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The Good Soldiers [Kindle Edition]

David Finkel
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (332 customer reviews)

Print List Price: $26.00
Kindle Price: $8.89
You Save: $17.11 (66%)
Sold by: Macmillan

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Book Description

It was the last-chance moment of the war. In January 2007, President George W. Bush announced a new strategy for Iraq. He called it the surge. “Many listening tonight will ask why this effort will succeed when previous operations to secure Baghdad did not. Well, here are the differences,” he told a skeptical nation. Among those listening were the young, optimistic army infantry soldiers of the 2-16, the battalion nicknamed the Rangers. About to head to a vicious area of Baghdad, they decided the difference would be them.

Fifteen months later, the soldiers returned home forever changed. Pulitzer Prize-winning Washington Post reporter David Finkel was with them in Bagdad, and almost every grueling step of the way.

What was the true story of the surge? And was it really a success? Those are the questions he grapples with in his remarkable report from the front lines. Combining the action of Mark Bowden’s Black Hawk Down with the literary brio of Tim O’Brien’s The Things They Carried, The Good Soldiers is an unforgettable work of reportage. And in telling the story of these good soldiers, the heroes and the ruined, David Finkel has also produced an eternal tale—not just of the Iraq War, but of all wars, for all time.




Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Book Description It was the last-chance moment of the war. In January 2007, President George W. Bush announced a new strategy for Iraq. He called it "the surge." "Many listening tonight will ask why this effort will succeed when previous operations to secure Baghdad did not. Well, here are the differences," he told a skeptical nation. Among those listening were the young, optimistic army infantry soldiers of the 2-16, the battalion nicknamed the Rangers. About to head to a vicious area of Baghdad, they decided the difference would be them.

Fifteen months later, the soldiers returned home forever changed. Pulitzer Prize-winning Washington Post reporter David Finkel was with them in Bagdad almost every grueling step of the way.

What was the true story of the surge? Was it really a success? Those are the questions he grapples with in his remarkable report from the front lines. Combining the action of Mark Bowden's Black Hawk Down with the literary brio of Tim O'Brien's The Things They Carried, The Good Soldiers is an unforgettable work of reportage. And in telling the story of these good soldiers, the heroes and the ruined, David Finkel has also produced an eternal tale--not just of the Iraq War, but of all wars, for all time.

Faces of the Surge
Beneath every policy decision made in the highest echelons of Washington about how a war should be fought are soldiers who live with those decisions every day. These are some of the faces of the U.S. strategy known as "the surge," as photographed by David Finkel, author of The Good Soldiers.



Soldiers of the 2-16 Rangers wait
for permission to enter a mosque.


Two soldiers try to collect themselves after
their Humvee was hit by a roadside bomb.



Sergeant Adam Schumann, regarded as
one of the battalion's best soldiers on the
day he was sent home with severe post
-traumatic stress disorder.



From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. A success story in the headlines, the surge in Iraq was an ordeal of hard fighting and anguished trauma for the American soldiers on the ground, according to this riveting war report. Washington Post correspondent Finkel chronicles the 15-month deployment of the 2-16 Infantry Battalion in Baghdad during 2007 and 2008, when the chaos in Iraq subsided to a manageable uproar. For the 2-16, waning violence still meant wild firefights, nerve-wracking patrols through hostile neighborhoods where every trash pile could hide an IED, and dozens of comrades killed and maimed. At the fraught center of the story is Col. Ralph Kauzlarich, whose dogged can-do optimism—his motto is It's all good—pits itself against declining morale and whispers of mutiny. While vivid and moving, Finkel's grunt's-eye view is limited; the soldiers' perspective is one of constant improvisatory reaction to attacks and crises, and we get little sense of exactly how and why the new American counterinsurgency methods calmed the Iraqi maelstrom. Still, Finkel's keen firsthand reportage, its grit and impact only heightened by the literary polish of his prose, gives us one of the best accounts yet of the American experience in Iraq. Photos. (Sept.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Product Details

  • File Size: 821 KB
  • Print Length: 301 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 1553655168
  • Publisher: Sarah Crichton Books; Reprint edition (September 15, 2009)
  • Sold by: Macmillan
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00305CYH4
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #55,584 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
302 of 315 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A staggering achievement September 17, 2009
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I have embedded as a freelance photojournalist with US soldiers in Iraq three times, including a small part of the time that Finkel describes here, in 2007. At that time, and as excellently described here, the country was basically a hellstorm.

There are z-e-r-o images or anecdotes in this book that come across as anything less than powerfully true, and many of his observations mirror in some ways things I saw on a much smaller scale. So for me, the credibility was rock solid. I kept thinking to myself, "oh yeah, I remember when something like X happened."

But, the most factually accurate book won't work if it's not written well. That is NOT a problem here. He tells it straight and without a lot of florid adjectives and overwriting. It's a strong enough story to succeed on its own merits, without the author trying to make us notice him as well. I really respect how he keeps himself totally out of it. There's nothing wrong with an "I" biographical style, but it's good to see the soldier's stories told here with a minimum of editorializing. It just tells us what happened; a lot of it's pretty horrible, some of it is very funny, with plenty in between.

Dexter Filkins' "The Forever War," had been my most respected book about Iraq, but this surpasses it only because it focuses so closely on an individual unit and the men doing the job. Filkins does a lot more in his book, but I think the tight focus of "Good Soldiers" helps it stand even more apart.

