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Ghost Fleet: A Novel of the Next World War
Ghost Fleet: A Novel of the Next World War
by P. W. Singer
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $13.18
95 used & new from $2.99

2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Not even Tom Clancy was writing Tom Clancy books toward ..., July 31, 2015
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Not even Tom Clancy was writing Tom Clancy books toward the end. So I can't blame the authors for the techno thriller equivalent of The Olive Garden - everything looks authentic, but there isn't much behind the facade.

There is a certain cadence to the classic techno thriller - the real star is the big ideas and disaster set pieces. There characters don't need to be well-rounded. They exist as point of view references in the canvass of a larger painting. Think of The Dance of the Vampires in Red Storm Rising, the Battle of Ninja Hill in Clear and Present Danger, the counterattack in Team Yankee, Three Shakes in The Sum of All Fears, the North Korean commandos at the bridge in Red Phoenix.

But Clancy had meat behind his stories. Ghost Fleet has a thin veneer of breadcrums with a small piece of chicken inside. Sure it looks delicious, but it leaves you wanting something ... more.

I wanted more about Wal Mart and how they helped supply the war. I wanted more about conscription, about the "chip drives" to disassemble electronics and create weapons of war from old tablet computers. I wanted more about the life of civilians under occupation in Hawaii.

I gave the book four stars although I wish I could give it five. Do yourself a favor. Read the book for the pure pleasure of its realism, then go back and read Red Storm Rising so you aren't left hungry afterward.


The Yellow Birds: A Novel
The Yellow Birds: A Novel
by Kevin Powers
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $19.39
330 used & new from $0.01

409 of 454 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A book about war, but not my war, October 16, 2012
Operation Iraqi Freedom wasn't one war, it was three.

The first war was from the initial invasion until about 2005-2006. This was the time when we were still figuring out how this whole war thing was supposed to be fought. It was when we ran patrols in soft-skinned Hummers and ran over IEDs that killed entire crews. We didn't have the right equipment. We didn't know the right tactics. We did the wrong things. We abused prisoners. We made mistakes. We holed up in FOBs and went out to do... well, shows of force while the big heads in the Green Zone rewrote Iraqi traffic laws. This is the time span in which the book takes place.

The second war was the surge which lasted from 2006 until about 2009. This was when we poured money into the clear-hold-build strategy. This strategy started to work, especially when the Sons of Iraq were formed and we worked hand-in-hand with the Iraqis as they started to figure out that they had a stake in this after all. We fought smarter and had better equipment. This was when Iran started pumping EFPs into the bombmaker's arsenals, but it's also when we really pushed to counter the bombs and the bombmakers. This was the war of The Hurt Locker.

The third war was from 2009 until 2011 as we closed bases and started to pull out. This was the long kiss goodnight as we packed up and left and let the Iraqis do most of the fighting. This was the war of the Fobbits - the soldiers who never left the FOB and consumed ice cream, attended Salsa Night and toured Saddam's Palaces.

Everybody's experience is different. Mine was from 2008 - 2009 some of it as a Fobbit, and some of it running convoys. To me, Iraq will always look like miles and miles of concrete T-walls with the sound of a generator running in the background, or the view outside an armored M1115 window as we pulled onto Route Irish.

I had high hopes for the book. I wanted it to reflect the feeling in my stomach as we pulled onto Route Michigan and I got that sinking feeling that I was going to get hit that day. I wanted it to explain what it felt like to have a tourniquet velcroed to my arm and leg on the door side of the vehicle, just in case I got blasted. I wanted it to reflect how I felt when I was turned away at the chow hall because I had just come off of mission and my uniform was too messy to eat inside.

But it didn't reflect any of that because I served in the second war and the author served in the first.

For me, Iraq was kind of akin to a daily commute where you never knew if the curb in front of you was going to explode, peppered with the stupidity of your boss yelling at you because you didn't wear the right shirt to work that day.

Maybe somebody will write a book like that one day. Heck, maybe I will. But I can't call "The Yellow Birds" a definitive book about Iraq. I can't even call it a definitive book about war in general.

It is probably a good account of men going numb. But there is no joy in the novel. There is no highlights on the funny, stupid, games that privates play when the boredom sets in.

The book displayed moments of brilliance, namely when it explained combat as that dump of adrenaline in an auto accident. That was spot-on. It knocked my socks off when it showed how angry the main character was when everybody called him a hero, and he wanted to break their noses for it.

That made me want to give the book five stars.

But parts of the book just didn't ring true to me. There was no humor. You never felt the fear or fatigue of the soldier. Maybe the soldiers in the first war just felt hollow all of the time and I just have no capability of understanding it? But that part of the book made we want to give it one star.

So as a compromise , I settle on three. The book is worth buying just for those two moments of brilliance that I explained two paragraphs above, but it will never be my war so my review may be biased in favor of what I expected.

Edit, after a few years, I actually did write a novella: "Debriding Iraq" which you can find at [...] . I am still seeking an agent for a larger project.
Comment Comments (40) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jun 30, 2016 3:38 AM PDT


Charlie Battery: A Marine Artillery Unit in Iraq (Hellgate Memories Series) (Hellgate Memories Series)
Charlie Battery: A Marine Artillery Unit in Iraq (Hellgate Memories Series) (Hellgate Memories Series)
by Andrew Lubin
Edition: Paperback
Price: $16.95
28 used & new from $0.01

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Operation Iraqi Freedom From a Dad's perspective, January 28, 2009
There is the truth and there is The Truth. Andrew Lubin tells The Truth in this fascinating account of Marine Artillerymen in the initial invasion of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Not many people remember the battle of Al Nasiriyah. Those who do remember the battle have a fuzzy memory of Private Jessica Lynch and her rescue. But the battle of Al Nasiriyah is burned in the mind of Andrew Lubin because his son was there as an artilleryman on a Marine 155mm howitzer.

Andrew Lubin builds the culture of Marine artillery up brick by brick, explaining positions and piece of equipment in an exceptionally readable and accessible style. He offers a different point of view from many recent war histories since the invasion is viewed from a worried father's perspective. Through the entire book, Charley Battery keeps the politics at a minimum, focusing instead on the young Marines feeding the guns and living in the hot sand.

I'd strongly recommend this book to any civilian who wants to view the war from a different angle, or for any soldier or Marine who may one day lead young men into combat.


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