The Proud and Perilous Journey of West Point's Class of 2002
  • Not A Good Day To Die: The Untold Story of Operation Anaconda
  • Cobra II: The Inside Story of the Invasion and Occupation of Iraq
  • War
  • Imperial Life in the Emerald City: Inside Iraq's Green Zone
  • My War: Killing Time in Iraq
  • The War I Always Wanted: The Illusion of Glory and the Reality of War: A Screaming Eagle in Afghanistan and Iraq
  • House to House: An Epic Memoir of War
  • Ambush Alley: The Most Extraordinary Battle of the Iraq War
David Finkel is a staff writer for The Washington Post, and is also the leader of the Post’s national reporting team. He won the Pulitzer Prize for explanatory reporting in 2006 for a series of stories about U.S.-funded democracy efforts in Yemen. Finkel lives in Silver Spring, Maryland, with his wife and two daughters. Email him at

Nonfiction Deals

  • The Man from the Train: The Solving of a Century-Old Serial Killer Mystery
    $14.99 $2.99
  • Real Artists Don't Starve: Timeless Strategies for Thriving in the New Creative Age
    $9.99 $1.99
  • Never Stop Walking: A Memoir of Finding Home Across the World
    $5.99 $1.99
  • Life Lessons from Matthew
    $5.99 $1.99
  • The Last Founding Father: James Monroe and a Nation's Call to Greatness
    $11.99 $3.99
  • Whatever It Takes: Geoffrey Canada's Quest to Change Harlem and America
    $9.99 $2.99
  • The Voice of Knowledge: A Practical Guide to Inner Peace
    $9.99 $2.99
  • My Mother Was Nuts
    $5.99 $1.99
  • Brotherhood: Dharma, Destiny, and the American Dream
    $7.99 $0.99
  • Final Vows
    $9.99 $2.99
  • Chosen by a Horse: a memoir
    $9.99 $1.99
  • Playing for Keeps: Michael Jordan and the World He Made
    $17.99 $1.99
  • John Quincy Adams
    $12.99 $3.99
  • Easy Soups from Scratch with Quick Breads to Match: 70 Recipes to Pair and Share
    $15.99 $2.99
  • By Myself and Then Some
    $11.74 $1.99
  • The Fifth Agreement: A Practical Guide to Self-Mastery (A Toltec Wisdom Book)
    $9.99 $2.49
  • Shakespeare Never Did This
    $6.99 $1.99
  • No Compromise: The Life Story of Keith Green
    $6.99 $1.99
  • The Guns of August
    $8.99 $1.99
  • Wish You Happy Forever: What China's Orphans Taught Me About Moving Mountains
    $14.74 $1.99
  • The Return: Fathers, Sons and the Land in Between
    $12.99 $1.99
  • The Prize: Who's in Charge of America's Schools?
    $12.99 $2.99
  • Leaving Microsoft to Change the World
    $12.74 $1.99
  • People Over Profit: Break the System, Live with Purpose, Be More Successful
    $13.49 $0.99
  • The Crusades: The Authoritative History of the War for the Holy Land
    $9.24 $1.99
  • The Lost Painting
    $12.99 $1.99
  • The Supreme Gift
    $2.99 $1.49
  • Fly a Little Higher: How God Answered One Mom's Small Prayer in a Big Way
    $9.99 $1.99
  • Helping Children Succeed: What Works and Why
    $9.99 $2.99
  • How Dogs Love Us: A Neuroscientist and His Adopted Dog Decode the Canine Brain
    $5.99 $1.99
  • But I Could Never Go Vegan!: 125 Recipes That Prove You Can Live Without Cheese, It's Not All Rabbit Food, and Your Friends Will Still Come Over for Dinner
    $18.50 $3.99
  • A Dog Year: Twelve Months, Four Dogs, and Me
    $8.99 $1.99
  • Deep Run Roots: Stories and Recipes from My Corner of the South
    $16.99 $4.99
  • Buffett: The Making of an American Capitalist
    $13.99 $1.99
  • Forks Over Knives - The Cookbook: Over 300 Recipes for Plant-Based Eating All Through the Year
    $15.95 $2.99
  • Being Dead Is No Excuse: The Official Southern Ladies Guide to Hosting the Perfect Funeral
    $9.99 $2.99
  • Make It Fast, Cook It Slow: The Big Book of Everyday Slow Cooking
    $12.99 $2.99
  • The Family Gene: A Mission to Turn My Deadly Inheritance into a Hopeful Future
    $11.99 $1.99
  • Life Lessons from Ephesians
    $5.99 $1.99
  • A Marriage in Dog Years
    $4.99 $1.99
  • Trusting God Day by Day: 365 Daily Devotions
    $11.99 $2.99
  • Smoke and Pickles: Recipes and Stories from a New Southern Kitchen
    $18.95 $2.99
  • Simplicity Parenting: Using the Extraordinary Power of Less to Raise Calmer, Happier, and More Secure Kids
    $13.99 $1.99
  • Founding Mothers
    $8.74 $1.99
  • Undeniable: Evolution and the Science of Creation (Kindle Edition)
    $9.99 $2.99
  • Around My French Table: More Than 300 Recipes from My Home to Yours
    $19.99 $2.99
  • Once Upon a Time in Russia: The Rise of the Oligarchs—A True Story of Ambition, Wealth, Betrayal, and Murder
    $11.99 $2.99
  • Manage Your Day-To-Day: Build Your Routine, Find Your Focus, and Sharpen Your Creative Mind
    $5.99 $1.99
  • Ida: A Sword Among Lions
    $8.24 $2.99
  • A Natural History of the Senses (Vintage)
    $13.99 $1.99
  • Unsinkable: A Memoir
    $9.24 $1.99
  • The Big House: A Century in the Life of an American Summer Home
    $11.99 $2.99
  • The Other Wes Moore: One Name, Two Fates
    $11.99 $1.99
  • The Coaching Habit: Say Less, Ask More & Change the Way You Lead Forever
    $7.95 $2.49
  • Impeached: The Trial of President Andrew Johnson and the Fight for Lincoln's Legacy
    $12.99 $3.99
  • Identical Strangers: A Memoir of Twins Separated and Reunited
    $4.99 $1.99
  • The Secret Life of Lobsters: How Fishermen and Scientists Are Unraveling the Mysteries of Our Favorite Crustacean
    $7.99 $1.99
“He is a true casualty of battle. There's not a physical scar, but look at the man's heart, and his head, and there are scars galore.” 6 likes
“It's a thin line between what we're calling acceptable and not acceptable. As a leader, you're supposed to know when not to cross it. But how do you know? Does the army teach us how to control our emotions? Does the army teach us how to deal with a friend bleeding out in front of you? No.” 6 likes
More quotes…