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Watches Without Time: An American Soldier in Afghanistan
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on August 29, 2012
Format: Paperback
Matt takes us through his deployment with skill and knowledge, yet never loses his sense of compassion and often flavors it with wit and sarcasm. Colorful episodes of an obviously life changing time in his life told as I've never heard a soldier's tale told before. As our politicians seem to be sweeping this war under their campaign carpets, Matt reminds us of the sacrifices that thousands of our brave men and women have faced over the past 11 years and opens up a closer look at what they often face once they return home.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on September 5, 2012
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
I have to preface this review by stating that I am a former colleague of the author. We served in the Headquarters of the same National Guard brigade in New York State. I had only recently returned from a deployment to Iraq as a Civil Affairs Officer. When I met him, Matt was a junior Military Intelligence Officer, extremely motivated and professional. He picked my brain about my Iraq experience and the people; I willingly obliged as no one else seemed interested. They were too busy "planning". I remember thinking: "If any of the other junior officers are as professional, willing to learn, and able to think 'outside the box', we may just win this new kind of war." Hell, Matt doesn't even remember what the box looks like..

As I read the first chapters, my mind kept going back to my pre-deployment for Iraq. I was eager and naive (in the sense that I couldn't possibly know what to expect). This is the state of mind we find Zeller and his fellow soldiers, knowing that, even after they completed their grueling, mind-numbing training, there was still the specter of Afghanistan looming on the horizon. At the beginnings of the chapters, there are black and white photos of Matt and his teammates, many of whom were friends and associates I'd helped train before my retirement. I couldn't help feel for them, knowing that they would never be the same within a year.

Matt soon finds himself in harm's way, pinned down by enemy fire; he's scared, but he's more scared that he will let down his comrades than get shot. Once again, I can identify with this. I recognize the stages that my troops and I went through 5 years before, in a different sandbox. And then, we find CPT Zeller finally back home with his loved ones, but changed forever, and resentful of the fact that civilians don't understand him.

Interwoven with these intensely personal experiences is some of the most comprehensive analysis of our involvement in Afghanistan and our War on Terror. Zeller gets down in the weeds and explains, through his own experiences, how we are possibly doomed to lose this war, and what we can do to turn it around. This is not the White House, the State Department, the Pentagon, or the pundits talking; it's someone who really knows what's going on over where the arrows are flying.

Three groups of people will find this book useful: Iraq/Afghanistan vets who will be able to identify with Zeller's combat experiences and say "Oh, yeah! That happened to me, too." The next are soldiers who have yet to be sent Down Range, and want to get up to speed on the political and cultural intricacies of the Middle East. The third are ordinary Americans who need an in-depth look at the war in Afghanistan, its successes and failures, and how they happened to become successes and failures.

In short, a great book from a soldier who walked the walk. From one Turtle to another, great job, Matt!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on September 18, 2012
Format: Paperback
Zeller does an excellent job of detailing from start to finish, top to bottom, exciting to mundane, what its like to do a tour as an embedded trainer with Afghan Security Forces. He captures the thrill, terror, boredome, confusion, bonding and bickering that goes on when men go to war, let alone men from two different cultures and countries united in the cauldron that is Afghanistan.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on July 26, 2013
Format: Paperback
I read this book while our son was deployed to "the sandbox" and Matt's point I believe is to educate our leadership about what actually happens and what lessons he learned. This should be required reading for our military and politicians who make decisions to send our men and women into harms way. THANK YOU for serving Matt and for being brave and dedicated enough to write this book. Don't read this for entertainment but rather to get a good close up understanding of what it takes to make a difference!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on March 31, 2014
Format: Kindle EditionVerified Purchase
Great book. Easy read. Tells us how it is to be in a war. Does a nice job. Loved it.
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on August 7, 2014
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
I learned so much I did not know about the war in Afghanistan. Matt Zeller's writing is concise and passionate enough to make the reader feel they are there experiencing what he did. Through his eyes we see triumphs at progress and frustrations when progress comes to an abrupt halt, and for multiple reasons. We owe Matt and the men and women like him a bundle of appreciation for their sacrifice in serving our country. This is a good read that I highly recommend.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on December 14, 2013
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
Matt Zeller is a gifted writer. I am reading this to get a feel for the Afghanistan that my son is currently deployed to. Always appreciative of the candor and Mr. Zeller's honesty about his feelings and experience. Thank you, sir, for your Service!
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2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on February 2, 2013
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
First of all, I'm more than a little biased, as Matt is a former student of mine. So as I was reading it, I could hear his voice, almost as if it were a book on tape. The book is a very detailed description of Matt's training and deployment in Afghanistan in 2008. I was receiving his emails at that time, which were the source of some of the book, so much of it sounded familiar. But what did not come through in the emails were his internal struggles, both in Afghanistan and after he returned. I am sad that so many young men like Matt, full of life, energy, and patriotism, come back finding it very difficult to separate themselves from the war. Most of us sit here in our comfortable homes, oblivious to what our countrymen are being subjected to half a world away, and even more oblivious to the difficulties they face once they return. Matt has provided us with a very detailed, almost microscopic look at a soldier's life at war. Perhaps one day he will write a sequel that examines the equally important story of the homecoming.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on September 3, 2013
Format: Paperback
I read this as an e-book. It should be read by every American wanting to understand the war in Afganistan, and by extension, the realities of any modern "limited war".
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