I'm not even sure it could be summed up as what it's "about." It doesn't have a happy ending, there's no big defining battle, just a lot of fights that don't seem to add up to much.
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137 of 140 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "It's all good" September 20, 2009
Format:Hardcover
My son was in this battalion and is an admirer of the battalion commander, "Col K" as everyone calls him. I had heard many of the stories in this book but not in their totality. David Finkel has written an intense, compelling, and emotional account that succeeds in covering the war on so many facets simultaneously: strategic, operational, tactical, homefront, and the Iraqi perspective as well. A map would have been nice but this was not an account written to stop and reference maps, but to be read and felt. Every chapter has a chronologically correct statement from President Bush about the war. We read what is happening at home with the wives and in the hospitals where the severely wounded are recovering. We also learn about the Iraqis who work as translators for the battalion. We follow the soldiers home on leave from the war zone. It's the story of this battalion, its commander, some officers, and those wounded and killed during an extended deployment who just kept on giving and doing their duty. This book to quote Col K's motto, "it's all good."
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113 of 120 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Personal, emotional, and powerful September 15, 2009
Format:Hardcover
In "A Note on Sources and Methods" at the end of this book, the author writes, "From the beginning, I explained to [the soldiers of the 2-16] that my intent was to document their corner of the war, without agenda." The result is the most intimate and touching story about the lives and deaths of American servicemen not just in Iraq, but in any other war for that matter, that I have ever come across. Other excellent books about the war in Iraq have achieved greatness in other ways, but this account is unique by virtue of the author's ability to open windows into the souls of the men who experienced the war - their hopes, dreams, nightmares, and fears - and to give readers unprecedented insight into the way the war has touched those men and the families they left behind when they deployed.

This book is neither pro-war nor anti-war. It does not represent an effort to glorify or demonize any person or policy. It is, quite simply, an honest account of the realities on the ground for one battalion of soldiers based in a hostile environment during one of the most crucial periods of the war. In meticulous and thoughtful detail, Finkel recounts the experiences of the individuals who served in the 2-16, from the early days of anticipation, to the final days of dealing with the realities of a complex and often frustrating conflict with no easy answers and no clean conclusion. Much of the book focuses on the confident and optimistic commander of the 2-16, Lieutenant Colonel Ralph Kauzlarich, but readers will also come to know dozens of other personalities from the battalion, running from the top to the bottom of the chain of command.
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71 of 75 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars From someone who's been there October 12, 2009
Format:Hardcover
I wasn't with the 2-16, but after reading this book, I agree with another reviewer in that I felt like it was almost written about me and my unit. Loops around the FOB; an Ambien to sleep, and then another, and then another and then another; rearranging furniture, positioning yourself a certain way in the turret for when an EFP might hit so you'd still have one good leg. It's all real. This book was hard to read. I read it as I flew back from Iraq and in public, there were times I needed to put the book down, breathe deep, and thank God I have a Xanax prescription to go with the Ambien. Well told story, excellently written, and I recommend it to anyone with family or a loved one over there. This book writes about what a lot of us did over there, and how we dealt with it. It might help you understand them and why they act and do the things they do. As a soldier who's been there, I ask you to read it. Try and understand us better.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars The author has made that problem and that suffering and that...
What a powerful, dynamic, somber and touching book. The horror we as a nation have been dragged into by short-sighted, war mongers is displayed in the tragic results it has... Read more
Published 2 days ago by Rich
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
Well written and disturbing account of one aspect of the surge in Bagdad.
Published 6 days ago by William B. Stanley
5.0 out of 5 stars An amazing non fiction book about the war in Iraq by a writer who was...
An amazing story of the brave men who fought in Iraq! Put you right in the field with them. Written by a correspondent who was embedded with them. Great writing! Read more
Published 9 days ago by Lizzie
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
A compassionate view of active duty in Iraq.
Published 15 days ago by Fred Kwant
5.0 out of 5 stars The Fog of War....again
Comprehensive, complicated and conflicted portrayal of Operation Iraqi Freedom.
Published 17 days ago by Longhorn Skier
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Like new book. Let me suiggest not putting adhesive stickers on Jacket.
Published 20 days ago by Steve E.
5.0 out of 5 stars Required reading
If your an American and you enjoy all the freedoms that comes with being an American you should read this book, freedom is not freedom, men and women pay for your freedom... Read more
Published 26 days ago by Freedom
5.0 out of 5 stars who better to highlight the awfulness of war and the life ...
As an embedded journalist, who better to highlight the awfulness of war and the life issues that haunt so many on return (if they make it). An awesome read.
Published 28 days ago by Ray Williams
3.0 out of 5 stars A good picture of why we should not be fighting ground ...
A good picture of why we should not be fighting ground wars in the Middle East. The book gave no clear picture of who the enemy actually was. Did the author not know? Read more
Published 29 days ago by Jay A. Harvey
5.0 out of 5 stars Great compelling reas
Found this account of the war a compelling read ! RIP those that lost there lives of 2-16 battalion.
Published 1 month ago by Kerryn
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More About the Author

David Finkel is a staff writer for The Washington Post and is also the leader of the Post's national reporting team. He won the Pulitzer Prize for explanatory reporting in 2006 for a series of stories about U.S.-funded democracy efforts in Yemen.

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