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Blood Makes the Grass Grow Green: A Year in the Desert with Team America Paperback – April 24, 2007


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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. When someone is shooting at you, and you are shooting back at someone," Rico warns the reader up-front, "objective perception goes out the door." With that caveat, Rico—a self-professed "tall, skinny dork" who joined the army as one of several reactionary choices in his life (another was changing his name to Johnny Rico at age 21)—takes a shot at recounting his experiences as a stop-loss veteran of the war in Afghanistan. The result is a biting tale of frustrated ambitions and the curse of self-awareness that appropriately cites The Catcher in the Rye and Catch-22 in the book's epigraph; readers will need to remind themselves that this is memoir and not absurdist satire. Whether detailing the horrors of a roadside bomb, or the masturbation schedules of his comrades-in-arms, he shifts between the indignant adolescence that still rages inside of him and the austere sapience of his fiercely learned adulthood. His precise, evocative prose balances pathos and humor with an almost destructive compulsion for honesty and so much frustrated wit that, even at his most naked and sensitive, he holds nothing sacred. A timeless story of confounded youth and its eternal struggle for meaning, this book may well signal the birth of a titanic new voice. (Apr. 24)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Review

"'Breathtakingly, brutally and hilariously honest. This is the finest book about youth and war I've ever read.' - Clinton McKinzie, bestselling author of Crossing the Line"
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Presidio Press; Reprint edition (April 24, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0891418970
  • ISBN-13: 978-0891418979
  • Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 0.8 x 9.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (45 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #946,786 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Ex-pat living in England.
Visit me on Myspace: http://www.myspace.com/121865447

Customer Reviews

Unfortunately, I found it annoying.
Mark Lacy
This book, with it's humor, and it's grief, and it's frustration, gives all that back.
T. Ward
If anything it help me remember a lot of the good and bad things.
Leroy

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

26 of 26 people found the following review helpful By W. P. Elliott on August 6, 2007
Format: Paperback
I was trapped in a DC airport this week for 12 hours. While I was wondering aimlessly through airport shops, I saw this book. The Author's name gave me a quick chuckle so I picked it up.

First, I am a college educated, U.S. Marine, who enlisted at 26 much like Rico with a desire to do something great for my country after 911. Whether it is Marines or Army, the experience is the same.

But, with 4 months to go on my contract before I return to my old life I can attest to the accuracy and humor in this book. I laughed out loud at the description of his time overseas. Anyone who says this dishonors our men in uniform has never served or is completely delusional. This is dead on...

If he's lying then it is the most truthful lie I have ever read.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By C. C. Beckham on April 27, 2007
Format: Paperback
"God must have hated 2nd Platoon. And we would all be wise to keep our distance from the 2nd Platoon soldiers, who might taint us with their bad luck." With nothing kept sacred, Johnny explores his own thoughts on God, spirituality, and superstitions as his "cursed" comrades are being blown up, contemplating whether or not he believed in this non-sense, admitting "I kept my Virgin Mary bubble-gum trading cards."

Johnny tells of America's insatiable appetite of making each dead soldier into a war hero, no matter what the truth. This is the type of dishonest propaganda put out by the Army that Johnny detests.

His defiance through his interpretation of characters is refreshingly honest and quite accurate. From subtle nuances to thought-provoking discussions of stepping on land mines to ensure unborn children their right to a good education at the state's expense, each character brings to life the reality of being deployed to Afghanistan in the Army as an infantry soldier.

It's hard not to agree with Johnny's frustrations and elations echoing through pages that flow effortlessly, rich with descriptions such as that of the night sky in the desert, where "the stars are so bright you can taste them."

I challenge you to find a character in this book that you haven't met somewhere in the recesses of your own life or mind.
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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on May 12, 2007
Format: Paperback
Rico captured it all... as one of the National Guard soldiers that relieved Johnny and his collection of working class mis-fits from Ghazni, I can testify to the insane-ness written so well.

I can't wait for the movie
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By T. A. Yasko on July 12, 2007
Format: Paperback
anything I say which could be derogatory is actually, I think, a necessary part of the book and experience which the author is trying to relate.

I have- and would- recommend it. Especially to other folks in the military- especially infantry.

enough said, I think....

(except, perhaps... former bobcat and still in 25th...)
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Kyle L. Johnson on July 6, 2007
Format: Paperback
Yeah, about the pictures...although this guy basically sat around guarding a radio for a year, it doesn't diminish the valid critiques he has of how inefficient the US Army is (I'm also a veteran...anyone who has served and who is honest can relate to how recruiters are the biggest bold-faced liers...including Satan). It's a worthy read, regardless of your political background, because it is an indictment of military inefficiency.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By T. Leyvas on August 26, 2007
Format: Paperback
My boyfriend who is a Sgt in th USMC bought the book about a month ago and after reading it begged me to read it so I could have a better understanding of what his tour in Iraq had been like. I have to say I'm not a fan of military themed books, but this book was amazing. As a civilian it gave been better perspective of war, the action and the duldrums.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By T. Traster on November 1, 2007
Format: Paperback
Well Mr. Hanner....it might have helped if you had actually "read" the book, instead of just looking at the shiny pictures. Rico acknowledges time and time again that he is in fact NOT a natural born killer. He goes into detail to explain that he did not take his military training as seriously as he should have, was NOT adequately trained to do his "military" job and in fact doesn't know what the hell he is doing half the time.

As far as the "tough guy" on the cover....it's IRONY...ever heard of IRONY? Just in case you don't know what that means, here's the definition:

a technique of indicating, as through character or plot development, an intention or attitude opposite to that which is actually or ostensibly stated.

Read the book, then write a review about it. It's a great raw read. Very well written.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By David S on November 15, 2010
Format: Paperback
Johnny Rico (his chosen name, not his given name, nor an alias) writes this first-person narrative with a type of candor and insight that those who've served can identify. While I disagree with his politics and other ideology, I do recognize and agree with his criticisms of the bureacracy that runs the military. Having Taliban released because the paperwork on their capture was filled out incorrectly, being denied permission to return fire, and eventually denied ammunition, because it looks bad when a province declared secure suddenly has flare-ups of Anti-Coalition Forces are all things I believe can and do happen in the military. A supply unit that cannot provide a forward base with things like pens, radio batteries, and spare parts for Humvees... Having an O-5 chew out a unit because they chose to use body armor that better suits their needs than the standard issue gear....

Rico does not glamorize nor glorify uniformed service. He genuinely admires the selflessness of some of his junior NCOs, and bristles against the mind-numbing rants of his senior NCOs. Rico recognizes that not all West Point graduates are Pattons and Eisenhowers in the making.

He was in fact instructed to tell the Army story, and rather than propagandize his experience, he tells it like it is. In the early days of GWOT, the average 11B probably did want to deploy just to waste some Hajjis. Since then cultural sensitivity training and increased efforts at educating and training our forces have lead to a more cooperative role for our servicemen and -women. I don't believe his account should be criticized just because it is not in-line with DoD public affairs policy or because it may or may not mesh with another serviceman's account. Afghanistan is a large nation, as is Iraq, and each of the hundreds of thousands of troops deployed to the Middle East has their own perspective on their experience.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews


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