Kathleen's Reviews > The Good Soldiers

The Good Soldiers by David Finkel
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Oct 04, 2009

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bookshelves: non-fiction, political, read-in-2009
Read in October, 2009

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 Center where the mothers of injured soldiers gather when they can't sleep at four in the morning after a day spent listening to an injured son's screams at his own amputation will know this needs to stop. And it does. It really, really does. The trouble is, declaring victory and bringing everybody home right this second which is what Finkel clearly advocates, is not a strategically intelligent choice. Iraq sucks, but we broke it so maybe we do have an obligation to fix it.

I don't know. It's a hard story, no happy ending, and the only slightly good one involves soldiers coming home alive without Muqtada al-Sadr having enough power to become the next Muammar al-Gaddafi.
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Elizabeth Sulzby I did not read Finkel as "let's bring them home right now." I thought he could understand that point of view but did not think that the troops could be withdrawn without careful transitioning. Maybe I am wrong, but I thought he implied the tensions between knowing that "war is hell," the various motivations of President, Surge Commander(s), the brigade commanders and soldiers, and how they changed over time, and what it takes to allow and accomplish a group of soldiers returning from war assignments.

You hit a point I meant to write about but forgot (and wanted to know more about): Muqtada al-Sadr's cease-fire and suspension and the resurgence of even greater violence against the soldiers of this brigade). Thanks for your review--I found this one of the hardest books to read and yet one I couldn't put down.


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