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The War I Always Wanted: The Illusion of Glory and the Reality of War Hardcover – August 15, 2007


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Zenith Press; 1st edition (August 15, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0760331502
  • ISBN-13: 978-0760331507
  • Product Dimensions: 8.7 x 5.9 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (36 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,604,390 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

This cynical but appealing memoir by a lieutenant in the elite 101st Airborne recounts his unpleasant times fighting in Afghanistan and Iraq. After a quick review of his youth (shy, smart, dreaming of glory), Friedman describes his unit's deployment to Afghanistan after 9/11 to fight the Taliban. Its mission turns out to be guarding an air base, four months of demoralizing boredom followed by urgent orders into battle. The result is an exhausting 11-hour march high into freezing mountains, where the soldiers arrive as the fighting ends. A year later, as American forces invade Iraq in March 2003, Friedman's unit advances almost to Baghdad without encountering resistance but yearning to fight. There follows three months of dull occupation duty until, to everyone's horror, a grenade kills two soldiers on patrol, and the insurgency begins. The author accepts that America needed to fight in Afghanistan, but can't fathom why we invaded Iraq. He does not re-enlist. Given the public's waning support for the war in Iraq, Friedman's voice is likely to be heard by sympathetic ears. (Aug. 15)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Review

Publishers Weekly, June 25, 2007

“This cynical but appealing memoir by a lieutenant in the elite 101st Airborne recounts his unpleasant times fighting in Afghanistan and Iraq. After a quick review of his youth (shy, smart, dreaming of glory), Friedman describes his unit's deployment to Afghanistan after 9/11 to fight the Taliban. Its mission turns out to be guarding an air base, four months of demoralizing boredom followed by urgent orders into battle. The result is an exhausting 11-hour march high into freezing mountains, where the soldiers arrive as the fighting ends. A year later, as American forces invade Iraq in March 2003, Friedman's unit advances almost to Baghdad without encountering resistance but yearning to fight. There follows three months of dull occupation duty until, to everyone's horror, a grenade kills two soldiers on patrol, and the insurgency begins. The author accepts that America needed to fight in Afghanistan, but can't fathom why we invaded Iraq. He does not re-enlist. Given the public's waning support for the war in Iraq, Friedman's voice is likely to be heard by sympathetic ears.”



Dallas Morning News

Throughout this terse and emotionally honest memoir, Mr. Friedman is equally introspective as he is descriptive. This allows readers to experience things alongside him, rather than merely gasp in awe at his heroics or sit clucking in judgment....This intimacy differentiates his book from other fine, if partisan, war memoirs that have come before it this summer: the wry and cynical Blood Makes the Grass Grow Green by the pseudonymous Jonny Rico, and Navy SEAL Marcus Luttrell's flag-waving Lone Survivor....No, Mr. Friedman's wartime experience wasn't worthy of winning him a Medal of Honor (he did earn two Bronze Stars) or even an option for a Hollywood screenplay, but it did endow him with a wisdom beyond his years. Surviving a war, it seems, takes a bit of luck; coping with the memory and aftermath of one takes maturity.


Army/Navy/Marine Corps/Air Force Times, Nov. 3, 2007

“Friedman’s take is vivid, frank, precise, and dramatic. Currently a contributor to the Daily Kos blog, Friedman served as an officer in Afghanistan and Iraq – but his being served ouzo in Greece is the book’s dramatic zenith, a tense account in which he successfully evokes feelings of being entrapped, of being duped, of being near harm. These feelings illustrate the effect of war and politics on one veteran fresh off the lines.”
             
The Viginian-Pilot, Dec.  2, 2007

“A candid, timely combat memoir … Well-written by an intellectual man, this book recalls classics such as Goodbye Darkness, The Coldest War, With the Old Breed, and countless others. Friedman offers frank descriptions and commentary about the incongruity of daily events, the deadly cruelty of an implacable enemy, and the terrible accidents that plague any large operation.” 

 


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Customer Reviews

In short, nothing should stop you: read this book.
Stephen Biddleman
This first-person account of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq was fascinating and informative.
Susan Doman
It's fast-paced, exciting, as readable as a great novel.
J. T. Larcade

