My War is a book that will challenge many of the most common assumptions about the Iraq War and the people fighting in it. Colby Buzzell, the book's author and a U.S. Army machine-gunner who did a year-long tour in Iraq, is not the stereotypical small-town soldier from a Red State. He grew up in San Francisco eating pot brownies at the Haight-Ashbury Street Fair, skateboarding, and listening to punk and heavy metal. He supported Ralph Nader for president, reads George Orwell, and his dad worked in Silicon Valley. But he was sick of his "life in oblivion," bouncing around from one dead-end job to another. As Buzzell writes in his typically gritty prose, "I didnt want to get all old and have my bratty grandkids ask me, 'Grandpa, where were you during the Iraq war?' and me going, 'Oh, I was busy doing temp work and data entry for 12 bucks an hour.'"
In search of adventure, Buzzell joined the army and got sent to Iraq. First stationed in the ultra-dangerous Sunni Triangle, he quickly mastered how to use the M240 Bravo machine gun: "Just get behind that muthafucka and just fire it." His fellow soldiers, mostly hip-hop fans or headbanging metal-heads like him, killed time watching porn on mini-portable DVD players or listening to Metallica on their iPods while on patrol. Long boring spells were interrupted by wild fits of confusing action. On one of Buzzell's first missions, two platoons fired thousands of rounds at near point-blank range at an unarmed Iraqi civilian. Amazingly, he survived. Out of boredom, Buzzell started a blog, one of the first by an ordinary "Joe" grunt in Iraq. It became a media sensation and got Buzzell in trouble with the REMFs ("Rear Echelon Mutha Fuckers") because of his less-than-glamorous portrayal of the war and his superiors, whom he accuses of constantly lying to the public and the soldiers under their command. My War may be disappointing to readers looking for deeper introspections on the moral questions behind the war, but it is a pretty convincing case against the claim that everything in Iraq is going fine. --Alex Roslin
From Publishers Weekly
With this relentlessly cynical volume, Buzzell converts his widely read 2004 blog into an episodic but captivating memoir about the year he spent serving as an army "trigger puller" in Iraq. Posted to Mosul in late 2003, Buzzell's platoon was ordered "to locate, capture and kill all non compliant forces." Accordingly, his entries describe experiences pursuing elusive guerrillas (aka "men in black"); enduring sniping, rocket and mortar attacks; and witnessing the occasional car bomb. Face-to-face fighting almost never occurs. No matter: though the combat scenes are exciting, this book is actually more engrossing as a portrait of the day-to-day life of a young American soldier who has "read, and re-read, countless times, every single one of [Bukowski's] books." Like Bukowski, Buzzell appears to be a sentimental misanthrope; he pours scorn on everyone from cooks to generals to President Bush. He also despises the media, the antiwar movement and everyone who thinks they understand what's happening in Iraq. That his superiors kept their hands off his blog for several months, however, shows they understood that;despite its foul language, griping, insults directed at higher officers and occasional exposure of dirty linen;Buzzell's work never really wavers in its portrayal of American forces as the good guys in a dirty war. (Oct.)
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