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Just Another Soldier: A Year on the Ground in Iraq Hardcover – October 4, 2005
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From Publishers Weekly
It's not that the Army cared he had a blog, surmises Hartley in his candid tell-all about life as a National Guardsman in Iraq, it's that they objected to the blog's content. Had he blogged in vague terms about his battalion's missions, he may never have faced the threat of a court-martial. Instead, Hartley's blog entries are typical of the medium: honest, conversational, self-effacing, critical and loaded with references to pop culture that simultaneously flew over the heads of his commanders while hitting them square in the gut. Philosophical at points and scatological at others, Hartley makes no effort to romanticize soldier culture, or to validate any political viewpoint, and it's this absence of agenda that makes his memoir such an original, if frustrating, work. Readers will naturally look for a directive on what to think about America's ongoing military effort in Iraq, but Hartley offers no trite conclusions, defending Operation Iraqi Freedom almost as much as he mocks it. A soldier in a shapeless war, he elaborates on raids and missions and music and masturbation as though each is an equivalent aspect to the overall infantryman experience. The transition from blog to book is not entirely smooth, however, especially when Hartley describes the drama that unfolds when he and his superiors duke it out over his blog. It's not surprising that his blog landed him in hot water, nor is it as interesting as the acerbic ruminations on day-to-day events that, fortunately, make up the bulk of Hartley's arresting narrative.
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“This is, in Hartley’s words, ‘something honest and raw.’” (Deseret News)
“Profane, insightful, funny, exasperating, occasionally philosophical, usually down and dirty and a book to be remembered.” (St. Louis Post-Dispatch)
“Exposes the tedium of war and the slow disillusionment of a veteran infantryman” (People)
“Often emotional, always full of vivid description and, above all, compelling.” (Charleston Post & Courier)
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I fealt that the author did not take a political point of view, but kept to describing what it was like to be a grunt.