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My War: Killing Time in Iraq Paperback – Bargain Price, September 5, 2006

4.5 out of 5 stars 115 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

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 didn’t 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 --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Product Details

  • Paperback: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Berkley Trade; Reprint edition (September 5, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0425211363
  • ASIN: B000QRIHZ2
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 1 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (115 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,352,607 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By James E. Hill, Jr. on October 3, 2005
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Colby Buzzell has candidly written one of the most interesting pieces of work in print today about the real life war in Iraq. This is not some "view from the top" but a look at the war from someone who fought it as a young soldier with mixed feelings about the military establishment and with solid feelings for America and our purpose there. His writing is refreshing, his humor is laugh out loud and his insight is immediately identifiable from those of us who have served our country in the military. I served 4 years on active duty with the Marine Corps from 1970-74 and left the Marines as a newly promoted Captain. Mr. Buzzell was the kind of thinker I'd loved to have had in my platoon. When presented with the mission, he gave it 100% every time, never losing his humanity and morals. For those who want to know the truth (and can handle the truth), this book is highly recommended and will come to be recognized as one of the best books to come out about this war from an infantry soldier's viewpoint. He has my respect.
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Format: Hardcover
I recently read Anthony Swofford's review of My War, by Colby Buzzell. Swofford, a former Marine sniper and Gulf War veteran, is the author of Jarhead, the successful memoir of his Gulf War experience, which has recently shown up on the Hollywood big screen as a top box office seller.

All in all, I think Jarhead was a fairly good read. Criticisms abound regarding the manner in which Swofford portrays the Marines-which for the most part seem to stem from people who cling to the sentiment and disillusion that all things military must be John Wayne like. There is though, an annoying overtone of whining in his account, and an even more annoying hint of supplication to the cultured academic elite (which seems to be his intended audience), as if with a wink and a nod he readily validates that echelon's misguided and misinformed perceptions and stereotypes of the military, and in particular, all-male combat culture they so disdain.

The most redeeming quality of his memoir, which was illuminated even better in the movie, is Swofford's honest portrayal of having never squeezed the trigger. In the first Gulf War, there was absolutely no substantial role for light infantry, let alone snipers. While Jarhead may be the defining account of a sniper's role in the Gulf War, it is not the defining account of the war-which will be better served by someone who directly participated in the armored blitzkrieg of a slaughter that it was (i.e., someone from the 1 out of every 14 Gulf War soldiers who actually did squeeze the trigger).

I'm not here though to focus on Jarhead, I'll leave that to the sophomore at Brown or Amherst or Dartmouth...as a former dirt soldier of the first Gulf War, I'm here to zero in on My War.
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By Mew on September 30, 2005
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Wow! What a GREAT read! I laughed out loud and I cried. For me, this book made me feel like I am hearing the TRUTH about Iraq...not some twisted biased media report. Mr. Buzzell is a very unique, interesting, and colorful character. He is compassionate, hysterical, sobering, and blatantly honest. I read the book in a day and will read it again. I found his work to be educational as well at thought provoking...and inspiring. He brought to light what our men and women serving our country endure on a daily basis. An Interview with an Iraqi and in Service of the Queen were profoundly moving. If you like to read a good story and want to hear some truth about Iraq from a Soldier's perspective I highly recommend it. Thank you Mr. Buzzell for serving our country and for sharing your story with us. God Bless.
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Format: Hardcover
I'm a baby boomer from Colby's Dad's generation. a long-haired, small L libertarian in the Ted Nugent mold. I was a daily reader of his war blog. When he closed it down, I sent him an e-mail thanking him for his service. A few week's ago, Colby replied thanking me for my e-mail a year after the fact. That's it. Nothing about his book. I decided to try his old blogsite on a whim and that's how I found out about "My War".

I read this book at my office. I didn't even put it down when my boss stuck his head in the door unless he needed something specific from me, immediately. As others here have said, Buzzell's writing style is unique. It's clear and concise, blunt at times. It's not a lot of fluffy wordsmithing. You really can't classify Buzzell or his writing. You have to experience it for yourself. I can't say I "enjoyed" this book because It's not fiction. I did learn from it. I feel better about the generation following mine if there are a lot of Colby Buzzell's in it.
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Format: Hardcover
A common fallacy prevalent in America today is that the best way to support the troops is to slap a yellow ribbon magnet on our cars and attend political fundraisers. I'm not one who subscribes to those notions. In order to best support our currently deployed troops, one has to understand what's really happening to them, and how they perceive not only the events unfolding around them but also their own actions. This is why I started reading CB's blog. I have yet to encounter another soldier who is willing, able, and/or allowed to convey those messages as vividly as CB. The blog on which this book is based has recently become the gold standard for other soldiers currently keeping milblogs.

While CB's experiences are personal and consequently unique in many aspects, this book does teach the reader quite a bit about universal soldier life in Iraq today. For example, it illustrates what wearing a full kit in desert heat really feels like, soldiers' opinions of war reports in the press, the ways in which the latrine walls have become a forum for political commentary, the surprising sites found in a rare Iraqi Christian neighborhood, troops' reaction to voting and writing home regularly, which camp has a reputation for its STD rate, the gradual desensitization to mortar attacks, the important role books and music play not only during downtime but also in battle, and most importantly, what's really going through soldiers' heads. Also of special interest is the reaction CB's chain of command had to his blog once it was discovered. The higher ups' personal vs. official public views of the blog did not always mesh.

I read My War solely for educational purposes, to help me get a grip on what soldiers are thinking and feeling but may not share with me.
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