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Operation Homecoming: Iraq, Afghanistan, and the Home Front, in the Words of U.S. Troops and Their Families
 
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Operation Homecoming: Iraq, Afghanistan, and the Home Front, in the Words of U.S. Troops and Their Families [Hardcover]

Andrew Carroll
4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (28 customer reviews)


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Book Description

September 12, 2006
“Here is what you will not find in the news–the personal cost of war written as clear and beautiful as literature worthy of the name is. These stories are the real thing, passionate, imaginative, searing.”
–Richard Bausch, author of Wives & Lovers

The first book of its kind, Operation Homecoming is the result of a major initiative launched by the National Endowment for the Arts to bring distinguished writers to military bases and inspire U.S. Marines, soldiers, sailors, and airmen and their families to record their wartime experiences. Encouraged by such authors as Tom Clancy, Mark Bowden, Bobbie Ann Mason, Tobias Wolff, Jeff Shaara, and Marilyn Nelson, American military personnel and their loved ones wrote candidly about what they saw, heard, and felt while in Afghanistan and Iraq, as well as on the home front. Taken together, these almost one hundred never-before-published eyewitness accounts, private journals, short stories, letters, and other personal writings become a dramatic narrative that shows the human side of warfare.

• the fear and exhilaration of heading into battle;
• the interactions between U.S. forces and Afghans and Iraqis, both as enemies and friends;
• the boredom, gripes, and humorous incidents of day-to-day life on the front lines;
• the anxiety and heartache of worried spouses, parents, and other loved ones on the home front;
• the sheer brutality of warfare and the physical and emotional toll it takes on those who fight;
• the tearful homecomings for those who returned to the States alive– and the somber ceremonies for those who made the ultimate sacrifice for their nation.

From riveting combat accounts to profound reflections on warfare and the pride these troops feel for one another, Operation Homecoming offers an unflinching and intensely revealing look into the lives of extraordinary men and women. What they have written is without question some of the greatest wartime literature ever published.

“Andrew Carroll has given America a priceless treasure.”
–Tom Brokaw, on War Letters

Proceeds from this book will be used to provide arts and cultural programming to U.S. military communities. For more information, please go to www.OperationHomecoming.gov.

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. This beautifully edited compilation of writings from modern warriors and their loved ones contains a wonderful range of voices and experience. Culled from an NEA call for the personal stories of service members and their families-a call that resulted in some ten thousand pages of material-the writing on display might make one think war transformed these untrained writers into fearless poets, ready and able to tackle the big topics: heartbreak, courage, sheer pluck and God-awful horror. Divided into six sections, including "Heading into Combat," the "Daily Grind" and "Life on the Home Front," Carroll has pulled together dozens of unique voices to achieve the "integrity and authenticity ... of a full spectrum of viewpoints and experiences." The results, a series of short, charged narratives that generally range from one to ten pages, are heartening and heartbreaking. In "Reclamation," a seasoned marine is ordered to clean a cemetery, "little more than a sunken acre of rotting garbage and donkey carcasses... a nasty task that seemed to have no direct benefit to the Iraqi people," which would become for him a pivotal experience in building hope and honoring sacrifice. In "Shallow Hands," a 27-year-old Marine attempts to explain the bitter divide between those who've fought and those who have not, while confessing, "I've been drinking steadily since coming back from the war." In the remarkable "Dover," readers go into the enormous military mortuary in Deleware that receives home-bound bodies, learning how one of the war's "politically sanitized phrases" like "the fallen hero" can reclaim its meaning. This collection provides a truly multi-faceted and agenda-free look at the ongoing conflict from the Americans who lived it, and deserves a large audience.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

*Starred Review* This history-making project records feelings about the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan even as conflicts continue in those nations. Funded by the National Endowment for the Arts, the project brought together some of the nation's most distinguished writers, including Tobias Wolff and Marilyn Nelson, and the men and women (and their spouses) fighting in the Middle East. The result is an incredibly wide range of opinions and emotions about U.S. policy in the Middle East, the war on terrorism, and the duties and responsibilities of citizens and the military. In 100 pieces of poetry, essays, letters, e-mails, plays, and journal entries, soldiers recall the awful thrill in the threat of killing or being killed, the deaths of buddies, and the cultural and psychological adjustments to a strange land. The book is divided into sections, including the war in the beginning, when 9/11 fueled certainty among the military; the campaigns to win the hearts and minds of Afghanis and Iraqis; the daily terror and boredom of war; efforts to sustain family life on the home front; and the joy and anxiety of homecoming. Intimate perspectives from the people on the frontlines. Vanessa Bush
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Random House; 1st edition (September 12, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1400065623
  • ISBN-13: 978-1400065622
  • Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 1.3 x 9.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (28 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,426,817 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

4.9 out of 5 stars
(28)
4.9 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
33 of 34 people found the following review helpful
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
With the demise of the draft, and the decline in the size of the military, we now have about 1.5 million people in uniform and a population of 300 million. Military service has become something that someone else does. This is a book about those people - and how their service affects their wives, husbands, mothers and fathers.

This is not a political book. In it you can find something that supports your view of the war in Iraq - no matter what it is. And you can find something that rebukes that view.

It also is not a war book. Although some of the contributor's stories deal with combat, most deal with the ever-present danger of serving in Iraq and Afghanistan. Although 99% of the people might be nonhostile, they look exactly like that other 1% who would be absolutely delighted to kill you.

