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The Farther Shore Hardcover – September 28, 2007


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Milkweed Editions (September 28, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1571310576
  • ISBN-13: 978-1571310576
  • Product Dimensions: 0.8 x 6 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,199,382 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

A unit of young American soldiers lost in an unnamed city in an unnamed desert nation struggle to maintain a tenuous grip on their lives in this haunting debut novel by Eck, a veteran of U.S. Army efforts in Somalia. Narrator Joshua Stantz recounts his wanderings with such quiet objectivity that the horrors he witnesses evoke winces and poetic details stand out in contrast: there are wounds that hiss and bubble, but there is also a girl's lone eyelash falling from the creases of a letter. Early in the book, Joshua is part of a group of six soldiers who, separated from their unit and under murky circumstances, kill two boys, but almost everything else about their circumstances remains unclear: where exactly are they and why? and who is the enemy? With these questions in the air, the formal rules of engagement become all but useless as the troops navigate a landscape rife with dangers—warring clans, armed thugs, the elements. Eck goes beyond the on-the-ground chaos of battle to capture the physical and psychological disorientation of modern war. (Oct.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

*Starred Review* Three American soldiers are stranded in a war-blasted desert city in Africa. The heat, the sand, the impenetrable darkness are all exacting a toll. The enemy is everyone and anyone, even your comrades. The mission is vague, preposterous. The people are starving, desperate, and violent, tyrannized by warlords and clan loyalty. Packs of emaciated dogs roam through smoking ruins. All is obscured by haze, dust, and fear. Josh, a good boy from Wichita, Kansas, struggles to stay rational, vigilant, honorable. Santiago, their lieutenant, tells him, "Stop thinking so much." Their situation goes from bad to worse to all-out nightmare as they barely escape the city and set out for the sea. Every word in Eck's first novel is as solid as a stone. Every moment of crisis feels authentic in its terror and tragedy; indeed, Eck served as a soldier in Somalia at age 18. Heir to Hemingway, and damn near as powerful as Cormac McCarthy in The Road (2006), Eck has created a contemporary version of The Red Badge of Courage in this tale of one young man's trial by fire in the pandemonium of war in an age of high-tech weaponry and low-grade morality. Seaman, Donna

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Customer Reviews

This book did exactly what I hoped it would.
Chris Sellers
The men Eck depicts are neither good or bad: they do terrible things and terrible things are done to them because that is what happens in war.
another reader
Simple prose and story, profound results--the true sign of virtuosity.
Amazon Customer

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

11 of 13 people found the following review helpful By another reader on October 8, 2007
Format: Hardcover
Eck's book could stand as a parable for America's war in Iraq or any of our imperial wars that are fought faraway by a few men whose agonies civilians can never understand. A small group of soldiers cut off from their unit find that everything turns sour fast. Without malice and following standard operating procedures, they kill children who set off alarms by walking into their night position. More horrors follow. The men Eck depicts are neither good or bad: they do terrible things and terrible things are done to them because that is what happens in war.

In the area of operations Eck depicts, even nature is postindustrial, polluted, and hostile: "the ocean is out of tune." In this dismal setting that mirrors the soldiers' lives, Eck excels at depicting the fog of war where soldiers are lost, sick, and confused. Their actions are often dictated by chance in the midst of terrible situations. some die, others are mutilated, no one escapes intact.

The novel shows men at war without the Hollywood soundtrack or the happy ending of the movie version of Black Hawk Down, where the survivors walk into safety looking dewy fresh as if from a good night's sleep and having missed no good meals at the studio's buffet.

Even more than the novel's obvious applicability to America's hopeless mission in Iraq, this book stands on its own as a story of the misery of war. And these words apply to the experiences of Americans in many wars: ""We made a mess of this whole thing. And I'm sick with it."
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Kevin Loss on January 4, 2008
Format: Hardcover
I sent my wife to buy the last Umberto Eco novel and she bought me this book by mistake. I read it cover to cover anyhow and it stuck in my head the next day because it was fantastic. The Farther Shore was a firecracker book, the kind that draws you in by getting your attention and never lets go. A perfect book. I would say more, but I don't want to hint away all of the good parts.
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on November 11, 2007
Format: Hardcover
This one's a gem. The visceral reality of the best combat writing seamlessly merges with the febrile surrealism of Camus, not in the sense of hallucinations, but in reality seeming surreal. The effect is a heightened sense of reality, believe it or not. Simple prose and story, profound results--the true sign of virtuosity.
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Format: Paperback
I picked this book up because I'm mostly unfamiliar with the details/nuances of war. I've seen many War Movies, but felt that a novel may better capture the many day-to-day actions, emotions, etc. that really take place in War. In addition, I have caught myself avoiding the topic as it has taken on a Political Meaning more than a Reality. What I mean to say is that it is difficult to really understand 'war' outside of making a political statement.

This book did exactly what I hoped it would. It brought the activities of War and the horrors involved to life for me. Considering I've only shot a gun in a range and could never see myself actually participating in a war, this book was really great for me.

I felt sheltered while reading this; in addition I had to remind myself that the characters are so young and are forced to deal with circumstances that I may never have to deal with. I'm thankful that this book was written and was able to provide just an emotional insight to this difficult topic.
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By Steven Hedgecorth on November 25, 2009
Format: Paperback
I read this book quicker than most, and not because of it's length; I just couldn't put it down. I was relieved to get out of the Black Hawk Down scene and read something more tamed down in a sense, and all around simple and good, like the great authors of our time.

Eck has a great way of keeping the reader interested, one in particular, ending each chapter powerfully--a sentence or paragraph that really flicks the brain and wakes it up.

Certain parts stood out that will stay with me forever, like when the protagonist (a young soldier) has to tie up a little girl to keep her from following him, and it states that when he looked back after running away from her and her trying to hop after him, the look in her eyes was painful.
Then further along when the protagonist thinks back to that, he wonders: How can anyone ever love me after something like that?
Once I read that I knew Eck was in the path to greatness.

Can't wait for his next novel.
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Format: Paperback
No bells or whistles with this book. Just a straight forward story about a team of soldiers sent into a hostile city in Iraq to gather intel. Unfortunately an "accident" forces the team to go on the run in a desperate attempt to escape back to the main US Force they believe to reside outside the city. Along the way the encounter indifferent people who care less whether the soldiers live or die...as long as they, the citizens, are left alone. Throughout their venture they are also chased by local warlords attemtpting to revenge the children killed in the "accident".

This was a page-turner dealing with the insanity that undoubtedly happened during the Iraqi war. It's a quick paced book that has you often asking "why?" but doesn't allow the luxury of an answer. Just like the soldiers in the story, you have to keep moving and worry about sorting things out later.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Ronald Scheer on December 24, 2007
Format: Hardcover
In this taut, harrowing novella, four young American soldiers are stranded in a war-torn city in Somalia. The story, told by one of the four, follows them as they make their escape, while death stalks them every step of the way. The rules of engagement, meant to guide their decisions, often fall far too short, and they are forced to make choices on the fly, redefining and reformulating right and wrong as they go. Survival depends finally on chance and mischance, and their journey takes them far from home along a farther shore from which few may ever fully return. Told in a raw, spare style, its vision of men at war is both grim and tender.
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