Top critical review
10 people found this helpful
OK for journalistic war reportage, but...
on January 23, 2012
Maybe two-and-a-half stars:
While the author's personal story, the loss of his fiancée, is certainly nothing less than tragic, the manner in which it's interwoven with the war reporting didn't work for me (not just the details of the relationship, but the way in which those details are often presented via emails, texts etc.). There were so many times when, rather than admiring him for his candor regarding his relationship issues, I sort of cringed in embarrassment at their telling. Couldn't help but wonder if he realizes how unflattering a portrait he paints of himself? With obvious hindsight, he acknowledges the folly of the Iraq invasion but that certainly doesn't stop him from seeming to revel in the whole "glamorous war correspondent" stereotype and the attendant macho man fantasies. I certainly feel compassion for the murder of this young woman and can understand that he was seeking to honor her memory in some fashion, but his often smug and self-absorbed take on the events related didn't do her memory adequate justice in my opinion despite what may have been his best intentions.
As far as the war reporting from Baghdad, there are many better accounts, Dexter Filkins' _The Forever_ War comes immediately to mind, and when in the early pages one finds such a glaring factual error as the date of the first Iraq (Gulf)War (cited herein as beginning in January 1992--it was a year earlier, it may make one question other aspects of credibility and carelessness. The fact that the author, seeking to somehow "personalize" the event of the war's start date, ties it into to his being in fifth grade at the time, may be that's part of the problem?
There are always some issues, I think, when journalists put their experiences into book form, but there are also examples (Filkins' account as noted) that show that it can be done right.