Trish's Reviews > The End of Major Combat Operations

The End of Major Combat Operations by Nick McDonell
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's review
Apr 12, 2012

it was amazing
bookshelves: africa, favorite, memoir, nonfiction, totally-unexpected, war, foreign-affairs
Read from April 12 to 26, 2012

Nick McDonell was not a name I recognized, and this dry-as-dust title hardly inspired dreams of an absorbing read. But from the first pages I recognized this as something unusual. Written with a novelist’s eye and flair, it is reportage on the lives of the (mostly) men, and women that served in Iraq at the end of U.S. operations there. It almost seemed like homage to those soldiers, the telling of their stories. Not all was good, but it felt true and real. There are no extra words. McDonell didn’t pad it with theory or background; he just tells it like it looked to him.

Leaving a theatre of war is hard. It tends to stay with one, stuck on one’s skin and in one’s mind. Soldiers that hated the place, and/or loved the camaraderie, who nevertheless find themselves curious now about how it looked at the time of the turnover, and what they were missing, will find remembrance here, and true things. They will laugh at those things that frustrated them, cringe at the things that reflect their baser moments, and be grateful that such a skilled writer took the time to tell their story with such sensitivity. And they may just do as I did—read everything McDonell has written to date to understand how he was able to write such simple-seeming sentences that carry so much clarity and meaning and weight. Kudos, McDonell.
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Reading Progress

04/12/2012 page 99
62.0% "Cannot believe how good this book is. Under a title so dry one's mouth feels parched, the brilliant observations of everyday war are succinctly shared. This man is a Hemingway. It feels like a gift--the care of his craft."

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