The stories also deal with the troops experience in helping to rebuild the destruction from a starting place of overwhelming poverty. These stories tell of the culture shock - on both the Iraqi side and the American side.

There also is plenty on the ironies of having both men and women in the military. A Marine and helicopter pilot wrote about how difficult it was to say goodbye to his wife - when she deployed to Iraq and he stayed home.

To help the military contributors, teams of professional writers went to military bases and conducted classes on writing. They weren't trying to slant the contributors' content, but to show them how to write and to encourage them to contribute their journals, letters and e-mails. The result was a flood of over 12,000 pages of source material.

The book really is a tribute to Andy being able to persuade the military hierarchy to allow him to have access to the troops.
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22 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A must-have collection of war writings September 14, 2006
Format:Hardcover
Last year I had the privilege of serving on a distinguished editorial panel to select the entries in this unprecedented anthology. (I have no financial ties to this book.) Sifting through the submissions then deciding on the final slate was no easy task. Andy Carroll, Mr. "War Letters," did a fabulous job of sewing together the book, a much more difficult assignment.

The entries were moving and instantly gave me complete snapshots of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq through 2004, sans the Iraqi perspective. Short stories, poems, letters, emails encapsulate the mindset of the soldiers and the families they left behind.

No journalist can capture the feelings of the men and women serving in harm's way the way they can themselves. Politics aside, these writings deserve to be widely read based on their own literary merits. This is a must-have collection for Americans to better understand the wars of our time.
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing descriptions of raw emotion - unbelievable prose September 16, 2006
By John
Format:Hardcover
This book knocked my socks off. I tried to read it on a plane, and I could not, because it kept sneaking up on me and devastating me with the simple raw emotion so simply told that you never question its authenticity - it just made the tears start flowing. Then the next story made me laugh out loud. These are real people who have had experiences that few would believe - and it seems so intimate - so personal - yet there it is - like they were writing to me. I recommend reading it with tissues nearby. In the end, the feeling I got was of being greatly uplifted - it made me soar - maybe with pride, because these Americans - not of any party affiliation - Just American, were telling great stories. This is a remarkable collection of stories that I highly recommend. Oh, and if I were you, and this becomes a bestseller, buy kleenex stock. - Buck
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Bringing us closer to the experience of the troops September 25, 2006
Format:Hardcover
I want to thank Amazon for the opportunity to share my thoughts after finishing this book at 4 am this morning. I have been reading 5-10 entries in this book each night for the last week. I purchased it in an effort to draw closer to and to better understand the experience of my youngest brother, SGT Jason Boesen, Army combat medic currently deployed to Iraq until July 2007, and my brother-in-law, Major Chris Hanna, recently returned from his deployment to Iraq in May 2006. During the course of reading this book, I laughed, I cried, I clenched my fingers around the pages at intervals, afraid to turn the pages for fear of what I might read next. I was enveloped in waves of pride, fear, dismay, grief, love, longing, frustration, and at times, guilt.

The soldiers who shared their insights, as well as those family members who included entries from their perspectives on the homefront gave the America public a gift in sharing their thoughts and emotions, unfiltered by media exposure. They contributed germane information to the communal American experience as we have watched this war take on a life of its own. It is now embedded in our American psyche, and through their stories, I have been better able to understand the experience of the Iraqi national citizens through the eyes of the soldiers serving them, and our country.

It is evident that the included essays were carefully selected and ultimately chosen for their core, all of which were well crafted and forthright. I am honored to have been one of the first people to have read this anthology, and I am not the same having taken in the "real time" experiences of the American military as included in this book.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars Three Stars
Very limited in stories.
Published 5 months ago by bayou ben
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Exactly what I wanted and expected, and the product got to my house quickly.
Published 6 months ago by Hambz
5.0 out of 5 stars Understand
This book will help you understand what our troops are facing and their feelings after they return home.Maybe your warrior has these same problems and you just don't know it. Read more
Published 14 months ago by Dorothy
5.0 out of 5 stars Heartfelt and helpful for all Soldiers
This book was written with a mission which is to help Soldiers regardless of branch to heal and be able to continue their individual and family lives. Read more
Published 15 months ago by Curtis
5.0 out of 5 stars So Moving
If you want to know what the effects of war are on the people who fight them and the families who love those warriors, this is the book. Read more
Published 16 months ago by Arizona Reader
5.0 out of 5 stars It's not another "letters home" book. Actually, not even close.
I picked up this book thinking it was another faceless, nameless "letters home to mom" book. Was I wrong. Read more
Published on September 29, 2010 by S. Shajnfeld
5.0 out of 5 stars Operation Homecoming
Commissioned by the National Endowment for the Arts, this book is the personal writings of our troops who are serving or have served in Iraq or Afghanistan. Read more
Published on December 26, 2009 by Duane Peterson
5.0 out of 5 stars Striking and Real
I am no sucker for touchy-feely, pro-America, "freedom ain't free" garbage. This book has none. It is visceral, personal, and unswervingly real. Read more
Published on October 22, 2009 by James R. Jenkins
5.0 out of 5 stars Operation Homecoming
This is an awesome book. I laughed and cried. It's heartbreaking and uplifting. I highly reccommend this for all US citizens - whether you are associated with the military or... Read more
Published on December 28, 2007 by Katherine M. Newcomer
5.0 out of 5 stars *Tissue alert*
This book was very moving. I laughed and I cried. There were sad stories and poignant stories and many positive stories. Read more
Published on July 25, 2007 by S. Reed
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