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Tattoo Zoo: A Novel Of The Afghan War Paperback – March 10, 2014

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Editorial Reviews


SEE SECOND EDITION OF BOOK. IT IS REVISED (5% more novel) and more importantly, IT IS HALF THE PRICE. LISTED AT $14.00 -- AMAZON PRICE IS $13.03. (Not available in digital, as I believe books should be read turning pages.)

A full-blooded inspection right into the heart of the Afghan war through the eyes and hearts of the linedogs fighting it.   --Charleston Tidewater Ledger 


. . . oozes authenticity. The author makes it clear in his depiction of the infantry GI that he has been to war with them, has lived with them, has seen them wounded and killed beside him. -- Screaming Eagle Weekly 

A war story of this generation. Nothing short of revolutionary. . . . profound in its frightening message of the injustices we are inflicting upon our soldiers caught in battlefield political correctness. --Iowa Writer's Wordworks Quarterly 

. . . It will lay claim as the one book to be read about the American war in Afghanistan.  --Kevin Nevisoll, Denver Times-Intelligencer 

. . . hard and cold and exact. . . . I never thought I'd be choked up by them and can't begin to tell you how many times out of nowhere I was. And moved to tears.   --All-American Para-Glider, (Fort Bragg)

. . . MEGA-COOL . . . FEROCIOUS . . . SURPRISINGLY MOVING . . . THREE DAYS THAT WILL DEFINE THE AFGHAN WAR . . . --Summer Elliott, The Atlantic Standard

In his debut novel Avallone does what Karl Marlantes did in Matterhorn, John Del Vecchio did in The 13th Valley and James Jones did in The Thin Red Line. . . Take note, Tattoo Zoo will be a classic. --San Diego Palm Chronicle

A beautifully crafted novel, authentic and powerful, filled with heroism, terror, politics, profound waste, and, ultimately, love in the triumphant of good. . . Gripping. . . To become a war classic. Move over, Normal Mailer. Make way, James Jones.     --London Thames Review

They should read this in the Obama White House, on Capitol Hill, in the Pentagon and at the Bush and Cheney ranches. But they will not want to believe it. They will refuse to believe it.  --UK Sun-Guardian


About the Author

Paul Avallone spent three-plus years in the Afghan War, first as a Green Beret, then in later years as a civilian journalist embedded with the U.S. Army. A variety of his published magazine articles (and his famous Postcards From Afghanistan) can be found on his website:

Feel free to contact the Avallone through email at:

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 560 pages
  • Publisher: iUniverse (March 10, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1491725001
  • ISBN-13: 978-1491725009
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 1.4 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,101,703 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Years in dual careers as a Writer and a US Army Green Beret. Served in the Afghan War in the first years as a Green Beret which I documented in published magazine articles. Then spent further years in the Afghan War as an embedded photojournalist. All magazine articles found on pdf at my website:
I live in Tennessee, in the area of Ft. Campbell, the home to the 101st Abn Div as well as the 5th Special Forces Group and the 160th Spec Ops Aviation.

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on June 5, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
If you want a clearly updated version of our US Soldiers in action this is a must read. I was a career Army officer who began as an infantryman, first in peace time as a mortar platoon, communications platoon leader, and company commander who then later served twelve months in the furthest reaches of IV Corps in southern Vietnam as a tactical advisor to the Vietnamese 21st ARVN Division who were in direct contact with Vietcong and NVA Regulars. Retired as an 06 since 1994, now living near Fort Campbell, KY, I am familiar with the numerous deployments endured by units not unlike those depicted in the novel, but have not had the honor to see them in action. The writer, however is a bona fide Special Operator NCO, and life long screen writer who has spent years embedded with today's soldiers. He knows their tactics, abilities, and understands their hearts and minds. He portrays their skills and ethos as brothers in arms in a readable manner. The story builds slowly, but becomes hard to put down as the plot develops. I was move to tears in several places because Mr Avallone makes you feel as if you are there with these soldiers feeling their grief and attitude toward life. The tension builds throughout and keeps the reader rapt until the end. It should be compared to novels such as "Killer Angels", "The River and the Gauntlet", or "Band of Brothers". This is a great read that tells it "like it is".
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By R. C. Falcone on July 13, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition
While I might not have the experience to comment on Paul Avallone's Tattoo Zoo as a *war* book, I can say this: Tattoo Zoo is a fantastic read. I read for relationships, any and all kinds. In this case, the relationships are about a band of brothers, about the in-fighting that is accepted and bandied and slung back and forth ... but only inside. Just let an outsider stick their nose between two warring brothers and see how fast those two close ranks and join to fight as one. Battlefield brothers. Combat kinsman. Family.

That's what got me. Those intense, noble moments in life captured with such skill that the words slid off the page to let the "movie" unspool before my eyes. Avallone captured those things, invisible to the eye, but the most precious to us all:
Love. Hope. Honor.
Loyalty. Dedication. Commitment.

He doesn't pander to the "start with an explosion" mentality. He brought us in, let us meet and begin to judge for ourselves these men and women we would be spending time with. But don't think that this is a relaxing read, a book you can put down easily. Once Avallone got rolling it was so fast and furious that I scrambled through the pages almost feeling the rumble of a big engine carrying me like a mental tank, not even noticing the boulders I climbed over or the the stuff that flew past.

I had an idea of who survived but not those last frantic hours... not the last day and night. It was much too intense to slow down, too exciting to pay any closer attention as the battle raged and my focus lasered to the point of view of the eyes I was seeing through at that moment. Eyes and ears. My eyes as blinded as the men of the Zoo with an ordinance flash through their night vision *nods*, I was blinking in a rush of action that was too much to take in but not able, not willing, to slow down.

In the end I was pierced through, wrung out, drained dry.
Yeah. It was a great book.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By charles on September 11, 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Absolute best novel about the Afghan war I've read. I've been in the Army for 12 years, and unlike most novels about war, this one holds up in terms of terminology, tactics and mindsets of the average Soldier, TOC Jockey, ex-military contractor, and senior level strategists. I'd say this book is a must read for anyone with an interest in current events in Afghanistan.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Kimberley A. Elliott on October 3, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition
The rapid fire prose hurtled me into a world I've heard much about from news media, but didn't understand in any practical way. I learned about MRAPs, RPGs, QRF, the ANA, BDA, green air, and bracketing. The world of the FOB (forward operating base) was explained and described so that I better understand what I see in the news. Avallone does an excellent job of `world building.' By the end of the novel I had an understanding of what it's like to be a soldier on a QRF or cozy inside the Hesco barriers.

(Don't know what that means? Read the book.)

Tattoo Zoo takes you into the heart and soul of an infantry platoon, with characters so authentic and compelling it was hard to stop reading. When I wasn't reading, I was thinking about them, and worrying about their safety.

An explosive event sets off a chain of reactions that put the platoon in an `Alamo' situation. Accused of war crimes, `the Zoo' is in the cross hairs of the Taliban and their own command, which considers their innocence an inconvenient truth. What happens next is: courage under fire, honor, self-sacrifice, and the maddening folly of politically motivated decision-making.

The dense population of characters--some noble, some despicable, all memorable--is thematic. This is a novel of love for the American soldier, and that sets it apart from other novels of the Afghan war currently available. Avallone didn't bore me with nihilistic clichés and misanthropy. He inspired me with a story that is suspenseful, profoundly moving, and resonant in its characterization of the average GI-- heart, not Heart of Darkness.
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