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Nothing in Reserve: true stories, not war stories. Paperback – April 19, 2011

4.9 out of 5 stars 35 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


"Insightful and from the heart, Nothing in Reserve is a driven and much recommended look into the mind and conflict of the next generation of war veterans."
--Midwest Book Review

"Nothing in Reserve is an intensely personal and relevant look at America in the early 21st century and one of the best books written about the Iraq War yet."
--Chris Grygiel, Associated Press

From the Back Cover

Road Work... is about as perfect a short story as any author could hope to craft--and like the rest of Jack's writing, it hits hard and leaves a mark.
Andrew Carroll,
editor of Operation Homecoming
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 310 pages
  • Publisher: Litsam Press (April 19, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1935878026
  • ISBN-13: 978-1935878025
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.7 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (35 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,364,217 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Kindle Edition
This is a big slice of Jack Lewis' middle-age, told in a series of vignettes in sorta more-or-less chronological order. Fortunately for the reader, he's a very interesting and articulate man, and did some interesting things. It used to be (maybe still is) common for late teenagers and early twentysomethings to try and straighten out their screwed-up life by joining the military and going off to war. I don't know whether it's ever been common for the pushing-40 demographic, but Lewis details just how good an idea that was for him.
There's very little of politics or pontification about the horror of war or the stupidity of military command, though those ideas certainly come through. The Iraq section, the middle two-thirds of the book, presents a very straightforward view of what life is like for a middle-aged senior NCO in a notionally non-combat role. Much of that life is "long periods of boredom punctuated by moments of sheer terror", but Lewis manages to find wry humor and a great deal of genuine human compassion, both for the soldiers and some of the local inhabitants. His portrayal of the command personalities and of the level of understanding of the mission and purpose of American presence there is troubling, but basically as old as war.
As is his depiction of life after return. While we can clearly understand that Jack Lewis is feeling further and further detached from "the real world" while in Iraq, it soon becomes clear that being home in Washington is NOT bringing him closer. As might be expected, it's never quite clear whether the disintegration of his family life is a cause or an effect of his gradually loosening grip on reality.
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Format: Paperback
In the interest of full disclosure, I must admit that I would delight in a dissertation on dental insurance if it were written by Jack Lewis. I could have sped through "Nothing in Reserve" in a few hours. But Lewis is my favorite type of writer, a journeyman wordsmith and a master of his craft who makes the actual act of reading enjoyable. I found myself reciting parts aloud just to roll the words around on my tongue. Like an art lover in a museum, I ambled slowly through it, savoring the clever wordplay, and, honestly, coveting a few of his phrases. His war was also my war and there are places where he describes how I feel about it better than I can. We were in different units in different parts of Iraq, but the next time someone asks me what it was like, I'm going to give him this book.

The stories themselves are just as good as the construction of them. Lewis flays himself open and bleeds all over the page. His honesty, humility, and vulnerability about the war, the crumbling of his marriage and his slow recovery from both is bracing and inspiring.

He's better than the vast majority of writers at getting the right details right. The stuff that people who weren't there will skitter over easily, but that people who were there will latch onto. A significant portion of the book is not set in Iraq, yet, like all soldiers, Lewis's military experience colors even the most civilian of events.

A person doesn't have to be a veteran to appreciate this book. And a person doesn't have to be a divorcee. He or she just has to be human.
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Format: Paperback
I read this book twice in a professional capacity and then once more just because it's so good. That never happens. After all, I do have a life. I have other things to do. But this book is so honest and funny and real and so beautifully written that I don't regret one second of the too much time I spent on it.

I'm not necessarily a fan of books about war but I am addicted to the kind of writing that makes you feed addicted, no matter what the genre or subject. After I read Matterhorn, by Karl Marlantes, I became somewhat evangelical about it, pushing it on everyone I knew. I even bothered a few innocent bystanders at bus stops and cocktail parties, which turned out okay because they all thanked me later. But just as my fervor about that began to die down, I read Nothing in Reserve (did I mention I read it three times?) and I'm dong the same thing, urging everyone I know and everyone I meet to read it. You can trust me. I was not wrong about Matterhorn and I'm not wrong about Nothing in Reserve. Life is short. Don't waste your precious time reading another mediocre book or even pretty a good one until you have read this.

I hope Jack Lewis writes more books soon because I'm ready. I would probably read a romance novel if he wrote one. Well, maybe not, but I'd give it at least 50 pages. And I don't even know where they keep those in the book store.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Jack Lewis' raw, emotional, honest portrayal of his experiences at home and in Iraq left me humbled. Humbled by his service, which he downplayed (to little effect with me). Humbled by his honesty (I know we all wonder if we can cut it, but to actually admit it, write it and DEAL with it? wow). And most of all, humbled by his talent.

The boy can write.

If you are looking for a red-white-n-blue portrayal of war, you need to refine your search. If you are looking for soul-baring honesty and some of the 'truth' of combat, then buy this book. Read this book... and wonder if you could take that same journey and be able to open up the way this warrior has.

I have been reading his OP'Ed's for years and am glad he has entered the e-book realm. He is a great talent.
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