Monday, October 12, 2009

The Good Soldiers by David Finkel

This may be the first book about the war I will read. I think I can handle it now.

From the NY Times
Published: October 8, 2009

“The front-line soldier I knew lived for months like an animal, and was a veteran in the cruel, fierce world of death. . . . The front-line soldier has to harden his inside as well as his outside or he would crack under the strain.”

That was the war correspondent Ernie Pyle, writing about the soldiers he lived alongside and chronicled in his World War II dispatches.

Fast-forward 64 years to 2007, the year the Pulitzer Prize-winning Washington Post reporter David Finkel brings to astonishing life in his chronicle of modern combat, “The Good Soldiers.” Like Pyle, Finkel brilliantly captures the terrors of ordinary men enduring extraordinary circumstances.

Between January 2007 and June 2008, Finkel spent eight months with a battalion of 800 United States Army soldiers from Fort Riley, Kan., known for short as the 2-16 (Second Battalion, 16th Infantry Regiment of the Fourth Infantry Brigade Combat Team, First Infantry Division).

From a cramped, lousy office — big enough for just three folding chairs and a desk — the young men were led by a gung-ho yet thoroughly likable 40-year-old lieutenant colonel named Ralph Kauzlarich. We learn that Kauzlarich, when he first met his wife-to-be, told her, “You can call me The Kauz” (to her credit, she never granted this wish). A sign on the head-quarters wall read, “Mission: to create a balanced, secure and self-sufficient environment for the Iraqi people.”

The rest of the review can be found here.

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