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Senator's Son: An Iraq War Novel Paperback – February 6, 2010
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About the Author
Luke S. Larson was born and raised in Washington State and grew up on the Olympic Peninsula. He attended University of Arizona on an NROTC scholarship and graduated with honors with a degree in Journalism. He served as a Marine infantry officer and saw action in two tours to Ar Ramadi, Iraq in 2005 and then again in 2007. He was awarded the Bronze Star with V for valor on his first tour. He studied non-lethal weapons, policies and procedures at Penn State's continuing education program and is currently pursuing an MBA at Thunderbird School of Global Management. He lives in Phoenix with his wife and daughter.
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Years ago at a motorcycle event I met a young Marine that had lost both legs in Ramadi in an IED blast during the insurgency. For whatever the reason he felt comfortable telling me his story. I will never, ever forget him looking me straight in the eye and saying "Ma'am, I am not upset over losing my legs, I am upset that I can't go back to be w/my guys and serve my country." It took my breath away. This young man was covered in burn scars, lost both legs at the young age of 21 and still felt he hadn't given enough to our country. I can't help but wonder now if this Marine was perhaps one of the Marines in this story, I will never know. He was going to go back to school to become a history teacher. Needless to say he left an impression on me, just as the book Senator's Son has impressed me. God Bless our Marines, and all that serve.
The book is recommended to 'green officers', but I would recommend this for any civilian, as well. Most civilians have no idea about wartime duality; not the kind where you can't pull the trigger because you are tactically naive, but the kind where 'not' killing someone may save your life and the lives of your fellow troops. Reading this book marks the first time I have really understood why and how this situation is possible.
Regardless, I have seen few other cases where something in open media (print) explains these situations with complete honesty and full insight. The media has done a huge disservice to our military and our civilians by portraying a liberal version of the truth. It's about time someone gets it right! I can't wait for Luke's next book to come out. I know he'll ignore political correctness yet again. It's what this country needs!
Larson vividly presents the troop maneuvers and split-second decision-making of four Marine lieutenants (Cash, Bama, John, and Rogue) and their men. For anybody interested in a boots-on-ground, outside-the-wire depiction of modern U.S. combat, the opening chapters of Senator's Son are grippingly informative.
However, Senator's Son falters as narrative. The book has a lot of action but little plot. The arc of the story--the emergence of the Marine company into a trailblazing counterinsurgency unit--is a little too preachy to keep the pages turning. We want America and its troops to succeed, but the fictional lieutenants aren't quite engaging or appealing enough to "root for." The snippets of their family life back home come across as artificial and hackneyed. Larson basically uses his characters as vessels to depict his faith in the righteousness of the counterinsurgency strategy over any rival doctrine.
The Iraq chapters are spliced by short political musings of a senator set in the future. The political chapters are a little jarring, out of place, and not terribly interesting. Overall, Senator's Son is more personalized and engaging than reading the Army's counterinsurgency manual or sitting through a West Point lecture series, but not by much.