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

57 of 61 people found the following review helpful By P. Austin on July 17, 2007
Format: Hardcover
A stunning first effort; I loved this book! I don't usually read books in the military genre, but I loved this one. "The War I Always Wanted" is a moving memoir of a young man's experience in Afghanistan and Iraq, but it's really even larger than that. It's more of a "coming-of-age" story. Friedman is a skillful young writer who does not lose his readers in military terminology, acronyms, or long descriptions of maneuvers and strategy. This is a much more personal story. More than once I found myself with tears in my eyes as I empathized with what was happening not just to him but to other characters in his story (his mother, for example). His descriptions put you right in the middle of the scene (the marathon march in Afghanistan...), yet he is equally adept in making you feel for yourself the range of emotions he goes through (the girl with the rose). The conclusion is fabulous; again, he alienates no one. Young adults will even be moved by Friedman's story; I plan to use the book in my high-school classroom as part of a larger unit with also includes writings by Tim O'brien (a writer Friedman eclipses, in my opinion.) One of the best things about this book, I think, is that you can enjoy it and relate to it regardless of how you feel about the current situation in Iraq and Afghanistan.
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49 of 52 people found the following review helpful By PG on August 22, 2007
Format: Hardcover
As a fellow Iraq Veteran (OIF I) I felt this book was so realistic it brought me back to those fateful days in March 2003 waiting in the Kuwaiti desert for the inevitable "war" to begin. From the false NBC (nuclear, biological & chemical) alarms to the sandstorm of near biblical proportions, nothing I have read prior to this book has brought those days back in such a clear and concise way. I highly suggest this book to those who wonder what it is like to serve in a combat zone.
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36 of 38 people found the following review helpful By C. J. Brickner on August 14, 2007
Format: Hardcover
The sadly surreal, surprisingly boring and at times terrifying reality of war, put down on paper by someone who knows how to write. One soldier's unflinchingly straightforward experience. Highly educational for all who have not experienced armed service or combat. All at once satisfying, heartbreaking and informative. Well worth the read.
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20 of 21 people found the following review helpful By Mark S. Mandell on October 23, 2007
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Reading this reminded me of Dalton Trumbo's classic book on WWI, "Johnny Got His Gun" though that book took a stridently anti-war position throughout. Not that this doesn't at all but I would consider it to be more neutral where that's concerned even with the author's disenchantment with the Iraq War;on the other hand because of 9/11, he felt his commitment to fight in Afghanistan to be a just cause. The italicized first person observations reminded me of the stream of consciousness technique found in Faulkner's "The Sound and The Fury."

So all in all, a first rate literary accomplishment.
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21 of 23 people found the following review helpful By J. T. Larcade on November 19, 2007
Format: Hardcover
My Infantryman (son) returned last month from the war in Iraq, and was thrilled at touching down on U.S. soil, full of hyperactive banter about a layover in Ireland where he went into an airport pub, yet he was curiously quiet, if you can picture that. Then he arrived at Fort ______, home base, and I asked him on the phone if he was ecstatic, and he seemed to mean it when he said, "Hell yeah!" He chattered about all the things he was going to do. But it wasn't a week later that I found him frustrated, growling, saying he'd rather be back in Iraq. He laid out a few short, sweet reasons, too. This from a young man (he turned 20 over there) who has made up his mind not to re-enlist, even though he's wanted to be a "soldier" since he was four.

Now when he comes home on leave next week, if he seems changed, out-of-sorts...maybe even out of sorts with ME...I'll understand, and be equipped not to make that be about ME. So thank you, Lieutenant Friedman. I strictly bought your book for the title, because it seemed to be about my son.

Outside of what I needed (and got) from it personally...wonderful book! Except for Catch 22, Slaughterhouse Five, and maybe you could count EXODUS (Leon Uris), I am no reader/seeker of war books, but I couldn't put this one down. It's fast-paced, exciting, as readable as a great novel. Riveting, sometimes upsetting...but without beating a drum, it SHOWS you what you might not have considered about THIS WAR, and all war, and your loved ones who are (or might become) soldiers in a war.

There was a time or two when I wanted to smack our young protagonist upside his head, but I think the author knows this. And there was the time I closed the book and laid it down for several minutes, because I had to bawl hard out loud.
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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Reader on December 27, 2007
Format: Hardcover
One of two war books I have read since the DMZ in Vietnam, this book gets the distinction between preconceived notions of war and the experience of war. The times that can be emotional if we allow them to, and the experience of one of the most alive times one can experience, is captured in this book in a way I could never have expressed myself--and I've tried. This one truly "gets it". Strongly recommended!
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21 of 23 people found the following review helpful By A Physician on October 18, 2007
Format: Hardcover
I think this will be considered one of the classics coming from the growing body of Iraq War memoirs. Friedman is a gifted writer and this is certainly one of the most well-written accounts I've read coming from this War. Friedman grew up watching the same war movies I did and had the same fantasies of glory in battle. He went to war and found that it isn't the stuff of a kid's dreams. His telling of coming home and trying to adjust to life outside of the Army and away from "his war" is particularly powerful. Should be read with "One Bullet Away" (Nathaniel Fick), another classic in this genre.
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