From Publishers Weekly
The thing about fighting in a war, relates one soldier in this penetrating, terrifying and important book, "is that there's no way to put into words what actually happened." Yet with these brutally straightforward accounts by 29 American veterans of the Iraq War, Wood—an award-winning Canadian investigative reporter—proves her own subject wrong. Wood's deftness as interviewer and editor renders her own presence scarce, freeing each soldier to provide firsthand looks at botched reconstruction efforts, intelligence snafus and the practicalities of heroism. Among these stories by soldiers from widely varying ideological and personal backgrounds, unexpected examples are the born-again Christian, appalled by the abuse he witnesses at Abu Ghraib, who asks, "America, what always makes us right?"; and the ex-drug addict, a self-described "left-wing nut," who calls the war "a meaningless conflict" yet acknowledges that "I loved every firefight I was in because for those few brief seconds nothing else matters." Colloquial, coarse and compelling, these narratives flash with humor, horror, nihilism and poesy. Despite the layers of tragedy, the ascendant message is one of courage and self-sacrifice amid war's absurdities. 16 pages b&w photos. (Nov.)
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Wood, an investigative journalist who has been working with veterans of the Iraq war for more than two years, compiles interviews with 29 veterans of the war. Most interviewees describe their experiences in a chilling, matter-of-fact manner, but the raw savagery of the events they witnessed and the violence they endured and perpetrated make this a powerful tale of men at war. A navy corpsman goes from boredom and antsiness waiting for the war to begin in Kuwait to the chaos and confusion of a tank battle to the shock of having a soldier die in his arms. An infantryman sounds curiously detached as he relates his reactions to a suicide bombing that killed a close friend. A tank gunner coldly and without apology states his readiness to "slap around" civilians if firing came from their vicinity. Wood does not seem to have a political agenda, since the soldiers she quotes are neither pro- nor antiwar. Instead, her efforts are simply a reminder of the horrors of war as seen by those who fight it. Jay FreemanCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved