Ensiform's Reviews > This Man's Army

This Man's Army by Andrew Exum
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's review
Apr 22, 2012

really liked it
bookshelves: non-fiction, war

The author went through ROTC at Penn State, then through Ranger School. After 9/11, he was deployed with the 10th Mountain Division into Afghanistan, where his men patrolled the Shah-i-Kot Valley and ferreted out al-Quaeda dug in there (a mission dubbed Operation Anaconda). This memoir is perhaps a little light on the military side (9/11 does not occur until page 70, Exum’s platoon leaves Kuwait and lands in Bagram on page 120, he goes home on page 200), but the strength of this book is not in its descriptions of combat.

Instead, it’s a book that perhaps more than most “boy goes to war” stories reveals what it’s like to be transformed by war. Exum, a deep, educated, and introspective writer, muses thoughtfully on the dedication to serve; his need to forget God while on patrol and his disdain for those who try to graft war and Christianity; what it means to kill in combat; and the bonds between soldiers formed by combat. It’s an excellent testament to how, even when war doesn’t destroy or maim a man, it leaves indelible marks on him. “After the shooting stops, how does the soldier settle back into society and modern civilization?” he asks at the end of the book, and then says, “I’m still looking for the answer.”

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