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The Good Soldiers Paperback – August 3, 2010

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Picador; Reprint edition (August 3, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312430027
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312430023
  • Product Dimensions: 8.2 x 6.1 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (325 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #18,023 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


“Finkel has made art out of a defining moment in history. You will be able to take this book down from the shelf years from now and say: 'This is what happened. This is what it felt like.'” —Doug Stanton, The New York Times Book Review

“Let me be direct. The Good Soldiers by David Finkel is the most honest, most painful, and most brilliantly rendered account of modern war I’ve ever read. I got no exercise at all the day I gulped down its 284 riveting pages.” —Daniel Okrent, Fortune

“Over and over, I cried. I endured nightmares. I have read hundreds of books about war and almost two dozen books about the U.S. invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq. Most of them affected me. But none has affected me as deeply as The Good Soldiers.” —Steve Weinberg, The Kansas City Star

“Heart-stopping . . . captures the surreal horror of war.” —Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times

“A whole generation of these men will (God willing) be coming home, and The Good Soldiers is as good a guide as I can imagine to who they'll be when they get here.” —Devin Friedman, GQ

“[A] new classic . . . the reader cannot get enough . . . As a compelling read, The Good Soldiers is all good.” —J. Ford Huffman, Military Times

“David Finkel has written the most unforgettable book of the Iraq War, a masterpiece that will far outlast the fighting.” —David Maraniss, author of They Marched into Sunlight

“From a Pulitzer Prize-winning writer at the height of his powers comes an incandescent and profoundly moving book: powerful, intense, enraging. This may be the best book on war since the Iliad.” —Geraldine Brooks, author of People of the Book and March

“This is the best account I have read of the life of one unit in the Iraq War. It is closely observed, carefully recorded, and beautifully written. David Finkel doesn’t just take you into the lives of our soldiers, he takes you deep into their nightmares.” —Thomas E. Ricks, author of Fiasco and The Gamble

“Brilliant, heartbreaking, deeply true. The Good Soldiers offers the most intimate view of life and death in a twenty-first-century combat unit I have ever read. Unsparing, unflinching, and, at times, unbearable.” —Rick Atkinson, author of An Army at Dawn and The Day of Battle

“This is the finest book yet written on the platoon-level combat of the Iraq war . . . Unforgettable—raw, moving, and rendered with literary control . . . No one who reads this book will soon forget its imagery, words, or characters.” —Steve Coll, author of Ghost Wars

"Vivid and moving . . .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." —Publishers Weekly, starred review

"A superb account of the burdens soldiers bear." —Kirkus Reviews, starred review

About the Author

David Finkel is a senior writer-in-residence at the Center for a New American Security and the national enterprise editor at The Washington Post. He is the recipient of the MacArther "Genius" Fellowship. Finkel won the Pulitzer Prize for explanatory reporting in 2006 for a series of stories about U.S.-funded democracy efforts in Yemen. He lives in Silver Spring, Maryland, with his wife and two daughters. Email him at davidfinkel@thegoodsoldiers.com.

Customer Reviews

It is the only way I have had to really understand the sacrifices made by soldiers--and their families.
Even though you only get to know a couple of the soldiers in any depth, the reality and suffering portrayed in this book will probably make you cry more than once.
Will Bullard
I was very impressed at how well David Finkel captured the emotion of this deployment that I was a part of.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

300 of 313 people found the following review helpful By Nathan Webster TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 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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136 of 139 people found the following review helpful By Christopher G. Wright on 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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112 of 119 people found the following review helpful By AcornMan on 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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70 of 74 people found the following review helpful By Brian R. on 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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