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on August 6, 2007
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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on April 27, 2007
"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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on May 12, 2007
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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on March 15, 2011
Not all men are great men. Not all soldiers are heroes--some are just people trying to make it through life in whatever way they can.

The BEST part about this book is that Rico neither vilifies nor glorifies the average Joe soldier in our military as a whole. Each character in the book is a representative of a "type" of soldier. Even Rico admits that he combined many of the individuals he met into singular characters in this book to prevent confusion with similar personalities. He shows us good guys and not so good guys. Each soldier we encounter is an individual who found himself in Afghanistan for any number of personal reasons, and each one is reacting to being there in a different way. There's the kid from the inner city, who's making more money than his parents ever did, the mid-western 19 year old looking for direction, the college educated do-gooder who joined for the noblest of reasons, only to have those crushed with the words "stop-loss." As I read this book, I felt like I knew each of them. Some I liked more than others, but none of them were completely a hero, nor a villain. They were real people. When some of them die, as they inevitably do in war, I felt their loss as people, not as a glorified, nameless heroes. This book puts human faces on, and gives human thoughts to, those groups of uniformed soldiers we see on television, and the lines of names listed on the rolls of the dead. I didn't agree with everything Rico said or did in the book, and I didn't disagree. At times he was noble, at times a jerk... and so was everyone else around him. They were people caught in an awful situation and they did the best they could. That's why I loved this book.

Americans love to paint our military personnel as a group of heroes, heading off to do only good for America overseas. We choose only to see the best in them because we want to acknowledge only the best in ourselves. We rob them of their humanity when we do this, and we take away everything that makes them someone's child, someone's spouse, someone's parent. This book, with it's humor, and it's grief, and it's frustration, gives all that back.
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on July 6, 2007
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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on August 26, 2007
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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on March 18, 2013
This book is hilarious. Most people leaving negative feedback are more than likely non-militants or served in an air conditioned office stateside their entire enlistment never so much as deploying from their cubicle, let alone to Iraq or Afghanistan. I served in southern Iraq at a much nicer camp than poor Rico did in Crapghanistan but his finely detailed observations are SPOT ON. Everyone tends to forget that deployments are about 95% mind numbing, isolated boredom and 5% sensory overwhelming action that's over just about as soon as it started. If Hollywood's portrayals were even slightly similar to what an actual deployment was like, everyone in the country would be dead by now lol. People tend to devolve when deprived of all their friends, family, worldly possessions, freedom, and normal way of life and this story shows just how barbaric and tribal people can become. You wouldn't understand unless you were actually put in the same position but Johnny does an AWESOME job of painting the reader a vivid picture of the human condition. I hope they make a movie out of this hilarious story.
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on November 1, 2007
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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on July 12, 2007
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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on November 15, 2010
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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