- Paperback: 368 pages
- Publisher: Dutton Caliber; Reprint edition (September 5, 2006)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0425211363
- ISBN-13: 978-0425211366
- Product Dimensions: 6 x 1 x 9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 118 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #650,144 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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My War: Killing Time in Iraq Paperback – September 5, 2006
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"Incredible accounts of combat from a grunt's-eye-view."-Rolling Stone Magazine
"There's no way any reporter could have brought this back. If you care about our brave soldiers in the fray and want to get an insight into what it's really like out there, My War is essential reading." - Henry Rollins
"My War is breathtaking. His self-awareness is total and unromantic, his instinct for what matters unrelenting, his writing lyrical, heartbreaking, hilarious, and essential."-Robert Kurson, author of Shadow Divers
"Endlessly surprising...delightfully profane... an unfiltered, often ferocious expression of his boots-on-the-ground point-of-view of the Iraq war." - Arianna Huffington
Profound, profane....told with irresistible gallows humor and anger devoid of self-consciousness. Give[s] us a much deeper understanding of the war. -- Atlanta Journal Constitution
From the Back Cover
A raw, edgy, yet intimate new voice from the front lines in Iraq-the most authentic we have had yet from the war, heralding this generation's Catch-22.
Like many of his generation, Colby Buzzell was jumping from one dead-end job to another, a paycheck away from moving back home. He spent his time skateboarding and killing as many brain cells as humanly possible. Tired of the monotony, he found himself in front of an army recruiter. Within months he was in Iraq, a machine gunner in the controversial Stryker Brigade Combat Team, an army unit on the cutting edge of combat technology, and the first of its kind.
This is the startlingly honest story of a young man and a war. Trapped amid "guerilla warfare, urban-style" in Mosul, Iraq, Buzzell was struck by the bizarre, absurd, often frightening world surrounding him. He began writing an online web log describing the war-not as it was being reported by CNN or in briefings on Capitol Hill, but as he experienced it. The result is an extraordinary narrative, rich with unforgettable scenes: the fierce firefight in which the resistance came from "men in black"; chain-smoking in the guard tower, counting the tracer rounds fired over the city; the raid on an Iraqi home during which a woman couldn't stop screaming as her husband was being taken away; and the hesitation of a young soldier who had been passed around from platoon to platoon because he was too afraid to fight. As the popularity of his "blog" grew, Buzzell became the embedded reporter the army couldn't control despite its best-and often hilarious-efforts to do so.
My War is the debut of a fresh and remarkable voice, and it is already being compared to the classics of youth and combat Herr's Dispatches and Heller's Catch-22. But My War is much more than a war story; it is the story of a generation caught between the hyper-reality of a technological age and an ever more complicated and dangerous world.
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I wish that this book was required reading for every armchair general who insists on telling everyone exactly how the war is, despite the fact that the closest they've come is watching Black Hawk Down on Blu-Ray.
One thing I really liked about this book is that it was in no way a vehicle for Buzzell to air his petty grievances. I've already read a couple war books that were nothing more than a chance to voice every complaint that the author ever had about their chain of command and fellow soldiers and how unfairly they were treated by the system. Buzzell is mouthy, irreverant and unafraid to step on a few toes, but never whiny or sniveling in this book.
Without knowing the author in real life I still manage to get the feeling of true honesty in this book. He doesn't even attempt to sugarcoat his reasons for joining the Army in the first place. You'll find no teary-eyed proclamations of patriotism here (though that is not to say that Buzzell is not a patriot and a true example of "America's finest"). Instead, Buzzell very honestly admits that his decision to join was spurred by the realization that his life was going nowhere and by an urge to seek out adventure. Buzzell is very frank about his reasons for wanting to become an infantryman and relates this thirst for killing that some might find distasteful in a very, "Here I am; take it or leave it", manner.
As you can see, I highly recommend this book. I recommend it for people thinking about joining the military, people interested in the military, the war in Iraq or just anyone who enjoys reading.
He "stream of conscious" writing (at least the first third of the book) was a bit difficult - long, rambling, run-on sentences, reminiscent of a high school student's journal. As the book progresses, his writing tightens up, becomes much clearer, and his "voice" much stronger. Whether this is intentional or not, it is telling of what is happening to Colby: he is maturing, growing up and finding his voice (and himself.)
As a Gulf War veteran, I have mixed feelings about _My War_. Writing about his life before he joined the Army, I honestly didn't like him. As Buzzell entered the Army and was sent to Iraq, a palpable change took place - as his writing changed, so did my opinion of him. By the end of the book, I became genuinely fond of him. Similarly, I found some of the things he complained about ridiculous: you're a grunt. Suck it up. On the other hand, I shared his frustration at the bureaucracy and underhanded methods the Army used in handling him and his blog. His commitment to his platoon members and fidelity to his battallion CO was inspiring.
I would recommend it along with John Crawford's _The Last True Story I'll Ever Tell_ and Nathaniel Fick's _One Bullet Away_ for other perspectives on the infantry in general and OIF specifically.
"I was smoking like a chimney, one right after another. My nerves were completely shot and I was emotionally drained and I noticed that my hands were still kinda shaking ... I was thinking how lucky I was to be alive. I've never experienced anything like the fear I felt today ..."
Stryker machine-gunner Buzzell is a curious character in his own story. Intelectually curious, he is a voracious reader of good books, yet he seems to find little to like in this world. Possessed of a wicked and ironically sly sense of humor, he uses it repeatedly to jab at our country's leaders, the war, politics, the media - just about everything, in fact, including himself. I found myself liking the guy in spite of myself. He made me laugh and he made me wince in recognition. His narrative, with its casual attitude towards porno, "spank" mags and masturbation among the troops, brought to mind Tony Swofford's book about the first Gulf war, JARHEAD - although Buzzell himself dismisses that book scornfully, and that first "war" as well. It was also very like Johnny Rico's fine memoir of the current war in Afghanistan, BLOOD MAKES THE GRASS GROW GREENER. It also flashed me back to my own war, the Cold War. Soldiers are the same, regardless of the setting or the era, it would seem. Nothing much changes. Buzzell's choice of a title for his memoir-cum-blog, MY WAR, is certainly not unique. It is the third military memoir I have read with this title. The others were both WWII memories from journalist Andy Rooney and artist Tracy Sugarman, both fine books. And so is this one. The army tried to call Buzzell back to active duty in 2008, but he was found to be unfit for service - PTSD. The physical, mental and emotional casualties from Iraq and Afghanistan continue to mount and multiply, and the ends to these wars are still not clearly in sight. Perhaps books like Buzzell's will help speed their resolutions. I hope so. - Tim Bazzett, author of SOLDIER BOY, AT PLAY IN THE ASA